A-list tournaments, passionate fans, edge-of-your-seat excitement, and mind-blowing prizes. What was once the luxury of traditional sports leagues is now the hallmark of another competitive game- eSports.
The only sport other than football to receive worldwide recognition, eSports, is booming business with a fan base that rivals the Olympic Games and World Cup Football. So, can eSports dethrone traditional sports as the game of choice?
Big Viewership Numbers
Within a decade, electronic sports has evolved into a billion dollar industry. According to Newzoo, esports will hit 728.8 million in live streaming viewership by the end of 2021. However, the 10% surge over 2020’s audience stats can be attributed to the pandemic since more consumers are confined in their homes forcing them to spend more time online.
By 2024, the live streaming audience is expected to reach 920.3 million thanks to the popularity of mobile gaming across the globe. 50% of the esports enthusiasts are located in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Except for football, eSports enjoys a global audience.
Revenues projected to surpass the $1 billion mark
A bigger audience means bigger spending. eSport revenue is expected to hit $1.1 billion by close of 2021 according to Newzoo.
By end of 2022, Golden Sachs reports eSports will have reached $3 billion in revenue. eSports is a goldmine from game development, huge fan base, to live streaming and brand investment such as advertising and sponsorship which generates 82% of the revenue.
According to Green Man Gaming, the revenue for esports was higher than that of the US Major League Soccer and English Football League Championship and is expected to overtake Formula 1 racing revenue in 2022.
Tournaments go Global
If you’ve ever doubted esports to be an athletic endeavor, the 2024 summer Olympics in Paris will convince you otherwise. The event is set to include the game as a demonstration sport. The organizers will engage fans with online sports versions which will in some instances compete with field athletes.
Organizations that have joined the eSports wagon include World sailing which has provided a version of its sailing contests known as Virtual Regatta. The English Premier League for Soccer and the National Basketball Association have partnered with eSports leagues to showcase gaming titles built for their sports.
But, World Sailing is the only one so far to table a public proposal for the electronic sport games. What the eSport fan base will miss out on is shooter games which according to the IOC are in the red zone and not compatible with Olympic values. However, competitive video gaming will be a medal event at the Asian Games set for 2022 in Hangzhou, China.
Top Investment Funding Deals
The eSports Observer reported a whopping $1.95 billion in investment funding received by eSports in 2019. Despite the 2020 pandemic, the eSport community has witnessed explosive growth in investment.
Among the significant investments for the year was $165 million by venture capital firm, Bitkraft Ventures to grow the interactive gaming sport. The Bitkraft fund was backed by investment firms such as JS Capital, Carolwood, Logitech, and Declaration Partners.
In March 2021, Chinese TikTok tech company, ByteDance announced its acquisition of Moonton, the brand behind Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in a deal valued at $4.06 billion. The dramatic growth in investments in the esports world are not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, they are well poised to continue increasing.
The Stakes are bigger and better
eSport events attract good money and a lot of it which has made the competition high stakes bringing in more fans and skyrocketing the prize pools. Large-scale eSport tournaments exhibit prize pools that rival those of traditional sports.
The International, Dota 2’s flagship event set the new record for the largest single-game eSport prize pool at $34.3 million in 2020. The prize pool for 2021 has so far hit $40 million smashing last year’s record making Dota 2 the highest ranking eSport game. There are also regular CSGO (Counter-Strike Global Offensive) tournaments with $1m+ prize pools. Aside from the tournaments themselves there is also big money involved now in gambling on eSports like CSGO, Dota 2, League of Legends and others. As with sports betting this involves betting on the outcome of fixtures between eSports teams, margin of victory and more.
Multiple Global Partnerships in the Pipeline
eSports is attracting a wave of lucrative investments thanks to its huge potential for revenue. The NBA 2K League which is an eSports initiative for pro basketball gamers so far has 21 NBA teams under its belt.
BMW, a company with a major stake at golf’s PGA European Tour announced its global partnership with five League of Legends organizations to redesign the company’s image for the modern audience. The Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings, and the Houston Rockets have also invested in the League of Legends teams.
Also, the Global Esports Federation (GEF) has partnered with Global Sports Innovation Center (GSIC). The partnership will further innovate esports and merge it brilliantly with traditional sports for an exhilarating game experience.
These partnerships provide eSports with great exposure and legitimacy giving it a solid foothold in the mainstream.
Popular Appeal with the Young Crowd
The popularity of eSports with Millennials and younger- is undeniable. Young players make up the largest share of eSport fans and viewers. They own powerful gaming devices such as Gaming PCs, PlayStations, tablets, and phones making it easy for them to keep up with the latest trends.
44% of 16–24-year-olds are highly likely to live stream video games, while 32% prefer watching eSport tournaments to traditional sports tournaments.
To connect with the vast new age audience of the coming decades that esports capture, big hitters such as Amazon, Disney, ESPN, Coca-Cola, NBC, and many others have made multimillion dollar investments.
With viewers looking for new sources of entertainment, the eSport scene is witnessing tremendous growth. Critics however attribute the meteoric growth to the Covid 19 pandemic which has pushed sports aficionados into the online gaming arena.
We are witnessing sophisticated tech advancements and once you go tech, there’s no going back. eSports has so far earned bragging rights as the game to watch, and in a few years, we could be witnessing a massive global shift.