The e-sports industry is hindered by uncertainty about the BGMI ban. The talk that BGMI might be banned in India is bad news for players, tournament organizers, and people who stream games. As players move on to other games, BGMI tournaments are getting pushed back. Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), one of the most popular online games in India, has been taken off from the Google Play and Apple App Stores. This has led many people to think that the game has been banned in India. This has caused tournaments to be put off, gamers to switch to new games, and players to worry about what to do next.
A BGMI gamer named Parichay “Paradox” Bansal said that the rumors about BGMI being banned will have a significant effect on him as a player and that he is worried about how to deal with the current lack of information. So, he wants to focus more on streaming until the BGMI ban is more apparent.
“I stream BGMI almost regularly, except sometimes when we have an ongoing important tournament. I stream on my YouTube channel named Paradox Gaming and also on the Loco (game streaming platform). I won’t be pausing streaming due to the said ban, I’ll just take a couple of days off and go back at it. Until the ban is confirmed, I think streaming BGMI makes sense,” he said.
If there is a ban, Shivam Rao, co-founder of Trinity Gaming India, a marketing partner to BGMI, said it would impact the income of gamers. “Many skilled gamers have left their families, homes and traditional jobs to build and pursue their careers as professionals. Such a ban will make their future and careers uncertain. Options for players and gamers will reduce drastically. If the ban decision holds, we will probably see a decline in the number of gamers and its communities across India,” he said.
Gamers like Bansal, who have played in most of the BGMI tournaments that have been held so far, used to win more than $30,000 as a team.
Rohit Agarwal, founder, and director of Alpha Zegus, a marketing agency that focuses on gaming and lifestyle and manages the portfolios of BGMI content creators, said that BGMI gamers and tournament organizers would be the ones who will be hurt the most.
“Last time during PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) ban, all the e-sports players were sitting at home doing nothing. For them, it is a difficult situation and switching to another game means starting from scratch. And they are doing this over and over again,” he said.
The Esports Premier League (ESPL), which is a franchise-based e-sports league, said on Monday that the finals of the second season would be moved because BGMI was taken off app stores. The second season was supposed to take place between August 1 and 5, with a prize pool of Rs 1 crore.
“We are constrained to put ESPL Season 2 on hold in light of the government’s directions and the prevailing circumstances. This is an unfortunate situation for all e-sports enthusiasts,” the ESPL said in a statement released on Monday.
A South Korean company called Krafton makes and sells video games and has been planning many tournaments in India with the help of organizers. It had four pro and semi-pro tournaments in 2022, with a total prize pool of Rs 6 crore.
But Krafton will likely stop its upcoming tournaments because of the uncertainty surrounding BGMI. “I think they (the tournaments) will be on hold until we hear an official communication from Krafton or the government about the future of the game. It is a setback for the Indian e-sports industry,” said Rohit Jagasia, founder and CEO of Revenant Esports.
He also said that most people in India watch BGMI events.
He said, “Lately, we have seen massive eight-figure prize pool tournaments which led non-endemic brands to invest in the ecosystem, which led to more sponsorship.”
When compared to streamers of other games, BGMI content creators who get more viewers make more money from streaming. “Their (BGMI streamers) earnings could range from Rs 20,000-30,000 on the lower side to Rs 8-10 lakh on the higher end, depending on the viewership. For most BGMI creators, this becomes a major revenue model with a 50 percent contribution to their overall revenue pie,” said Agarwal.
Currently, some streamers are still showing BGMI, while others have moved on to other games.
“A similar thing had happened in 2020 when PUBG was banned. Then some five or six months back there was a Free Fire ban. We have been talking to our creators to diversify as it has happened in the past. So there have been quite a few creators who have diversified in the last three to four months. Viewership does differ as BGMI gets higher viewership compared to other games,” Agarwal added.
“Apart from the impact on viewership in case of a BGMI ban, endorsement deals are likely to see a drop too as many brands focus on the size of the audience. “There are certain brands that do endorsement deals only from an eyeballs standpoint. So, for such a creator they will need to ensure that they are maintaining the same viewership they were getting for BGMI,” said Agarwal.
Talent managers and e-sports platforms worry that this uncertainty will make players and content creators lose interest, which could slow the growth of the industry.
A report from EY-FICCI 2022 says that the number of e-sports players will double from 300,000 in 2020 to 600,000 in 2021. As a result, from Rs 750 crore in 2020 to Rs 970 crore last year, the industry’s income went up.“This potential stay will hamper the whole e-sports ecosystem—consumers, businesses, stakeholders, jobs and much more. There is a large investment riding on startups, tournaments and game streaming, it’s a trickle effect waiting to happen,” said Sagar Nair, co-founder, and CEO, of Qlan, a networking app for gamers.