Over the past decade, the esports industry has experienced remarkable growth, transforming from a niche market to a mainstream phenomenon. One of the key factors contributing to this expansion is the widespread adoption of digital platforms, making it easier for audiences worldwide to engage with their favorite games and players. As a result, the viewership of esports events has skyrocketed, with millions of fans tuning in to watch top-tier competitions in various gaming titles.
In addition to the boom in viewership, the esports audience has diversified over the years, attracting people from various age groups, cultures, and backgrounds. This increased interest has led to a significant growth in revenue, with the global esports market generating hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Also worth a mention is the countless number of sites that provide updates, features and info about eSports. Several are at the pinnacle of their field. Gamer.org provides news about the latest games and delivers clear reviews and there are also others with additional insights and features. On another end, the industry’s success during the last decade can also be attributed to technological advancements that enhanced the overall gaming experience and made competitive play more accessible to a wider audience.
Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the esports industry managed to sustain its growth by adapting to the new normal. Many tournaments shifted from in-person events to fully online competitions, maintaining the excitement of the games while adhering to health and safety guidelines. This resilience in the face of adversity further solidifies the esports industry’s position as a rapidly growing segment of the digital entertainment landscape.
The growth of the esports industry during the last decade can be attributed to various revenue streams, including sponsorship deals, media rights, investments, advertisements, and sales of video game content. Sponsorships and media rights, in particular, have played a vital role in driving revenue growth. Leading global esports teams and publishers have forged lucrative partnerships with renowned brands to boost their incomes.
- Sponsorship: Investments from major corporations and companies
- Media rights: Sale of broadcast rights for esports tournaments
- Advertisements: Revenue generated from ads shown during live streams and events
- Game content sales: Sales of in-game cosmetic items and other digital goods
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the growth of the esports industry. With traditional sports events canceled or postponed, there was a surge in viewership for online gaming and esports tournaments. As a result, the global esports market witnessed an uptick in revenue.
In 2020, the esports market was estimated to be worth 1.08 billion USD, and the revenue growth has continued to increase in subsequent years1. The pandemic has accelerated the demand for digital entertainment, pushing more brands and investors to sponsor esports events and related content.
Esports viewership has followed similar growth patterns as its revenue, with a significant increase in the number of people watching competitive gaming events online. In 2017, the total esports viewership was around 335 million, which is expected to reach 646 million by 20232. The number of monthly gamers is also predicted to rise from 167 million to 276 million between 2018 and 20223.
It is also notable that esports has become more diverse, with 30% of viewers and 35% of players being women4. As more people become interested in esports, the industry’s value and market growth will continue to benefit from a sustained global audience.
Esports has grown exponentially over the past decade, with several prominent games and tournaments dominating the industry. Among the most significant are names like ‘League of Legends‘ (LoL), ‘Dota 2‘, ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive‘ (CS), ‘Overwatch‘, ‘Call of Duty‘, ‘Fortnite‘, and ‘Valorant‘. These games have contributed to the production of high-stakes tournaments with massive prize pools, like ‘The International‘ for Dota 2 and ‘Overwatch League‘ for Overwatch. Other major events include ‘ESL‘ and ‘Riot Games‘ championships, which attract millions of viewers and participants globally.
The esports competitive landscape features numerous teams and players who have gained significant popularity. High-profile teams, such as Team Liquid, Fnatic, and Cloud9, among others, have gained prominence by competing across multiple titles. They attract support from a wide range of investors, including celebrities, athletes, and venture capitalists. Esports player earnings have also risen significantly, with top players in some games earning millions in prize money.
In the past decade, the esports industry has attracted significant investments from venture capitalists, celebrities, non-endemic brands, and even traditional sports franchises. This influx of capital has elevated the value of esports organizations and led to increased sponsorship and partnership opportunities.
Streamers and live-streaming platforms have played a crucial role in esports’ growth. As platforms like Twitch and YouTube gained popularity, esports viewership grew, bringing in higher competition and professionalization. Both platforms have invested in acquiring the media rights to major esports events, becoming hubs for esports content.
The streaming landscape has also seen the rise of dedicated esports broadcasters, who provide live coverage, commentary, insight, and analysis for esports games and tournaments. These broadcasters collaborate with esports leagues, teams, and event organizers to bring a comprehensive viewing experience to the ever-growing audience. Simultaneously, non-gaming streaming platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have also started hosting esports content.