Mobile games publisher Nazara Technologies Pvt. Ltd. on Tuesday announced the launch of eSports league, a series of organized multi-player video game tournaments.
The company said it will invest around Rs136 crore in the venture, which will be housed in a separate fully-owned subsidiary, and scaling up of eSports (electronic sports) ecosystem in the country over five years.
The announcement comes weeks after Ronnie Screwvala, entertainment entrepreneur and founder of UTV Group, said he will launch his eSports venture UCypher in May, according to a January report in The Economic Times.
The culture of large-scale video game tournaments, popularly known as eSports leagues, began in the US about 10 years ago and spread to—besides North America and Europe—Asian countries like China and South Korea.
Today, some of the biggest eSports tournaments—such as The International DotA2 Championship in the US, World Cyber Arena in China and DreamHack in Sweden—host professional teams competing for cash prises as high as $20 million.
“Based and styled on successful eSports formats that have been applied internationally, Nazara is investing in building a wider eSports ecosystem and will be the first project of its genre and scale in India,” chief executive officer Manish Agarwal said in a statement.
At the onset, Nazara Technologies will conduct two seasons each year for Counter Strike (single person shooter) and DotA2 (multi-player online battle arena) and plans to add more titles in the future. To participate, teams will have to register and pass pre-qualification tournaments.
Traditionally, eSports tournaments receive massive brand sponsorships from gaming as well as consumer technology companies. Besides this, virtual game-play is monetized as video content and streamed in fashion similar to football matches.
eSports league “will work around three major pillars; an online content platform dedicated to the eSports community; a professional league; and a network of pro-teams entirely supported by the company. The league will provide Indian eSports fans with live WebTV content, guides, forums, online tournaments and of course, extensive and professional coverage of the eSports scene,” Agarwal said.
According to the company, quoting market intelligence firm Newzoo, global eSports market is expect to reach $1.2 billion in 2018 from about $748 million currently.
Nazara Technologies, the company behind Chhota Bheem mobile game, is one of the biggest mobile-focussed game developers in India with consumer base in 41 counties.
It recently partnered with Indian cricket team players Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to launch a line of cricketing games.