Many still consider a video game to be just that: a video game. Something like online casino games can see you spend a few hours online every now and again, for a bit of fun and entertainment. But there are a growing number of people who consider video games not as entertainment, but as a challenging and serious activity that should be approached with all due seriousness. Or, to be more precise, the same seriousness with which others tend to regard football or rugby. If this fact surprises you, you obviously have yet to realise that eSports is fast becoming one of the most watched forms of entertainment in the world.
eSports is becoming enormously popular, and is already considered a major industry. Hundreds of millions in hard cash passed hands in 2016 based on eSports and eSports betting, and there is certainly no sign that this enormous yearly sum is going to get any less. In fact, on the contrary, eSports revenue is set to grow exponentially for at least the next few years, predicted to hit 1 billion dollars by 2019. It all begs the very serious question as to whether eSports is going to be the next king of the sports industry. It’s a question that is bizarre to some, and even outlandish, given that eSports in general has exploded onto the scene so suddenly. But, make no mistake, it certainly is a possibility.
Money, Money, Money
When talking about the growth or death of any industry, what you’re really talking about is how much revenue that industry is going to generate on a regular basis. In the case of eSports, and its potential to become an industry king, it needs to be considered where exactly the money is coming from – or, to be more specific, what aspect of it is responsible for putting dollars in bank accounts. After all, money does not magically generate and fly into people’s hands every time a group of people sit down to play a professional video game. So where is the money coming from?
eSports, like most sports, generates much of its revenue via advertising and sponsorship. It is obviously no accident that the computers professional eSports players play on have their brand names very clearly displayed to the camera as often as possible. The number of eyes seeing that computer logo equals advertising, and without it, eSports wouldn’t exist at all. Hence, it’s a very simple sum; the number of eyes seeing advertising equals the amount of cash generated per eSports broadcast. The more eyes there are, the more potential there is to make cash. It’s as easy as that.
eSports Versus Other Sports
So, given the fact that there are roughly 131 million eSports enthusiasts who watch eSports regularly, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the revenue potential is enormous. That’s not even taking into consideration that there is also revenue generated from eSports betting. But, how do these impressive sounding numbers compare to, say, the FIFA World Cup?
The 2014 FIFA World Cup attracted just over 1 billion eyes overall. This is a number that eSports could currently only dream of and hope to achieve in the distant future. The average eSports broadcast attracts around 500,000 to 1 million eyes, which is a good amount, but not in the same league as the up-to-a-billion globally that a single football match can attract.
That is to say, if anyone is suggesting that eSports compares to traditional sports, this isn’t the case. At least not yet, and certainly not where the most mainstream sports are concerned. But yes, traditional sports have been around for centuries, and eSports have just barely entered onto the scene – and this is also certainly something that should be taken into consideration.
If the question is, “Will eSports be the next big thing?”, the answer is simple: eSports already is a big thing, and it’s certainly set to become a much bigger thing than it already is. Talk of eSports toppling traditional sports could be farfetched and fantastical, but you can bet on eSports creeping more into the mainstream as it expands and attracts new pairs of eyes. Just how big it will get is anyone’s guess, but other industries have certainly sat up and started to take notice of eSports in general. Traditional sports are constantly in a state of change, adjusting and evolving to attract as many viewers as possible. And it is not at all farfetched to say that traditional sports are probably concerned about eSports, if nothing else.
If you’re imagining a future where eSports and traditional sports exist side by side, holding an equal number of enthusiasts, this is probably not impossible. But for the time being, it’s not a possibility any time in the near future. For the time being there are those who watch eSports, and those who don’t. But the idea of seeing eSports enthusiasts gathered in a local pub to share a beer and watch the CS:GO still seems a little bizarre.