Esports are truly going global. While games like League of Legends are already popular worldwide, many regions struggled to build out esports infrastructure. With advancements in mobile phone technology, those barriers to entry virtually disappeared. China is already the driver of many of the biggest esports companies in the world, but now the only country that can challenge China in population is also focusing on esports.
“One thing that fascinated me going into esports was how China and South Korea were the dominant players,” said Raj Rajkotia, the CEO of NextGenTM. “From a pure numbers perspective, India is the second-largest smartphone user base. That presents a tremendous opportunity.”
Rajkotia was born in Mumbai but came over to the United States for college. Since then he’s worked for a variety of Fortune 500 companies including Toyota and Bank of America before transitioning over to the gaming space working with Warner Bros. Games and Riot Games.
“There are a lot more movies that come out of Bollywood than Hollywood,” Rajkotia continued. “Esports shares those same elements of entertainment and that has a good synchronization to the Indian community. I feel like many of the things we do in the US can be replicated in India with esports.”
The dominant game in India is PUBG Mobile. According to Rajkotia, the game has been downloaded more than 50 million times in the country. The game is so popular that major esports organizations like Fnatic have opened up offices in India just to capitalize on PUBG Mobile. While mobile esports has been around for a while, recent advancements in phone technology have made new titles possible.
A few years ago even simplified MOBA’s were a bit complex, now battle royale titles like PUBG and Fortnite can be played on phones. Mobile esports like Clash Royale and Free Fire is massively popular in underdeveloped regions like Southeast Asia, India, and South America.
“The mobile esports rise is the next wave of esports growth,” Rajkotia said. “In emerging countries like India, there are one or two major US games, there is a tremendous opportunity for US companies to take their product and launch it in India. Plus, the regulations – unlike China – are so much easier to operate in. It is a market that is primed for exponential growth.”
PUBG, for example, can’t be played in China due to the game’s graphic nature. Regulations from the Chinese government have caused many games to be barred from the country. Other games, like Fortnite, are accepted by the government but come with their own set of rules. Recently, China implemented a change to Fortnite that sees experience rewards slashed by 50% when sessions run over three hours. While not necessarily a bad policy, operating a game in China comes with its own set of issues that don’t exist to nearly the same degree in India.
For all of esports, opening up new regions is key to the continued growth of the industry. Mobile esports bring down the barrier of entry and make esports accessible to all. The numbers behind mobile esports are truly staggering and only will continue to grow.
Written by Mitch Reames