Esports Projected Growth

There is a YUGE election happening tomorrow. I don’t know if there will be an apparent winner before bedtime tomorrow night. In 2016, I stayed up watching the news until (to everyone’s great surprise) Trump gave an acceptance speech at 3am.

I don’t play video games. Whether you do or not, you’ll want to keep an eye on this important cultural and financial trend. Regardless of who wins the 2020 US election, people around the world will be playing a lot of video games. The following report is the work of Samford undergraduate student Erica Eades.  

Esports is a competitive level of gaming that involves players winning money. Professional esports players are typically sponsored by companies affiliated with video games. Students are becoming more and more involved in esports. League of Legends World Championship was 2019’s biggest tournament by live viewership hours on Twitch and YouTube, with 105.5 million hours.

When the pandemic reached the U.S. the sports industry shifted their focus. Many leagues were able to quickly restart their competitions in a different format as esports, which quickly transitioned its in-person events to online-only games. For many months following the pandemic esports was the only option if you wanted to watch a live competitive event.

I had an interview with Noah Hankinson, a professional eSports gamer and consultant that has conducted extensive work with the NCAA, Learfield Sports, and multiple eSports properties. Noah shared perspectives on the state of eSports and demographics.

According to Noah, the most popular game is constantly changing. Although a game may be incredibly popular one week, it could be obsolete the next. To learn what game is most popular during a given time frame, simply observe the games famous Twitch players are using. Many Twitch streamers focus on only one game, but others will focus on what is most popular at the time so that they can maximize revenue from viewership. Noah informed me that the ‘traditional’ games such as Call of Duty, League of Legends, or Rocket League are growing. These games are the most popular and have the widest reach across all eSports demographics.

Depending on the game being played, there are different rules and formats each team (or individual) must adhere to. Popular games include football and soccer, where player roles or team game plans are more well known. Many eSports are based on individual talent, much like wrestling or track-and-field. Over the years, as eSports has become more of an emerging community, college organizations have started to help push the next generation of eSports competitors.

From a social standpoint, esports are more inclusive than other sports. Men and women are able to play on the same teams and teams are made up of individuals from various demographics and ages. Esports is not just a young demographic, eSports gamers ages in America range from 12 to 60 with the average age being 33 years old.  

Many predictions have been made about the growth of the industry. As teams of eSports members populate across the country, the unprecedented growth of the competitive gaming industry continues to rise. Newzoo is the leading provider of market intelligence covering the global games, esports, and mobile markets. The data from newzoo allows them to project the esports industry esports revenue stream worldwide based on sponsorship. In 2018, the global market esports revenue was $776.4 million. The global esports revenue will probably hit $973.9 million in 2020, and $1.194 billion in 2021. 

This projected growth has made it important to maintain positive relationships with current and future partners in the industry. With increased interest in esports there is a momentum for new partners to enter the industry and increase revenue. Using the data that projected the revenue and growth can be beneficial for many esports executives and the industry as whole. It will be interesting to follow and see how the industry continues once live sports are able to resume normally. After the “at home” year that brought so much to esports, observers agree that the industry’s upward trajectory is continuing.

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