Amid global industry disruption, the gaming and esports industries have seen unprecedented surges in growth, revenue, and user base. While this may not have been such a shocker for the gaming industry that relies on about 3.24 billion active gamers, it was a much more impressive feat for the comparably younger esports industry. As per WeForum’s reports on pandemic-time esports, the industry’s value grew to over $1 billion in 2020 alone. This is despite having a much smaller market than other sporting or gaming sectors. Currently, esports’ meteoric rise means it is now poised to be the biggest gaming industry trendsetter.
How Esports Rose to Mainstream Prominence
But just how did a relative niche sector become such a success that’s now expected to be worth more than $1.5 billion by 2023? As outlined by Maryville University’s post on the evolution of esports, this is thanks to a strong social component and calculated investments. Unlike other professional sports, esports purposefully creates a much more interactive bridge between fans and their chosen teams. Mediums like Twitch, YouTube, and other social media platforms are often used for interaction and live-streaming. This allows esports to encompass gaming, media, pop culture, and commerce. Aside from this, because esports investments are up by several billion over the last few years, there have been better-funded and mounted tournaments that draw in more viewers. Presently, tourney prize money is increasing by an average of 42% annually. This has encouraged mainstream news outlets to air these tournaments, which further validates the industry and exposes it to larger audiences. This well-developed strategy has cemented esports in the mainstream and positioned it for further growth.
The Influence and Impact of Esports in Gaming
Because esports is rooted in the gaming industry, its ripple effect inarguably creates waves within game developers. Whereas before esports was created around existing games and gameplay rules, today, many developers are designing titles with esports in mind. Case in point, VentureBeat’s interview with Riot Games executive John Needham underscores just how pivotal esports has become to gaming industry movements. From 2021 onwards, the organization has been doubling down on esports titles like League of Legends, Wild Rift, and Valorant. This comes after seeing esports revenues grow by 70% in the past four years. Similarly, other gaming giants like Sony and Nintendo have pivoted their agendas to include esports. Over the last few years, both titans have rolled out games and consoles that are also optimized for esports. This reflects an undeniable influence that sees esports taking an active role in shaping the broader gaming industry.
What the Future Holds for the Esports Ecosystem
Although esports has seen a bit of a drop-in viewership following the resumption of many physical activities, there’s no doubting its potential. To date, analysts still expect that total esports viewership will reach nearly 646 million by next year, and its player base will swell to just under 280 million by this year. Currently, esports has already begun to show its impact not just in gaming but also in other areas. Notably, esports has even become recognized at the collegiate level. As we covered in our listicle of “5 Reasons You Should Not Sleep on Collegiate Esports”, numerous universities in North America have begun their own esports program. To this effect, large-scale collegiate esports tournaments like Collegiate Rocket League (CRL) and College CoD (CCL) have been gaining momentum. On top of this, even traditional sporting organizations are dipping into esports. In The Conversation’s article on the future of sports, they reported on rumors that the International Olympic Committee and South-East Asian Games had been exploring adding esports into their programs. Overall, this only proves that esports is not far from being the gaming industry’s biggest and most influential success.
Written exclusively for atlantapremier.gg
By Jandace Kim