By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor
Video games were considered a waste of time by the majority of parents who saw their children spending an excessive number of hours in front of a screen, with a controller in their hands, instead of studying for school. Nowadays, there are people who quit their 9 to 5 jobs to become professional gamers and earn up to six figures per year. This form of competitive video gaming, where teams or individuals compete against each other, mostly in online tournaments, to earn prize money or other benefits, is called Esports.
Esports stands for electronic sports and shares many similarities to traditional sports. Talented gamers are recruited to build teams, online events are created and promoted, new technology is used to support gameplay, traditional gamblers are now shifting their bets on esports and some of the biggest companies in the world are sponsoring esports tournaments in order to gain exposure in their target audiences.
While the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc to the majority of industries, the nature of esports, with an estimated of 2.8 billion gamers globally, has actually grown into one of the most profitable industries in the world. It is expected to rise to $2.96 billion by 2022 according to Goldman Sachs. Esports is no longer just a trend and everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie. The following examples illustrate the extreme rate of growth and the opportunities that appear in Esports:
- In 2018, a League of Legends tournament hosted by Germany and France became the most watched Esports event, with 60 million unique viewers. Projections that these numbers will continue growing, led broadcasters such as Twitch Walt Disney and Turner Broadcasting to spend millions of dollars to secure the digital broadcasting rights for popular online esports tournaments.
- Traditional professional sports leagues such as the NBA, are developing franchise-based leagues that will operate in a similar way to professional sports leagues. The “NBA2KL” Esports league debuted in 2018 and featured 18 NBA teams which formed esports teams to represent them and competed with identical functions to the NBA with a draft, trades and playoffs. Such initiatives and developments are crucial to the future of Esports as it will give a more stable platform to sponsors and broadcasters to invest their money.
- Over 100 US universities have started Esports teams to attract potential students who would like to pursue a career in Esports, some of them even offering scholarships for talented gamers. The University of Akron invested $750,000 in 2018 to develop esports facilities where students can socialize and compete in online video games.
- Prominent sports figures such as Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Mike Tyson have already invested in Esports, either in Esports teams, game developers or online tournament organizers.
The financial gains for investors and companies who have invested in Esports show that it will continue growing in popularity and in market size in the coming years.
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