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bgmi tournament: Game on: Krafton’s BGMI return revvs up Indian esports scene

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On June 5, esports company Skyesports announced its first BattleGrounds Mobile India (BGMI) tournament since the return of the popular online game in India. And within a week, the company moved to close six brand deals, CEO Shiva Nandy claimed. Typically it takes as long as two months to snag brand deals for other esports tournaments, industry watchers said.

The speed of dealmaking is an indicator of how important the game is to the esports ecosystem, Nandy said. A “battle royale”-style game where numerous players fight each other to “death” in a virtual arena, BGMI had over 100 million registered users in the country before it was blocked by the Indian government last year.

The lifting of the block on a trial basis in May has streaming platforms and tournament organisers alike projecting a bump in viewership and revenues. At the same time, professional BGMI teams are seeing their calendars fill up with tournaments and the opportunity to represent India abroad.

“We encourage and support 3rd party tournament organizers to actively engage with their own BGMI esports events and are actively engaging with other stakeholders to foster growth (sic),” Sean Hyunil Sohn, CEO, KRAFTON Inc. India told ET via email.

Contrast this with the scenario a year ago, when the government blockade hit the esports sector badly. Viewership immediately fell by roughly half across streaming platforms, industry executives said. Brand interest and sponsorships, the biggest revenue streams for the sector, consequently dried up too.

The game was blocked under Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, which deals with content that might endanger national security or relations with foreign states. Though neither the government nor Krafton revealed the exact reasons behind the move, deputy minister for Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, in a tweet about the game’s return said that it had “complied with issues of server locations and data security (sic)”.

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BGMI’s return is, however, conditional on a number of changes – from restricting playtime to six hours to address ‘addiction’ to changing the colour of the blood in the game to green. The trial period, during which the government said it will monitor the game to decide on a permanent return, lasts three months. Good tidings

The latest BGMI tournament organised by Skyesports saw a peak concurrent viewership of over 100,000 on esports-focused streaming platform Loco, and over 130,000 on YouTube, Nandy said. In comparison, the next most popular tournament with the PC game called Valorant saw a peak concurrent viewership of 27,000, he said.

The difference in viewership was further confirmed by Loco founder Ashwin Suresh. While a BGMI tournament just before the block in 2022 saw a peak concurrent viewership of about 260,000, Loco’s next highest viewership – again from a Valorant tournament – only saw a peak concurrent of about 30,000 viewers.

“The clearest comparison is cricket – it is not just the biggest game, but it is also the game that brings in the most investment interest and pushes up the baseline for other esports,” Suresh told ET in an interaction.

Helped by BGMI’s return, Skyesports expects to see its yearly revenues grow three- to four-fold in FY24 despite the broader economic downturn, Nandy claimed without disclosing exact numbers.

A similar confidence was shared by Loco’s Suresh, who said the firm will likely hit $20 million in ARR by the end of FY24. Suresh said he could not provide a comparative number as Loco started monetising the platform only a month and a half ago. ET could not independently confirm these projections.

“We had different revenue projections based on the expected return of the game (BGMI) – if it had returned in September or December our projection would have been much lower,” Suresh added.

Weighty problems

As much as BGMI’s return provides a reason to rejoice, the related jump in viewership is also indicative of the over-reliance of the esports ecosystem on the online gaming industry, executives said. “It is very difficult to diversify. Again, it’s like asking the Indian sports ecosystem to diversify away from cricket – it is difficult and it takes a lot of time,” Suresh said.

Still, some hope lies in future mobile version releases of already popular games like Valorant. At the same time, esports firms themselves are trying to generate more interest in games such as CounterStrike and Pokemon Unite, Nandy said.

In the meantime, professional esports teams are gearing up for lucrative BGMI tournaments that are slated to return this year, said Vyas Devam K, vice president at esports talent management firm Gods Reign.

But income is just one part of the attraction. Winning major tournaments like the BGMI India Series and the BGMI Masters Series also provides an opportunity to represent India at the international stage, at competitions like the PUBG Mobile Global Championships.

“In the coming year, we are focused on providing players from various backgrounds, including both professional-level competitors and gaming enthusiasts, a variety of tournaments and curated events… Currently, we do not have plans to send players to PUBG Mobile Global eSports Events,” Sohn added.

Despite this, with the increased acceptance of esports as a mainstream event – the 2022 Asian Games saw a 15-member Indian team participate in four esports competitions – the return of BGMI means much more than just a revenue boost, industry executives said.


