By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor
Electronic games first appeared in the 1960s and their rapid development and worldwide expansion, is directly linked to the technological advances in computing of the last six decades. The launch of the Internet and the World Wide Web allowed gamers to compete against each other in multiplayer games without having to be in the same physical location. The electronic games played in a competitive environment were named eSports and the competing gamers participating in them e –Athletes, in a sense similar to traditional sports. E-Athletes don’t just compete for the sake of winning, but can earn substantial amounts of prize money in international e-Sport competitions.
ESports is only a small fraction of the overall gaming market, but it’s expanding really fast, with nearly 38% growth last year. It follows a business model similar to traditional sports, with income from sponsorships, advertising, media rights and licensing but its unique characteristics don’t allow us to project its future development in the same way we would do in traditional sports. We have pinpointed several issues that will determine the future course and evolution of eSports which we analyze below.
There is a variety of popular eSports games in terms of participation worldwide, but most of them belong to only a few genres such Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). Their complex game play might be difficult for viewers who never played the game to follow, leading to a decrease in viewership numbers. While these games have gained the respect of the gamers’ community because of the strategic thinking and skill required to be mastered, more diverse and more accessible game genres such as shooter, sports and mobile games would attract wider audiences and enlarge the e-Athletes base.
In its current phase, eSports have not yet established a structure and hierarchy in a national, regional and global level, as traditional sports have. As a consequence, eSports may be unable to attract global sponsors with bigger advertising budgets and is limited to receiving sponsorship money on a local level. For eSports to go forward, local eSports activities should be rather formally connected to larger national, regional and global tournaments with the support of sport marketers and the establishment of local, national and international associations.
The growth of eSports has been explosive but the eSports community was not able to keep up with setting up a regulatory framework for the sport. With the introduction of betting on the outcome of eSports and with millions of dollars in prize pools, there is a need for an updated set of rules and regulations and the use of betting monitoring software that will protect the sport from cheating and match fixing. In addition, after various e-Athletes were found to use performance-enhancing drugs; introducing Anti-Doping controls is a one-way road for the protection of e-Athletes and the integrity of the eSports community.
The ownership of Media Rights in eSports is a labyrinth to be solved, as it is currently uncertain who owns the rights to eSports content, something that limits the income from projecting competitive gaming in traditional media, which is one of the biggest sources of income in traditional sports. The fact that companies own the games played in eSports in contrary to sports like football and basketball that nobody owns, is a very complex issue that needs to be resolved in order for eSports to move forward.
Integration of eSports into the Olympics is already being discussed by the IOC since June 2018 and it will be a huge stepping stone for the eSports establishment. While it seems that there is still a long way before eSports is fully accepted into the Olympics, giving the opportunity to e-Athletes to compete and earn Olympic medals, it will be a huge push to attracting more people to the sport.
ESsports will continue to grow and there is no sign of them slowing down any time soon. Stadiums will continue to fill with people who want to watch e-Athletes competing at the highest level. Opportunities for e-Athletes are also increasing but competition is increasing too, so hard work and discipline, as in any other traditional sport, is the only way to success. People who still think that eSports is about some young people stuck in their homes for days, have not yet comprehended the size and competitiveness of the sport.
The Money Smart Athlete team is here to help you with any questions you may have regarding eSports, their future and the potential challenges for e-athletes. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to be of assistance!