Esports: A ‘Small Market’ Destined For Stardom

Technology advancements often lead to rather curious developments that confuse non-geeks. To put it simply, esports typically is defined as a multiplayer video game widely viewed by spectators.

In this blog, I’d like to share a bit of information about esports, and what is expected in the near future.

League of Legends Dominates

Even with increasing fanfare, only a very small handful of video games are popular in esports – and that niche market is further dominated by League of Legends. As noted by Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two CEO, while speaking at a conference:

“Right now, the entire esports business is under $1 billion. Small market. All of the money is going to ‘League of Legends’. So, you have all the money going to ‘League of Legends,’ which, just as a reminder, we do not own, and then like $0.30 going to ‘Overwatch,’ ‘Dota,’ and a few other things, and then even less than that going to us. And that’s just the truth.”

Thankful to League for its overwhelming popularity, but the small selection of titles needs to branch out sooner rather than later. Market maturation will provide more titles – and increased selection. However, it cannot be a forced process, so game developers simply can’t design a game solely to try to make a new esports title.

Current Market … and Look to the Future

Global viewership is predicted to reach 195 million this year, an impressive 18 percent year-over-year increase, according to a recent Newzoo report. By 2021, that growth will balloon the fan base near 580 million – a figure I believe is certainly feasible.

Fostering Esports for the Long-Term

Countries are fostering their own esports programs at various levels. In the United States, more colleges and universities expressed interest in esports leagues – and tournaments with cash prize pools are hosted all over the country. Some Las Vegas casinos are jumping into the fun by building custom arenas.

South Korea, a tech-crazy nation with extremely fast Internet access, has welcomed professional gaming with open arms. Younger children in the country strive to be the next generation of top players, with amateur development leagues already in place.

Ahead of hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan wants to step up its esports presence. Regardless if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) backs esports – a rather controversial topic I’ll cover in the future – Japan is ramping up esports efforts. The Japan Times published a fantastic story about the current state of Nippon esports, and how some legal roadblocks are problematic.

Final Thoughts

I remember a time when the only recognizable professional gamer was Fatal1ty, when he was destroying practically everyone in Quake III Arena. Fast forward about 15 years, and it’s impressive to see how far competitive gaming has come. I’ve seen plenty of criticism related to esports on ESPN, talk of it in the Olympics, and so on… and there will always be some type of controversy.

[Image courtesy of Pixabay / dife88]

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