The Rise of E-Sports

Competitions such as the FIFA World Cup and Olympics are some of the biggest sporting events in terms of revenue. However, these events are based on physical sports such as football and athletics that are played in the real world. However, the world seems to be changing rapidly. Just like there are global competitions in baseball and basketball, there are also several global competitions in video games. Yes, this is right! Professional video game players are now a reality.

In this article, we will have a closer look at the rise of e-sports as well as its economic effects

Increasing Audience Base: The number of people who are willing to pay money in order to view professional video game players play games is increasing by the day. As of today, there are more than 385 million people across the world, viewing e-sports in some form or another.

The statistics are simply staggering. In 2016, a stadium with 15,000 seats in Los Angeles was sold out in a matter of seconds because it was hosting a high profile video game event. There has been another instance where a stadium with over 40,000 seats has been sold off instantaneously. Apart from having live audiences who view these events from stadiums, there is also TV-based viewership. Some big e-sporting events have been watched by as many as 27 million people! These events are broadcasted in several countries in Asia in particular. Also, since there are so many people viewing these events, the prize money has also increased substantially. In 2010, the total prize money across all e-sporting events totaled about $5 million. In 2017, the number was greater than $100 million. The popularity of e-sports is increasing at a rapid pace.

The viewership numbers of some e-sporting events are almost on par with the NBA events. Hence, discounting e-sports as a small industry which caters only to enthusiasts would be wrong. The fact of the matter is that e-sports are rapidly turning into a mass market.

Evolution of Video Games: The rise of e-sports has coincided with the rise of video games in the world. Earlier, most played video games included games such as World of Warcraft. These games had several levels and could be played for days on end. There were no clear winners or losers since this was a role-playing game. However, of late, League of Legends has become a popular video game. Its popularity can be attributed to the fact that this video game is free and can be played by anyone. Also, the typical game lasts for about an hour and has a winning team as well as a losing team. This format fits the format of competitive sports like basketball and football. This is why most video-gaming events around the world are played on league of legends.

The Rise of High-Speed Internet: The earlier versions of video games were very crude. This is because of the slow internet connections which were prevalent during that time. However, modern-day video games have a lot of graphics. This makes them pleasing to the viewers who find the experience akin to watching an animated movie. However, this increase in the quality of graphics has only been made possible by the rise of high-speed internet. It is, therefore, no surprise that the maximum number of video gamers, as well as the audience that views e-sports, comes from countries with very fast internet connections. This is the reason why South Korea, which is known for broadband connections, is home to a large number of e-sports enthusiasts.

Notable Activity in the E-Sports Domain

The e-sports domain has seen a lot of activity by big corporations. This is a testimony to the fact that e-sports has a bright economic future and that these companies want to take positions before it becomes too late.

  • For instance, Twitch is the largest broadcaster of e-sports events. In the year 2014, Amazon acquired twitch for an astounding price of $1 billion! At that time it appeared as though Amazon had overpaid for the service. However, in 2017, Twitch had streamed more than 5 billion hours of content. The viewership is very loyal. This is because the games continue for about an hour. During that time, the viewership is completely engaged.
  • NBA has acknowledged the popularity of e-sports. They have created an entirely new league called the NBA 2k league. This is an e-sports league just like the others. However, the NBA wanted to be the first one to create this league so that other sporting companies are not able to capitalize on the popularity of the NBA in the e-sporting domain. NBA is looking at this league as their expansion into the virtual world.
  • Sony has created a dedicated station for e-sports enthusiasts. This station will broadcast e-sports related content for all 24 hours!
  • YouTube has also signed one of its biggest contracts with gaming platform Faceit. This contract gives YouTube, the exclusive rights to broadcast their content. The financial details of this deal are not known.

To sum it up, e-sports has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. Many multinational corporations are vying for a piece of the action. Over the next few years, the industry is likely to grow at a rapid pace. At the present moment, there is a place for all new entrants in this rapidly growing industry. However, over time the competition is likely to intensify.

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