When you think about the rise of eSports, there are those who are surprised.
When we think of the rise of eSports, we saw it coming. What's left to think about for everyone is, what's going to happen next?
2019 was the first year the eSports market made over $1 billion. It has exponentially grown from just $130 million in 2012. In 2019, there were 201 million frequent viewers and 253 million casual viewers, compared with 58 million frequent and 76 million casual viewers in 2012. It's safe to say, eSports as an industry is on fire.
We expect to see a more diverse range of eSports titles in the future.
The majority of eSports titles are PC based MOBAs (think League of Legends). Although undoubtedly awesome games, they can be an intimidating prospect for the more casual gamer.
So, expect to see more mainstream games broadening out the eSports scene going forward, especially FPS games like Call of Duty and even mobile gaming tournaments. By doing this, the industry will continue appealing to existing fans and attract new ones.
Think of things from the TV companies’ point of view. Markets are saturated, key demographics are shifting their behaviors to streaming services away from paid cable packages. Of course, they’d like a piece of the eSports pie, but it’s not as simple as a big-money deal. Who owns the rights is difficult to pin down.
During a tournament, the content created is usually owned by publishers or event organizers. Videos produced by individual users are their own (and game companies happy for the free advertising). With eSports events becoming more and more popular, the issue of who owns the rights will become more contentious.
As we move forward, a key battleground for cashing in on the prosperous future of eSports will be who owns the rights to broadcast tournaments and events. We’d expect to see some very high-profile rights deals happening with some significant sums being paid for the privilege, once the issue of ownership is figured out.
There are two important considerations for the future of eSports when it comes to rules and regulations.
More money, more problems. As revenues, tournament prize money and sponsorship deals continue to grow, the risk of match-fixing, and the stakes from betting increase too. The issues emerge when looking to implement industry-wide change in an already fast-moving market.
Although eSports isn’t a new thing, in terms of rules and regulations, it might as well be brand new, because the rules to protect players lag far behind. eSports is an industry that almost operates entirely independently from oversight.
During the next 5 years, expect to see a lot of rules and regulations implemented to maintain the integrity of the industry, along with those to protect players from burnout.
eSports concentrates on a few specific locations, and these events are run at a local level.
Traditional sporting events build on a scalable marketing model. Local becomes regional, regional becomes national, and national becomes international. Few eSports events approach their audience and distribution with this in mind.
Within the next 5 years, we’ll see a lot of movement in the industry to promote events on a grander scale better – which will help eSports grow even further.
Already improving in recent years, expect eSports’ image to get better. The misconception in the wider world is of dirty gamers, who never stop gaming. The shift is coming – and people are starting to recognize players as superstar athletes. For example, premiership football clubs have begun to sign FIFA players to represent them at tournaments. Endorsement and sponsorship will grow over time in the eSports industry.
A stretch prediction from us would be that we’ll see some form of eSports in the Olympic games within 10 years.
The eSports industry will get more diverse during the next 5 years. A recent study estimated that almost 60% of women aged between 18-29 play video games, but only 5% of pro gamers are female. Expect there to be a concerted effort to be more inclusive within eSports to stop it from being a mainly male thing.
These are our predictions to where we see the near future of eSports. We’d love to know what you think of our predictions. Let us know on social media.