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“Streaming started to pick up fast 4-5 months after I started, so I decided to quit my finance job and become a full-time game streamer. I have been doing this full-time only for the last 8-9 months,” said Hiranandani.
New Delhi-based Sakshi Sood, 22, is another professional gamer and content creator who started streaming games like GTA5 during the lockdown. “After I launched BGMI, I started streaming that as well and within a year I had over a million followers,” Sood said. He is most active on Facebook. Sood has also participated in several BGMI (Battlegrounds Mobile India) tournaments.
Hiranandani and Sood are among a new breed of casual gamers and streamers who have made the leap into full-time gaming as a career following the Covid-19-led boom in India’s gaming industry.
On average, female gamers and content creators earn between Rs 30,000 and Rs 100,000 per month. This is what most male players do as well. Top players earn even more according to Trinity Gaming. Brand offers, eSports tournaments, affiliate brand marketing, barter collaborations and platform rewards are some of the ways male and female gamers earn money.
According to a November 2021 report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Sequoia, the Indian gaming industry generated $1.8 billion in revenue in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38%, which is even faster than the US (10%) and China (8%).
“During the pandemic, we saw tremendous growth in the gaming ecosystem. The participation of women has also increased a lot. Two years ago, women made up only 4% of players. Today, women make up 15% of the professional gaming community in India,” said Abhishek Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of Trinity Gaming, a gaming content marketing company. His company now works with 10 times more professional female gamers than before. pandemic.
Anurag Khurana, founder and CEO of Penta Esports, confirmed that the presence of women in the game streaming space has improved significantly. However, he also noted that there are still not enough players in eSports. “There are only four to five teams in India that have announced their women’s rosters.
However, things seem to be improving. Last month, Acer organized a tournament for Valorant, an online multiplayer game, for women in India as part of its Predator Gaming League (PLG). The tournament received a total of 1.2 million views and a viewership of 180,000. According to Acer, thousands of women participated, of which the Mollies won. “We believe female gamers will play a huge role in the growth of the eSports industry. It’s inspiring to see women taking gaming seriously,” said Sooraj Balakrishnan, Head of Marketing, Acer India.
The involvement of game publishers is important, according to Trinity’s Aggarwal. “The more publishers get involved, the more validation and support female players get,” he added.
However, Khurana believes the industry needs to do more to get more women into eSports. “If you look at casual games together, 40% of the players are women. In professional, serious games, this number is still quite low compared to men. There is no support for women to participate in eSports. Some companies are taking such initiatives, but they are very limited and more symbolic than the norm,” said Penta Esports’ Khurana. He regrets that playing at home is still not encouraged, especially for women.
For example, bullying and online harassment are some of the other factors that female gamers have to face. “We receive hateful comments on a daily basis. Over time, I’ve learned to deal with those comments by ignoring them,” said Sood. Hiranandani added that she hasn’t met another female player who hasn’t faced harassment and bullying. But she said being a woman also gives you an edge because playing is mostly dominated by men and people are curious to see women playing.
The ratio of female players to male players is not only skewed in India. “India is not far behind, in general there are few professional female gamers worldwide,” Hiranandani said. However, some of the top female gaming streamers in the US, such as Alia Shelesh, known as SSSniperwolf, have an estimated monthly income of $101,000. to $1.6 million , according to SocialBlade, which tracks social media statistics. She has 32.7 million subscribers on YouTube. Similarly, top eSports player Sasha Hostyn, also known as Scarlett, earned $423,000 through eSports as of February 2022, according to Statista.
Hiranandani said she will continue to focus on game streaming and has no plans to enter eSports anytime soon, as it requires a different skill set, a lot of discipline and a good team.
Sood also focuses on streaming, but is now participating in more tournaments because you get more recognition there, she added.