The Esports Industry
Video games are no longer confined to small rooms. From personal entertainment systems, to ‘LAN party’ subculture, to mainstream media, the industry has transformed and is changing at a tremendous pace.
Around the globe, traditional sports stadiums and arenas are now regularly packed with fans who turn up to experience their favourite professional players competing against each other in organised multiplayer video game competitions.
In 2019, Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania (US), made global, mainstream headlines by winning the inaugural Fornite World Cup taking home a prize of $3 million. Over 19,000 people attended the sold-out three-day event which was watched by millions of people online.
According to a recent report from Newzoo, a leading provider of intelligence and analytics focused on the interactive entertainment market, the esports industry has grown at a remarkable pace from $493 million in 2016, to $655 million in 2017 and reaching $1 billion in 2019.
In addition to attending live events, tournaments are also streamed live via platforms such as Twitch, Youtube Gaming or dedicated event-specific platforms (such as for Blizzard Entertainment’s BlizzCon). However, esports are far from confined to stadiums and live events.
Most competitions occur online, where the need for venues and other organisational burdens does not exist. Players compete individually or under contract as part of teams and large organisations. Amongst the most popular esports titles, first-person shooters (FPS) such as CS:GO (the title featured at ICE), multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBA) such as Riot Games’ League of Legends, and real-time strategy (RTS) such as Starcraft (the Blizzard Entertainment masterpiece that is considered by many as the ‘father’ of all esports) feature prominently.
In addition to esports, millions of people tune in on a daily basis to watch their favourite streamers provide entertainment playing video games on platforms such as Twitch and Mixer. Streamers build up dedicated followings of fans by combining their gaming skill with entertaining styles and personalities to create highly engaging experiences for viewers. The fan base, support and cultural influence of the world’s top streamers (such as Ninja, Tfue and Shroud) rivals that of traditional sports stars and mainstream celebrities.
Through a combination of advertising revenue, subscriptions, donations and sponsorship deals, game streaming can be a highly lucrative profession.