E-Sports are taking the world by storm and have shown phenomenal growth over the least few years. It’s just the beginning and this trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon. We investigate 10 awesome reasons why E-sports will take off in this new decade.
What are E-Sports?
Let’s first define what e-sports are. According to the Oxford British dictionary an e-sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” This sounds pretty much like any other sports, doesn’t it? True, but somehow many people consider it more of a game than a sport, clearly because there is a lack of physical activity, they argue! It’s the same kind of reasoning those same persons use for chess and darts being no real sports. I disagree. E-sports are a real sports, period!
Why is it considered a sports?
Why? Because focus, skill, perseverance and strategy is required, like in any other sports! What about the physical argument then? Clearly, in order to be a peak performer, you need to be in excellent physical shape. If not, you will not realize the best in yourself. Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual skills have to function in unison! They are interrelated. The emphasis might not be at the physical level, but it ticks all the boxes. It’s the same as arguing that weightlifting is not a sports because it could be performed with limited emotional skills.
The top guys and girls are training 8 hours a day. They are real athletes with coaches, trainers, staff, nutritionists etc. They earn a very decent salary, just like in any other sports. Look for example at all the Sim racing games and leagues like Formula 1. You need to have excellent skills to outperform! So, now that’s out of the way, let’s see where E-sports stand at the moment.
E-sports is already an enormous market
You boomers probably don’t realise this but E-sports is already a big thing! Watch this little impression of the Recent Intel ExtremeMasters in Katowice. That might give you a hint!
Let’s plunge in a little deeper!Lets first start with the game market in general. According to Newzoo, this market has already exceeded the USD 150 bn mark in 2019 and is expected to grow by at least 9% in the coming few years. This is done with a mindboggling 2,5 bln gamers, mind you! That’s clearly a growth market I would say.
That’s the total game market, but what about the E-sports market? Whereas the game market is largely entertainment oriented, a subsection is E-sports, where professional athletes and teams battle it out, often organised in leagues.
According to the earlier mentioned Newzoo global revenues from E-sports in 2019 amounted to around USD 1.1 bln and are expecting to grow very rapidly in the coming few years to at least USD 1.8bln in 2022 but very likely substantially higher. Mind you, there were already an estimated 450 mln viewers in 2019. Goldman Sachs estimates that E-sports viewers represent just 5% of the online population. That’s still incredibly low and shows the tremendous opportunity!
Why are Esports taking off?
1. The demographics are in favor of the new generations
It’s simple: GenZ and Gen Alpha are the ones playing e-games and sports and enjoying it. As a group they are growing relatively to the other generations. It’s simple math and doing the equations. Babyboomers as a group are slowly fading out at the benefit of the newer generations. It means new sports like e-sports Are likely to gain further traction. Hence going forward, demographics can be seen as one of the major drivers.
See also: How GenZ will change the world of sports
2. It’s all about technology and social engagement stupid.
That’s it, those elements are what it is really all about for the new generations. They love their games because it is interactive. You either play with someone or against someone actively on-line. For GenZ and Gen Alpha it doesn’t matter whether you meet each other in person or on-line. They have grown up with technology, which is totally entangled into their lives. On screen or in real, what’s the difference? I have heard them shouting and cheering to one another in front of their computers when another target had been hit.
3. E-sports are for everyone!
Can you still remember school? The popular guys were the ones outperforming in sports! That’s gone now! Nerdy guys (and by no means I see this as a disqualification) have as much chance to become new stars in E-sports as the physical hunks of this world. It’s chances for everyone, both girls and boys! No longer a gender gap! Equality is the name of the game. Again clearly a positive driver!
4. Easy to access, very low barriers of entry!
Just buy yourself a computer or a phone (and I bet most of you are in the possession of both) and connect it to internet and off you go! No field, gear, traveling, facilities or anything else required. So, it’s relatively cheap, which is an advantage! Moreover you can do it anywhere in the world at any time with anybody. That’s quite different from your ordinary sport, I would say. As you can do it with someone else, it also has the social element. If you have seen the popularity of online poker, you can imagine what E-sports could do.
5. GenZ likes to identify with individual stars rather than with teams.
E-sports are well suited for this as these athletes definitely have star status. If you realise that one of the best earning e-sports athletes Johan Sundstein (n0tail) has a whopping 222,000 followers on Twitter alone, you realize how popular these guys are. That’s a following which can easily compete with many top players in for example the NHL. It shows these guys Have real star status and earn tons of money.
6. Olympic status looming.
Some traditional sports already jumping on the bandwagon. There is much talk of E-sports getting Olympic status. The IOC said recently that competitive gaming entails physical activity which can be compared to that required in more traditional sports”. Hence we would not be surprised when E-sports will become a demonstration sports in Paris 2024 and an official sport in 2028 at the LA Olympics.
In the mean time the Asian Games have already stated that Esports will be an official sport in 2022 whilst traditional sports organisations such as the Premier League, UEFA and Formula 1 also are embracing E-sports by launching their own leagues. Watch this impression from the Formula 1 racing league. This might also open the door for more traditional fans, making the sports even more popular.
7. New platforms and leagues are being established with huge money at stake
The industry is slowly getting its act together. With the establishment of new leagues and pricepools getting bigger everytime, both the number of viewers and players as well as the familiarity with existing teams is growing fast. It means that the sports is quickly learning and professionalising and becoming big business. It now can start to compare itself with other professionaly organized sports.
To give you an indication, the International 2019 Dota 2 tournament had a purse of an astonishing USD 34 mln. Another example is the tremendouslypopular game Fortnite. Epic Games, was putting up $100 mln alone in prize money for competitive tournaments in 2019. Makes you really think of swapping careers! Unfortunately I am too bad at it…..
8. Streaming is and will be one of the engines of growth
As gaming has shown tremendous growth and will likely continue to do so, the desire to watch a professional game has also increased. Many (and I mean the younger ones) love to watch the best players in the game, not only for fun, but also to learn and to become better. Streaming platforms like for example Twitch and Youtube have been instrumental for the growth of the sports. People just love to see the stars at work! As stated earlier, penetration is still low, so it is not a difficult prediction that there is still plenty of growth ahead.
9. Sponsors and media are pouring in
Sponsorships and media rights account for around 46% and 23% of total e-sports revenues of USD 1.1bln. Both sponsors and media are realising the enormous opportunity of this market. This growth in revenues and popularity is unlikely to end anytime soon. With the higher revenues, more money can be reinvested in prize money and leagues, which no doubt will attract more fans.
10. Gamification and sportification are offering further longterm opportunities.
The popularity of e-sports can be further leveraged into traditional sports. You can already see it happening. There are professional Esports soccer competitions with the household names of the real professional teams participating. Big soccer brands like Ajax, Manchester City and PSG have already ventured into Esports contracting players.
Formula One (see above) is doing the same. Undoubtedly other sports will follow suit. Besides this gamification trend of real sports, existing games might also become real physical sports, where E-athletes with their VR goggles on will physically play the game in a VR/AR landscape in a big hall. Sportification of games!
Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it is pretty clear! E-sports are here to stay. No doubt they will gain in popularity and take away share of traditional sports. Would I put my money where my mouth is? Absolutely! What do you think?