India’s fast growing eSports movement has got a major boost with the announcement of the launch of eSports Players Welfare Association (EPWA). EPWA, a non-profit organisation, has been created solely to ensure that the professional, legal and contractual rights of eSports players in India are safeguarded thoroughly.
Globally, eSports has an estimated audience of 474 million and is the fastest growing among all sports. eSports will be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou. India currently has 1,50,000 players and around 60,000 teams. According to EY, the number of esports players in India is expected to grow to 1.5 million players and 250,000 teams by 2025.
eSports Players Welfare Association (EPWA) aims to be the guardian organisation when it comes to shielding the interests of eSports athletes across India. EPWA will be the first of its kind in India to offer assistance to athletes engaging in eSports. Amar Ratnam, an ex-pro gamer, has been appointed as a liaison between the players and the industry.
Ritesh Nath, the CEO & Founder of EPWA comments, “The future of eSports in India is bright, especially due to the penetration of 4G and the subsequent surge in mobile gaming. Professional governance and structures are vital to the success of any sport; the absence of either in the eSports industry in India is one of the key drivers that led to the formation of eSports Players Welfare Association (EPWA). 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.”
Shivani Jha, Director says, “eSports has been in the limelight lately with attention being drawn to it thanks to its inclusion as a medal event at the upcoming Asian Games in 2022 and potentially an Olympic nod as well. 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.”
Being established on the values of fairness, equality, transparency and accountability, EPWA endeavours to support enrolled eSports players, the most crucial part of the whole eSports ecosystem with the following services —
Legal Advice: Professional and amateur eSports athletes alike are bound by contracts with their teams, sponsors and tournaments — often biased in nature. EPWA proposes to offer sound legal advice with the objective of insulating the interest of the eSports players associated with it.
Contracts: Contracts being the bedrock of any engagement need to be carefully accepted, as such EPWA proposes to review and flag off concerns in team contracts, tournament contracts and sponsorships/endorsements.
Career Advice: Navigating a career in eSports can be challenging on most occasions. EPWA helps define the various professions in eSports and equip them with tools to achieve their goals.
Dispute Resolution: Should any player be addressed with hostile situations vis-a-vis their contractual obligations, EPWA strives to guide them on a way forward themselves or through third-party legal counsel.
Community Building: EPWA aims to build a community of eSports players from across the country where they can exchange ideas, communicate and become a unified voice for eSports players in India.
EPWA works on a membership format. A player or streamer must sign up on the website to become a member after which they will have access to the above-mentioned services and much more.