It may come as a surprise but competitive video gaming events have been about a rather long time. Until recently they were a niche pastime that mainly appealed only to the most committed players. However now all the signs suggest that eSports is going to be very big, and much sooner than even the most optimistic gamer may have hoped.
There’s a number of reasons that are central to why eSports now enjoys a much more mainstream appeal. Without question this recent success comes down to the sheer numbers of players who participate in the biggest online competitive communities. Games such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, Dota 2 and numerous others sport tens of millions of active participants from across the globe. Clearly it was only a matter of time before efforts were made to monetize this enormous untapped market – and the figures really do make for astonishing reading.
The Astonishing Growth Of The eSports Market
Competitive eSports is such a young market that the only reliable figures date from as recently as 2015. Over this period the market has pretty much doubled every two years, growing from $218m to $440m over the last couple of years. Industry experts predict that there’s little chance of the market slowing, and instead believe that the ever growing number of lucrative tournaments – followed in some cases by millions of viewers online – will continue this trend. It’s confidently projected that by the turn of the decade, eSports will be a billion dollar industry when advertising and sponsorship are pooled together.
The advertising potential inherent to eSports is one of the reasons why a number of the major online giants have been quick to invest heavily in streaming services geared towards broadcasting the largest events. Amazon’s purchase of Twitch (the largest online streaming service for eSports) in 2014 is looking like an ever more intelligent acquisition, but it’s by no means all about keeping eSports being broadcast as an online only pastime. Instead major TV networks such as ESPN, Sky Sports and Turner have all secured broadcasting rights to the largest tournaments, and are now in the process of making these available to air on their networks.
All this recent investment has also served to considerably enhance the actual product on offer. Now that prize funds are many times larger than what was on offer just a couple of years ago, we have now seen the development of professional gaming teams (or clans) each with their own fan base. All the signs are that just like a traditional sports team, eSports are gaining a much higher profile and all the trappings that follow such success. The most successful teams have already been negotiating private sponsorship deals that are rumored to have already broken through the seven figure mark.
Online Gambling Is Taking Serious Notice
Currently South East Asia is the hotbed of competitive eSports and already many of the largest regional online casinos have offered eSports betting services. Worldwide, all of the top casinos offer some form of eSports betting or are hard at work adding this option to their services. Industry leaders such as InstaCasino realize that not only is this a buoyant market, but it’s also a great way of appealing to the typically young demographic who spend the most following their favorite eSports.
Regulation May Be The Biggest Hurdle
When big money becomes involved in any sport, history shows that it’s essential got the sport to have a strong governing body that establishes and protects an agreed level of standards. eSports are understandably still trying to catch up in this regard, and while talks are ongoing the fact remains that for now the vast majority of teams are pretty much free to look after their own concerns. This has raised questions over potential max fixing – always a risk when money is being wagered – but so far none of these have stood up to serious scrutiny (mainly because there’s nobody to perform the investigation!).
That being said and given the massive investment being made by corporate interests it’s absolutely certain that this investment will be made on the understanding that the eSports community agrees to fall under the charge of a regulatory body. Once this is all in place then the sky really is the limit as to how far competitive eSports can go. Either way make no mistake this is a sport that is going to be around well into the future.