As a newer form of both professional level entertainment and competition, eSports are often underestimated. Especially the case with those unfamiliar with the gaming industry, those on the outside often display shock at finding the occasional game even been shown on major television channels, and this popularity is only growing.
While in some countries, like South Korea, major eSports tournaments have long held national recognition and acclaim, it is only just now that the rest of the world is following suit. So, just how large has this industry become, and how do we know it is more than just a flash in the pan?
A recent report from market research firm Newzoo has revealed that current trends predict 2019 eSports revenue streams to reach $1.1 billion. Having already cashed in $865.1 million in 2018, this would mark a 27.1% increase in a single year of growth.
Accounting for this rapid growth, in terms of player engagement, is the increasing familiarity with which the younger generations have with digital gaming. Those of us now in our 30s have grown up with gaming as a major part of our entertainment and social lives, driving us to higher levels of engagement than any who came before us.
This effect is even more pronounced with younger generations. Rather than having to suffer through the age of poor data connectivity as we did, the youth of today grew up with greater online competitive opportunities. This was accomplished through a lowering of data costs, the rise in availability of high-speed connections, and increased computing processing power and involved gaming infrastructure.
Halo is often regarded as one of the defining games which brought online multiplayer to the mainstream. While already available on PC for some time, making multiplayer easier than ever on consoles gave it a much larger audience, and helped show just how much potential this world contained, as Techraptor reports.
Given that this game came out on November 15, 2001, it should be no surprise that the environment has evolved considerably since this point.
While popularity in its own sphere is some measure of success, as are the financial rewards which are derived from this part of the market, this only tells part of the story. A full appreciation means taking an objective look at the surrounding and related industries, to see how it strikes those who might be traditionally uninvolved.
One such area is the growth of the gaming laptop market. Expected to reach a yearly revenue of $22 billion by 2023, this industry has been on the rise for years now. Increasingly, gaming is being considered an important part of basic computing operation, which has helped drive engagement in many of the popular eSports genres.
Of all these eSports genres, none are as visible as that of MOBA games. With the biggest eSports tournament in the world, The International, giving out what eSports Earnings reports as $25.53 million in prize money in 2018 alone, this has raised the bar for what professional level competitive gaming can accomplish.
Another way to look at this would be the participation of those industries which thrive based on audience interest. The online casino industry is one such example. As one of the more progressive forces, services like Betway have included many eSports games like Overwatch and CS:GO in their roster of available betting opportunities. This is only a valid path because of the game’s overall popularity, with increasingly more casinos turning to this newly reliable avenue.
ESPN is another example, as they too derive their profits in this area through increased public interest. Showing the likes of DOTA 2, League of Legends, and Street Fighter 5, this sports channel has understood the growing trends of eSports participation. As this is an undoubtedly increasing trend, we can only predict that such television involvement will expand in the future.
Where could it end?
Until market saturation approaches, it can be nearly impossible to tell just how far a growing industry like eSports will develop. As the youth of today have more interest than ever before, and the adoption of eSports within our society continues unabated, finding a natural end-point is as much guesswork as anything else.
Of course, no growth on this level could be sustained forever, but current indications are that we are only just seeing the first steps of the growing giant. Expect eSports to become a much larger part of the entertainment and cultural zeitgeist going forward; that much, at least, is a safe bet.