The eSports industry has been on a surge lately, and Newzoo has the stats to back that up — $325 million in revenue in 2015, $493 million in 2016, and if projections hold up, $660 million in 2017. Those numbers are expected to continue trending upward in the next few years, culminating in what likely will be a massive $1.5 billion haul for the industry in 2020.
While the $1.5 billion seems like a high target, it is not beyond the realms of possibility. It is, in fact, quite likely that the industry will meet that projection, or even exceed it. Exactly how the industry will do it is the big question. Here are some possibilities:
Game publishers, as Sports Illustrated’s Daniel Rapaport explains in his in-depth look at eSports, use eSports “as a means to increase the shelf-life of their own games’ popularity and to appeal to players of other games.” These game publishers make a huge profit when their games are featured in competitions, so look for them to continue paying a lot of money to keep it that way.
Partnerships with Traditional Sports
Along with the growth of eSports has been an increase in partnerships between eSports clubs and franchises in traditional professional sports like basketball, football, and American football. Such partnerships, as Rapaport points out, are happening with increasing frequency, and it is a practice that will likely continue in the coming years. Already, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers has bought Team Apex and Team Dignitas, while the Miami Heat has formalized a partnership with Misfits. The Milwaukee Bucks, through the Fortress Investment group of co-owner Wes Edens, announced the launching of their own esports franchise named FlyQuest. Over in Europe, four of the top European football teams—Paris Saint-Germain (France), Manchester City (England), Schalke (Germany), and Ajax (Netherlands), each have partnered with gamers to represent their teams.
Increased Mainstream Coverage
Last year, NBC Sports jumped on the eSports bandwagon, becoming the latest in a long list of TV networks that have bet on the increasing popularity of the industry, with ESPN and Turner (through TBS) among those on the list. NBC Sports, though, took things further, partnering with game developer Psyonix and online competitive gaming organization FACEIT to hold an actual esports tournament—the Rocket League. The league’s inaugural season was a big success, drawing over 5,000 players and selling out the Esports Arena in California for the grand finals. Expect more of the same in 2018 and beyond as demand for esports coverage increases along with its fan base.
Clearly the emergence of eSports has upped the ante for the gaming industry, taking all-time favourites like Counter-Strike and NBA Live onto a whole new level—one in which a match between Luminosity and Virtus.pro is watched by millions as it is either streamed live on Twitch or covered by ESPN.
Like eSports, mobile gaming has been shining a light on certain games and making them more accessible for players and gaming fans. The online gaming sector is one part of the gaming industry that has tailored its platforms to the playing preferences of mobile users. Digital games provider Slingo is now using live action technology to give players the most immersive gaming experience online. Mobile games have evolved around making the games even more accessible, a trend that is now happening in eSports.
eSports still has a long way to reach the value of mobile gaming with Goto Game predicting that the mobile gaming industry was worth $46.1 billion in 2017. However eSports is taking the online gaming experience even further by not only creating online tournaments, but also creating dedicated arenas for players to compete.
The Opening of Esports Arena Las Vegas
The new Esports Arena Las Vegas is set to open this year, and once it does, it is expected to be the global crux of everything eSports. The 30,000-square-foot multi-level arena will have, among others, a competition stage, a massive LED video wall, telescopic seating, daily gaming stations, and ultra modern production studios. It is expected to become the mecca of eSports as the industry continues to build momentum for bigger, brighter years ahead.