From the rise of social media giants like Facebook to multinational e-commerce sites like Amazon, the digital revolution has helped create many overnight success stories.
But one of the more surprising developments that rose with broadband technologies is that of esports. This competitive gaming phenomenon has come from nowhere to become one of the world’s most exciting entertainment trends. A recent report by Newzoo stated that the esports industry is expected to be worth at least $1.7 billion by 2021, and seeing as the competitive gaming phenomenon has been with us for less than 20 years, it’s clear that there’s plenty of room for even more growth.
But what is esports and how has it grown to become a billion dollar industry? Simply put, esports is just like traditional sports, but its competitors play video games rather than sports like football or tennis.
What’s truly surprising is the way that esports has grown to become a spectator sport. Whilst it might sound odd to want to watch other people playing video games, millions of people tune in live to watch other gamers playing popular esports like the first-person shooter Counter Strike Global Offensive or the battle arena title, League of Legends.
A key part of the appeal of esports is that it caters to a demand for competitive gaming that was always there, but never got chance to reach its potential. Whilst competitive gaming tournaments have been around for many years, it was only through the introduction of broadband technologies that gamers were able to compete with other gamers no matter where in the world they were. As a result, we have seen an explosion in competitive gaming that crosses borders to become a truly global phenomenon.
Some of the world’s leading games developers were quick to notice this trend, and there have been moves made to create gaming titles that appear to be specifically designed with esports in mind. For example, Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch game has become a massive hit in esports in just a couple of years.
By cleverly blending elements from first-person shooters and battle arena games, Overwatch has become one of the more dynamic team-based esports titles around that makes it perfect for achieving massive viewing figures.
We have also seen the growing standardisation of rules and gameplay in the esports realm. Whilst competitive gaming was fairly chaotic in its infancy, it looks to be gradually maturing with professionally organised tournaments like the Overwatch League ensuring that a fixed number of teams and players take part.
Such measures not only help to produce fair gameplay and accurate statistics that makes it easy to place a bet on an esports contest through a site like , but it also opens up competitive gaming to a range of big money sponsors.
In the past decade there has been many multinational firms taking steps to sponsor esports tournaments, teams and players. From energy drinks manufacturers like Red Bull to famous automobile brands like Audi, it seems that many companies are keen to partner up with esports so as to reach a younger demographic who increasingly bypass traditional media forms.
In addition to this, the fact that McDonalds would give up their sponsorship of the German football association to sponsor the German ESL Meisterschaft esports tournament tells you all you need to know about how quickly things are changing.
Like in any rapidly growing industry, it’s the dynamic nature of esports that makes it so attractive to investors and sponsors. Overnight success stories such as Fortnite can appear from nowhere, and similarly, we have seen how famous esports players like Ninja can offer brands a fresh new face that is perfect for sponsorship deals that don’t follow the traditional archetype. So whilst it’s easy to be sceptical about the rapid developments in the esports realm, it seems as though the competitive gaming phenomenon is here to stay.