Competitive gaming tournaments officially existed since 1980 when the first Space Invaders championship took place and was organized by Atari. However, only in the last decade or so have the gaming competitions turned into a legitimate sport, and are now even in the consideration to a be a part of the Olympics.

As the games got bigger and better, so did the gaming community. Today, there are organized tournaments with multi-million dollar prize pools and the audience that is slowly reaching a half a billion mark. People can even bet on eSports nowadays. The NJ Games website lists a bunch of different sites where you can wager on your favorite gamer or a team.

But how much money is in the eSports industry exactly? To learn the answer to that question, read on and check out our detailed infographic below.

eSports Revenue Growth

The total revenue from eSports in 2012 was “only” $130 million. Fast forward to 2017 when that number exceeded $468 million, which is more than a 350% increase in a five year period. However, this growth is showing no signs of stopping. The forecast for 2021 suggests that game publisher investments, sponsorships, advertisements, licensing, merchandise, and ticket sales will amount to a total of $1.38 billion!

The Audience Factor

To better understand why so much money is getting invested in eSports, we have to look at the number of people watching it. Every year, the eSports audience gets bigger by about 50 million people. Some stat keepers calculated that around 335 million people watched the main eSports events throughout 2017. The projections for 2021 show that competitive gaming will have approximately 550 million fans worldwide.

eSports watchers are not necessarily gamers themselves. Around 40% of viewers don’t even play the games that they like watching, which shows an indication that eSports are becoming a spectator sport, much like football or basketball.

Total Prize Pools

The first tournaments of this kind only included material prizes. At the 1980 Space Invaders championship that we mentioned earlier, the main prize was an arcade machine. The 1997 Quake tournament winner got the possession of a Ferrari car.

However, the recent eSports tournaments started to reward players with real money. The 2005 CPL World Tour had a purse of one million dollars. Naturally, the cash prizes of today are much bigger. The record was broken at The International 2018 Dota 2 Championships, where the prize pool consisted of more than $25.5 million.

How Much do the Athletes Earn?

The proof that eSports have turned from a hobby into a profession can be found at the total earnings of some of the top gamers in the world. Dota 2 players have the most lucrative careers. For example, Kuro Takhasomi (aka KuroKy) already earned more than $4 million playing this game.

When it comes to professional eSports teams, the numbers go even higher. Team Liquid, that participated in over 1400 tournaments so far playing different games, won more than $24 million for their efforts. One of the most popular Dota 2 teams, Team OG, earned around $17 million while playing on only 49 tournaments.