January 2023 Indian Esports Rewind

Sadakshi Kalyan Ramun
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Indian Esports Recap Series will highlight the latest developments from the business side of the country’s esports industry every month.</p></div>
Indian Esports Recap Series will highlight the latest developments from the business side of the country’s esports industry every month.


AFK Gaming

AFK Gaming is creating a new Indian Esports Recap Series to highlight the latest developments from the business side of the country’s esports industry every month. Our aim is to inform our readers about the most interesting and relevant information about Indian esports every month to keep you up to date about the industry. To that end here’s a breakdown of everything important that happened in January 2023. 

EA Discloses Plans to Sunset Apex Legends Mobile

Apex Legends Mobile

The end of January bore some unfortunate news to Apex Legends Mobile players as Electronic Arts (EA) and Respawn Entertainment revealed their decision to sunset the mobile game, despite the title recently winning the iPhone Game of the Year award in 2022. Respawn noted that Apex Legends Mobile’s content pipeline fell short of the bar that was set in terms of quality, quantity, and cadence. The company disabled all in-app purchases in the game and removed it from web stores on 31st January, allowing access to only those who already have it installed. The game will not be available for play starting 1st May. 

According to Venturebeat, Apex Legends Mobile reportedly generated 47 Million downloads and generated $55 USD Million in revenue. The Indian market had the highest number of downloads at 9.3 million while Japan was the top revenue market at $18 Million USD. 

EA and Respawn, however, stated that they remain excited about mobile as a platform and are looking forward to new opportunities in the future in this area. 

Our Perspective: While Apex Legends Mobile shutting down is heartbreaking, it is not surprising given that the game was not putting up strong competition against giants like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG): Mobile and Call of Duty: Mobile. PUBG: Mobile reportedly made $307 Million USD in the first quarter of 2022, which accounted for 75% of Krafton’s revenue. Likewise, Call of Duty: Mobile surpassed the $1.5 Billion USD revenue mark in lifetime microtransactions in 2022, according to Sensor Tower. Apex Legends Mobile’s closure could also be an opportune moment for other Battle Royale mobile games like SuperGaming’s Indus to compete in this space.

MeitY Proposes Amendments to Online Gaming Regulations in India

The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gaming and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance lapsed on 27th November.

In a move to empower the online gaming industry and to safeguard gamers, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed amendments to regulations for online gaming in the country, including a self-regulatory body, a grievance redressal mechanism, and mandatory know-your-customer (KYC) norms on 2nd January. 

The draft amendment has officially defined an online game as "a game that is offered on the Internet and is accessible by a user through a computer resource if he/she makes a deposit with the expectation of earning winnings.” Additionally, it defined an online gaming intermediary as “an intermediary that offers one or more than one online game.”

These online games will need to be registered with a self-regulatory body, and only those cleared by the organization will be able to legally operate within the country according to the amended rules. The rules also stipulate that online gaming companies will not be allowed to engage in betting.

A lawyer speaking to AFK Gaming confirmed that the definition of "online gaming" in the draft rules is overly broad. “I believe that paying for a game to play it online and winning certain rewards in kind (such as cosmetics) based on one's performance would mean that all of it comes within the purview of 'online gaming' - I should mention though that there are different perspectives on this and many believe that there is no concern at all from the perspective of what we understand 'gaming' to be,” they said.

They also flagged other ambiguous statements with the rules. However, the MeitY had called for comments on the draft rules by January 17th, which could indicate that there may be further amendments to the draft. The final iteration of the rules is yet to be published.

Our Perspective: MeitY's rules for the online gaming industry are well-timed. With India's gaming market having already reached $2.6 billion in 2022 and projected to grow to $8.6 billion by 2027 (according to Lumikai’s research), a unified set of regulations for the industry is crucial. The recognition of the online gaming industry and the creation of a self-regulatory organization will improve transparency and communication with the government, potentially attracting more investments and expanding the scale of the industry in India.

Quick News

  • One of India’s biggest tournament organizers, The Esports Club (TEC), raised $3 Million USD as part of its Pre-Series A funding to expand its operations to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. QuantAscend Consulting Global and Beeline Capital Advisors Private Limited secured the investment for TEC, enabling the organization to launch new initiatives and IPs in different regions.

  • Last month, amid the heated player import discussion in the Indian esports scene, Gods Reign CEO “KR” Rohith made an open offer to North American pro Valorant player Jay “sinatraa” Won to join his organization. While he offered a $144K USD annual salary, sinatraa simply laughed it off saying he made that money in a month from streaming on Twitch.

  • Call of Duty Mobile (COD Mobile) disappeared from the Apple App Store for iOS users globally on 10th January. The developers were quick to note that they were aware of the issue and were working on a fix. A few hours after the incident, the error was resolved and the game returned to the Apple App Store.

  • Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) continues to rule the roost even 10 years after its release. Players’ perennial interest in GTA V is majorly attributed to its Roleplay (RP) servers, which are made possible through mods. S8UL Esports and Velocity Gaming joined hands in January to start a new GTA V RP server called SOULCITY, marking an iconic collaboration in the Indian esports and gaming scene. 

  • Pune-based gaming studio SuperGaming released the first gameplay trailer of its battle royale Indus and also opened up pre-registrations for the game on Android devices. The developers revealed that iOS registrations will open soon and that those who pre-register will receive special bonuses once Indus goes live.  

  • With the status of Battlegrounds Mobile India’s (BGMI) return still in limbo, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile’s sequel New State Mobile is steadily taking over the Indian esports ecosystem. With more New State Mobile tournaments being organized, professional players and teams are making the jump from BGMI to New State already. Notably, Team XO, originally a BGMI team, won the Snapdragon Pro Series (SPS) New State Mobile Open IndiaOrangutan Gaming is also considering moving its BGMI roster to New State Mobile, while some S8UL Esports players are also reportedly building a New State Mobile team.

  • The Esports Federation of India (ESFI) suspended Indian Dota 2 player Moin "NO_Chanc3" Ejaz for alleged unsportsmanlike conduct and false, defamatory statements. The ESFI and the Commonwealth Esports Championship medal-winning Dota 2 team, Team Whoops, and its captain NO_Chanc3 were at loggerheads over multiple instances throughout last year.

Indian Esports Tournaments in January 2023: A recap

Viewership source: Esports Charts

Looking forward

While the Indian esports industry has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, 2022 was a monumental year for the industry with the Indian government officially recognizing esports as a part of multi-sports events. Last year, the community also saw massive brand partnerships, top-class esports events, and 5G penetrating the market. With multiple entities and organizations pushing in the same direction, the country is in a place to compete with the very best from the west in 2023. 

February is already off to a great start. YouTuber Ajey “CarryMinati” Nagar and his business partner Deepak Char bought a 10% stake in Big Bang Esports, the esports division of Big Bang Media Ventures. In December 2022, International Esports Federation (IESF) announced its partnership with Big Bang Esports to launch the inaugural edition of the Asia Open Esports Championship.  

With January being an ever-so-busy month in the industry, there are plenty more events and tournaments to look forward to this month. One of the biggest events of this year, Riot Games’ Valorant Kick-Off tournament is scheduled to start on 13th February featuring all of the 32 partnered teams. India’s Global Esports will be participating in the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) LOCK/IN tournament taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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Sadakshi has been a gamer throughout her life and has followed League of Legends since Season 3, immediately falling in love with the esports scene. Bringing in her print journalism experience, she focuses on content that is both informative and innovative. While her heart still remains with League, her love for competition has pushed her to explore other titles such as Valorant and Apex Legends.