India v Australia - 4th Test: Day 3
AHMEDABAD, INDIA - MARCH 11: Shubman Gill of India celebrates after scoring his century during day three of the Fourth Test match in the series between India and Australia at Narendra Modi Stadium on March 11, 2023 in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
India v Australia - 4th Test: Day 3

Cricket appeals to an intriguing global demographic. It is wholly weighted in favour of the world's most populated country, India.

Still, many fans are dotted about in other countries, notably Australia, England, and South Africa. While these figures can't be completely corroborated, it is estimated that 90% of global cricket fans are Indian, with over 75% of the country's 1.4 billion inhabitants regularly tuning in to games, citing it as their favourite sport. Due to this enormous potential market, which generates colossal profit, there is growing discussion about subsidiary markets like professional video gaming and how much of a role it could play in spearheading a multi-pronged, cricket-fueled era in Indian sport between now and 2050.

Positive eSports Components To Consider

The overall sentiment in professional video gaming is positive. It's not just sports games that are flying the flag and continuing to highlight the popularity of competitive video gaming. Still, an array of top-tier games brings in staggering audience numbers. Tournaments involving games such as Dota 2 and League Of Legends can reach audiences spanning thousands of miles across different time zones and continents, regularly notching up record attendance figures in the millions. 

Top eSports games and tournaments tend to fit set criteria, including prize pools, impressive viewing figures, and the number of seats sold in the arena or location where the eSports tournament is taking place. This momentum is showing no signs of slowing down, and a burgeoning sector is music to the ears of all professional video gamers and those in the broader eSports industry who are making a living by working in a field they enjoy. We already see eSports tournaments in a variety of different sporting video games and cricket could easily see explosive growth.

Geographical & Economic Considerations

India's size and projected economic growth are two critical positives that could turn cricket eSports into one of the world's most sought-after and lucrative professional video gaming leagues over the next decade or two. With a population set to reach 1.5 billion within the next seven years, while this undeniably causes great economic strain, the rate at which India is growing as an economic superpower is resulting in more of its citizens being able to lift themselves out of poverty. 

India's already colossal population also has a growing middle class of people able to afford goods like video game consoles, and other luxuries in life, and these are the kinds of Indian people who may be interested in eSports more in the coming years.

Potential Stumbling Blocks

Soccer is the most popular sport on the planet, and while FIFA and other soccer games sell millions of units, this doesn't translate into the world of eSports. Interestingly, despite the enormous interest, which saw over 1.5 billion people tune in to watch the World Cup Final, FIFA is on a level below the likes of Dota 2, with prize pools and audience sizes completely eclipsing the colossal EA Sports game. 

So, despite cricket dominating the airwaves in the world's most populated country and players like Virat Kohli achieving superstar status within Indian culture, as well as players flocking from all over to play in the IPL, it doesn't automatically mean that there'll be an eSports game that people will take to in the same vein. Although we used India's economic growth as a positive, which it unquestionably is, it doesn't mean it will translate into more gamers. Consoles are costly items to buy, and nothing suggests that any increase in financial and economic security would lead to gamers signing up for consoles en masse. However, we don't want to sound negative; there are plenty of other consoles that aren't the latest model that are much cheaper to buy and also connect to the internet.

More disposable income leads to more luxury purchases, so there's a strong chance there will be an increase in gamers. How many and whether it could be extensive enough to turn cricket eSports into an elite professional video gaming tournament is unclear. Some gamers and analysts cite this as a negative, and some believe it is a positive that will inevitably pay dividends, but it is a polarizing element of the discussion. 

Closing Thoughts

Any exponential rise will also rely heavily on India bolstering the sales figures of a specific cricket video game. Cricket video games have a modest sales record in England and Australia, and a few choices divide the market, which could also cause issues for any potential eSports event. 

It will take a significant jump to generate enough gamers to drive up the potential of any eSports leagues. So, while there is a lot of promise and potential, a counterargument could also play out. However, out of all of the sports games that could break into the elite of eSports, cricket has one of the strongest potential cases, and the next fifteen to twenty years could ignite the start of a golden period for professional eSports gamers who excel at cricket.