"We are looking to expand our game base," says IGL's Yash Pariani as Esports booms amidst lockdown
- An interaction with IGL's Yash Pariyani who explains how the current COVID-19 lockdown has been a boon to the Esports sector.
- The gaming industry is all set to witness an unprecedented surge.
Much like their counterparts in the rest of the world, Indian sports lovers have been left feeling more than a bit distressed with the recent postponement and cancellation of several national and international events owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the Esports scene is thriving.
Playing any form of outdoor sport is neither advisable nor permissible in the current scenario. Yet, every cloud has a silver lining and notwithstanding the all-pervading sense of gloom, there are those who hope to add cheer and cash in as possibilities for the Esports sector now seem bigger than ever before.
Yash Pariani, Director and Founder of the Indian Gaming League, sounds upbeat and justifiably so. The Indian Gaming League (IGL), his brainchild, which took off in 2016 is now soaring to new heights and promises to be the next big thing in the now-bankable Indian Esports market.
In an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda, Pariani looks back at the challenges he faced while launching the IGL. He also talks about the journey so far before gushing at the enormous prospects in the Esports sector that now await the gaming community thanks, in part, to the recent COVID-19 lockdown and the internet boom. Here are the excerpts of the interview:
IGL's Yash Pariani talks about Esports and the IGL:
SK: How did the idea of the Indian Gaming League come about and what were the obstacles that you had to overcome initially?
Yash Pariani: We wanted to create a platform that could enhance the gaming community and ensure that we can distinguish who the best players are in each particular game and organise the gaming sector in India. That was the whole idea (behind the IGL).
Prior to the formation of the Indian Gaming League, everyone was doing their own thing - there were different Esports tournaments happening. We wanted to use our leaderboards to organise a single Esports tournament.
We faced immense challenges in this respect. Initially, there was a lot of reluctance to focus online. India was thought of as a place where offline tournaments should be held. Post demonetisation and the current COVID-19 lockdown, the only way to go is online.
As such, we had to restructure our platform so as to convert it to an online platform.
SK: Where does India stand as compared to the rest of the world as far as gaming and Esports are concerned?
Yash Pariani: In terms of numbers, we probably are on par with the rest of the world in the mobile gaming community especially. But in terms of the quality of the players, we have a lot more to give to the players before we reach the highest levels.
The gamers now have access to all the support and infrastructure which was previously not available in terms of the internet as well as devices and consoles. Technology has improved, which gives a chance for more players to practise than was initially possible.
The whole idea of gaming not being a lucrative career is now changing. Parents were previously opposed to children gaming but are now more supportive.
I can foresee the mobile segment becoming bigger in the next one to two years, and in terms of numbers it already is. But the number of games are just starting to come up. Four years ago there wasn't a PUBG. Today, PUBG is one of the biggest games. PUBG is a mobile game that has the highest number of users.
SK: Given the recent surge in popularity of Esports, what is the level of competition that you foresee in the near future?
Yash Pariani: I definitely foresee a lot of competition in the Esports segment in these times. A lot of people are eyeing these sports now during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown period and that has amplified the whole thing. Given the number of users in India, the competition can do well and so can we. There is ample opportunity out there.
We are looking to expand our game base and also focus on PC and consoles as well. Everyone wants a chunk of the Esports pie but we are looking to be the market leader.
Work from home and social distancing are the new norms and both are here to stay for a while. That said, the focus on engaging with your friends is going to be mostly done online. So we are anticipating a huge surge in the number of people who enter the Esports scene.
We would be looking to double the number of games and also double the number of tournaments every month. As per the revenue forecast before the COVID-19 lockdown, we were looking at a figure of $ 1.1 billion. We are also expecting a lot of big firms entering sponsorships in the Egames sector as most other sports are on hold at the moment.
SK: Are most gamers still concentrated in the metros or is that now changing? How lucrative is it to join the esports sector today?
Yash Pariani: Gaming has moved from Tier 1 cities to now becoming quite big in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as well. Everyone now has access to a smartphone and to games. Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities are now overtaking the metros in terms of growth rate.
It is now a good idea to not just be a gamer but to be in the Esports industry, which can involve being a streamer, tournament host or an organiser. All of them are lucrative as long as it is an online platform.
This is a time when people have been forced to take pay cuts. We are the only ones who are paying fully and we also have been adding more people to the staff. Right now, one cannot play any kind of outdoor sport. So there is no option, apart from esports, if one wants to play any competitive sport.
SK: If one excels in a particular Esport game, can one then move on to a coaching role?
Yash Pariani: We haven't seen this come about in the Esports scene in India yet. But in the rest of the world it's something that's happening and is a big part of the industry where one senior player coaches the other. We too are trying to identify the best players and have them coach a younger one.
The move would be lucrative for the one who coaches as it would help younger Esports players hone their skills. Those keen to hop on to the bandwagon need to log on to https://iglnetwork.com/.