NEW DELHI: To serve the expanding esports industry in India, a dedicated body–Esports Players Welfare Association (EPWA)–is being launched. The association aims to support enrolled esports players with services such as legal advice, contracts, dispute resolution and career advice, among others.
EPWA, a non-profit organisation, will be a memberonly organisation where players can opt for free as well as paid annual membership ( ₹299 per year basis).
To safeguards the interests of esports players across India, EPWA has partnered with legal and financial experts. Former gamer Amar Ratnam will liaise between players and industry as a whole. Esports has been included as a medal event at the upcoming Asian Games in 2022 and awaiting an Olympic nod as well.
To be sure, the esports industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46% to touch ₹11 billion by 2025, up from its current size of ₹2.5 billion, as per a report by EY. Unlike online gaming, esports is defined by online games of skill that are played in tournaments where different teams or individual players compete against each other to win the championship, league or title like they do in physical sports.
Ritesh Nath, chief executive and founder of EPWA said, “With the exponential increase in the number of esports players (amateur and professional) and avenues for them to earn a living, EPWA will strive to ensure their rights are protected by defining industry norms, setting regulations, and assisting relevant stakeholders to form policies.”
Nath is an independent sports consultant with more than a decade of holding leadership positions across sports organizations. He has managed commercial deals and sponsorships for sports people such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Sunil Chhetri among others, for sports properties such as Indian Premier League (IPL), Pro Kabbadi League (PKL) and Indian Super League (ISL). He has also worked with Nielsen Sports India.
According to him most esports companies in the ecosystem overlook the rights of the players.
“Our aim is to educate players about their rights. An EPWA member will get services such as vetting of contracts before they sign or at the time of renewal with team owners or esports tournament organisers. Legal advice will be provided in case of issues such as non-payment of dues. We will also offer brand sponsorship advice where we won’t get involved with the commercials but will help players on validity and construct of certain clauses in their contracts,” Nath added.
According to recent estimates by EY, India currently has 1,50,000 players and around 60,000 esports teams. As esports becomes a viable profession for the youth, the number of players is expected to grow at 78% CAGR by 2025 to reach 1.5 million and 250,000 teams. The growth will be propelled by an increase in prize money, more games, localisation, regional adaptation and growth of smartphone, laptop and broadband infrastructure.
Shivani Jha, director, EPWA said, “As wide as the gaming industry may be, absence of any regulations or stringent rules in esports allows for exploitation of players. The top priority at EPWA will be to address player grievances regarding their legal obligations and contracts. EPWA will also work to bridge the awareness gap that exists in the country by educating the industry about the latest esports rules and regulations from India and around the globe.”
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