If you haven’t already heard, eSports is the new video game-based phenomenon that is sweeping the world in a big way. It has gone from an outsider niche market to something globally recognised, with everything from major events attended by thousands, to dedicated arenas opening, and to bookmakers accepting bets on the games and tournaments, much like a casino.
Though some are already suggesting that eSports was nothing more than a flash in the pan, and that it is already reaching the ceiling of its growth potential. Is this true, or is competitive video gaming just at the start of what will soon be a globally encompassing mega-industry? Take a look at some of the predictions as to what 2020 will hold for the eSports industry, and see where it could be going in a few years time.
The Drive Of Growth
As it stands, eSports are predicted to shatter the $1.5 billion global revenue record by 2023. This is a great prediction, and very exciting, but such predictions aren’t always accurate. They are, rather, based on current trends, which are sometimes not as accurate as they first seem. It helps to get an idea of what is driving current growth in order to make more accurate predictions about anticipated future growth.
First, a number of celebrities have been championing the eSports industry. Sports stars and singers such as Michael Jordan, Drake, and DJ Marshmello have all been getting behind the games, players and tournaments. This in itself will, of course, drive the industry forward. But add to this the increasing media coverage, namely by traditional outlets such as ESPN, and you have a recipe for rapid success.
But there is one aspect that has probably granted twice the publicity and earned twice as much interest as celebrity faces and media outlets. Namely the global, near unbelievable success of the game Fortnite. Fortnite now has around 250 million players, and the competitive, user-friendly nature of the game has earned more interest in eSports than any celebrity endorsement could hope to achieve.
Investor Interest Peaks
Of course, where there are millions of eyes you have investor interest, which in turn drives even more rapid growth. As eSports have gone global in a big way, investor interest has likewise peaked. As it stands, viewership is at an already impressive 454 million. By 2023 that number is expected to rise by about 9%, putting the grand total at 646 million.
This is more than double the viewership of where global eSports stood in 2017. You couldn’t ask for more impressive numbers to keep investor interest at a peak.
What is more interesting is where investor attention has been focused. Yes, at the events themselves, but also on another, cutting edge technological revolution that has been occurring alongside eSports; streaming. Professional players more often than not have dedicated Twitch or YouTube streams, attracting tens of thousands, of even hundreds of thousands of viewers. That most of these streams now have official sponsorship is not at all surprising.
Year On Year Growth
As far as investment in terms of dollar amounts is concerned, there is no question that numbers have gone through the stratosphere. Venture capitalists, and more recently private equity firms, have been pouring money into the industry. A quick look will paint the picture as clearly as it needs to be seen. Major investments in 2017 stood at 34, and shot up to 68 in 2018. That represents around $4.5 billion invested, or to put it another way; the year on year increase in investment has skyrocketed by 837%.
Where are those investments going? Into everything from spawning new global organisations, to sparking up new tournaments, to breathing life into new broadcast channels. In short; it is investment that is driving industry-wide growth on an unprecedented level.
Or to put it another way entirely, roughly 69% of all money existing in the eSports ecosystem right now can be directly traced to corporate sponsorship.
As far as regions are concerned, there really are no real surprises. The driving force of the market at present is the Asia-Pacific region, which contributes around 57% of all viewership. But North America isn’t far behind, and is quickly gaining ground as the phenomenon spreads. The North American market contributed roughly $300 million in revenue, followed by Europe at $138 million.
If the rest of the world will get involved remains to be seen, but it probably won’t be long before fires of passion are ignited in other video game-loving nations. In conclusion, there isn’t much sign that eSports is reaching some sort of glass ceiling. If anything, the chances seem high that the industry is only going to grow. In fact, some predictions are that the eSports market will soon be seen as one of the major global sporting industries, competing, and perhaps even surpassing, more traditional sports. Though, this may be optimistic it certainly doesn’t seem impossible.