The Age of Esports
In 2019, the estimated Wimbledon win was $2.9 million—winning Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena video game, was $3.1.
That means team OG raked in more prize money than Wimbledon singles champs Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep. Not even Tiger Woods, arguably one of the most famous athletes of all time, made that kind of money by winning the 2019 Masters—he only cashed-in at $2.07 million.
Esports is a billion-dollar industry—and it’s taking the world by storm. With more than 200 million viewers worldwide, esports is just as popular as the NBA or NFL, with many gamers considered professional athletes for their unique skills and talents. Plus, for the industry as a whole, revenues, viewership, and investor interest are at an all-time high.
The Rise of Esports
The industry has come a long way from The Space Invaders Championship of 1980.
“Esports revenue is projected to hit 1.5 billion by 2020 and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. Just like how people have been gathering in over-crowded stadiums to watch a handful of athletes compete at the highest level for decades now, esports has developed the same sort of demand in terms of participation and spectatorship throughout the years.”
And it shows in the increased investments. More and more investors are showing interest in esports—a surge that comes from both venture capital and private companies, as well as traditional sports teams, athletes, and celebrities. Statistically, 47% of esport executives anticipate an increase in investment over the next year.
Also, as esports gain momentum, revenues will continue to skyrocket with sponsorships and advertising driving the highest amount of growth, followed by in-game purchases and media rights.
Esports: An Accessible Industry?
Interest isn’t the thing that’s growing in the esports industry—the platform itself is becoming more accessible to the public. Former pro gamer Carlos Rodriguez, now the owner of G2 esports, says games like League of Legends are more “ahead of the curve” than traditional sports when it comes to accessibility.
According to Rodriguez, this is due to the game’s low-barrier entry. There aren’t many sports that allow people to compete with such ease, which, in turn, increases its popularity.
“[You only need to] launch your PC, launch League of Legends, and play a game,” Rodriguez recently told CNN. “It takes you two minutes to do that, and in two minutes you are already competing.”
Esports & Gender Neutrality
Because of its level of accessibility, many also consider esports to be a pioneer in gender-inclusivity.
“eSports are all about mental acuity, hand-eye coordination, and quick reaction time,” says the Sports Integrity Initiative. “In some games, it is more about the ability to strategize effectively and work as a team. Esports are digital, so there are none of the traditional physical hangups to get in the way of ‘athletic equality.”
30% of the esports audience are women—they play and purchase with equal voracity as men. And now, they can compete in the same arenas, without the mental and physical impediments of traditional sports.
Gamer Happiness = Esports Growth
For any booming industry, the only way to maintain a steady level of revenue growth is to keep your high-performers happy. In the case of esports, this means gamers.
With such a lucrative industry, it’s no surprise that gamers are demanding similar rights to a traditional job, such as health insurance and other perks. As Jon Israel of Foley’s Sports & Entertainment Group confirms,
“The most prominent legal issue currently facing esports are player rights.”
Now, players are negotiating fair contracts and placing attention on issues such as team sponsorship deals and individual endorsements. For many gamers, what started as a bedroom hobby has now become a serious career. And ultimately, the most important thing for gamers is to be compensated fairly—and on time.
The gaming market is not slowing down. And with increasing investments and a growing, accessible platform, industry enthusiasts can follow the esport trend straight to the bank.
Remember, it’s the digital age, anyone can play.