On June 5, esports company Skyesports announced its first BattleGrounds Mobile India (BGMI) tournament since the return of the popular online game in India. And within a week, the company moved to close six brand deals, CEO Shiva Nandy claimed. Typically it takes as long as two months to snag brand deals for other esports tournaments, industry watchers said.

The speed of dealmaking is an indicator of how important the game is to the esports ecosystem, Nandy said. A “battle royale”-style game where numerous players fight each other to “death” in a virtual arena, BGMI had over 100 million registered users in the country before it was blocked by the Indian government last year.

The lifting of the block on a trial basis in May has streaming platforms and tournament organisers alike projecting a bump in viewership and revenues. At the same time, professional BGMI teams are seeing their calendars fill up with tournaments and the opportunity to represent India abroad.

“We encourage and support 3rd party tournament organizers to actively engage with their own BGMI esports events and are actively engaging with other stakeholders to foster growth (sic),” Sean Hyunil Sohn, CEO, KRAFTON Inc. India told ET via email.

Contrast this with the scenario a year ago, when the government blockade hit the esports sector badly. Viewership immediately fell by roughly half across streaming platforms, industry executives said. Brand interest and sponsorships, the biggest revenue streams for the sector, consequently dried up too.

The game was blocked under Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, which deals with content that might endanger national security or relations with foreign states. Though neither the government nor Krafton revealed the exact reasons behind the move, deputy minister for Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, in a tweet about the game’s return said that it had “complied with issues of server locations and data security (sic)”.

Discover the stories of your interest


BGMI’s return is, however, conditional on a number of changes – from restricting playtime to six hours to address ‘addiction’ to changing the colour of the blood in the game to green. The trial period, during which the government said it will monitor the game to decide on a permanent return, lasts three months. Good tidings

The latest BGMI tournament organised by Skyesports saw a peak concurrent viewership of over 100,000 on esports-focused streaming platform Loco, and over 130,000 on YouTube, Nandy said. In comparison, the next most popular tournament with the PC game called Valorant saw a peak concurrent viewership of 27,000, he said.

The difference in viewership was further confirmed by Loco founder Ashwin Suresh. While a BGMI tournament just before the block in 2022 saw a peak concurrent viewership of about 260,000, Loco’s next highest viewership – again from a Valorant tournament – only saw a peak concurrent of about 30,000 viewers.

“The clearest comparison is cricket – it is not just the biggest game, but it is also the game that brings in the most investment interest and pushes up the baseline for other esports,” Suresh told ET in an interaction.

Helped by BGMI’s return, Skyesports expects to see its yearly revenues grow three- to four-fold in FY24 despite the broader economic downturn, Nandy claimed without disclosing exact numbers.

A similar confidence was shared by Loco’s Suresh, who said the firm will likely hit $20 million in ARR by the end of FY24. Suresh said he could not provide a comparative number as Loco started monetising the platform only a month and a half ago. ET could not independently confirm these projections.

“We had different revenue projections based on the expected return of the game (BGMI) – if it had returned in September or December our projection would have been much lower,” Suresh added.

Weighty problems

As much as BGMI’s return provides a reason to rejoice, the related jump in viewership is also indicative of the over-reliance of the esports ecosystem on the online gaming industry, executives said. “It is very difficult to diversify. Again, it’s like asking the Indian sports ecosystem to diversify away from cricket – it is difficult and it takes a lot of time,” Suresh said.

Still, some hope lies in future mobile version releases of already popular games like Valorant. At the same time, esports firms themselves are trying to generate more interest in games such as CounterStrike and Pokemon Unite, Nandy said.

In the meantime, professional esports teams are gearing up for lucrative BGMI tournaments that are slated to return this year, said Vyas Devam K, vice president at esports talent management firm Gods Reign.

But income is just one part of the attraction. Winning major tournaments like the BGMI India Series and the BGMI Masters Series also provides an opportunity to represent India at the international stage, at competitions like the PUBG Mobile Global Championships.

“In the coming year, we are focused on providing players from various backgrounds, including both professional-level competitors and gaming enthusiasts, a variety of tournaments and curated events… Currently, we do not have plans to send players to PUBG Mobile Global eSports Events,” Sohn added.

Despite this, with the increased acceptance of esports as a mainstream event – the 2022 Asian Games saw a 15-member Indian team participate in four esports competitions – the return of BGMI means much more than just a revenue boost, industry executives said.

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