Mobile Premier League (MPL) thinks its lineup of casual and ‘real-money’ aka gambling games are esports according to recent statements made by a company executive. After its use of the esports label in its advertising campaigns came to light earlier this month, the MPL has since revealed its rationale for the use of the term.
In statements to Inc42, MPL’s senior vice president for policy and legal, Dibyojyoti Mainak, stated that the company is using the term esports with a ‘holistic perspective’.
“In the absence of a codified definition in India (by a regulation, judicial decision, or any self-regulatory body), our perspective is holistic: even simple digital versions of prominent and physical sports recognised by official sports federation – such as pool, chess, archery or shooting – should fall under the ambit of esports,” Mainak told Inc42.
A look at MPL’s mobile platform reveals that its line-up of games largely revolves around casual games like Ludo and Fruit Chop, as well as fantasy sports and real-money games. Coupling this fact with Mainak’s statement would imply that either the company doesn’t know what the term esports means, or that it doesn’t care.
Generally speaking, esports games are defined by a few concepts: a high skill ceiling so that there’s a difference between player skill levels, and gameplay mechanics that not only make sense to its players, but also to spectators. The MPL would rather prefer to co-opt the term esports as a marketing aid.
“To say that only a few foreign games are esports is restrictive and non-inclusive,” said Mainak. “We at MPL believe that esports should be inclusive, diverse, and accessible. We are building a platform for the whole of India and want to democratize esports. Currently, the accessibility of esports is mostly limited to a few affluent persons who can afford expensive consoles and high specs PCs, and we want to try and make esports mobile-first so that a very large part of the world population gets an opportunity to take part in these sports and future get laurels for their countries.”
It’s interesting for MPL to argue that esports is currently non-inclusive and restricted to foreign games. Reason being, sources familiar with the company’s plans tell IGN India that its acquisition of Gaming Monk was done to ensure the company gets access to said titles such as FIFA and Valorant, tournaments for which, Gaming Monk had done prior to being acquired.
Mainak’s statement fails to take into account that turning a game into an esport requires a tremendous amount of skill and resources particularly if it was to be made in India, something that’s yet to happen given the state of the industry right now.
It is worth noting that while MPL is more than happy to use the term esports in its marketing and advertising campaigns, the company’s app doesn’t really ever label any of its games as esports. Recently, however, MPL has started an esports section its app where it offers tournaments with cash prizes.