eSports viewership and awareness have skyrocketed over the last few years. In 2021, some experts are predicting that viewership will topple over 470 million, making it one of the most-watched sports in the world and on track to potentially become the most-watched ever. But what really is eSports, and how are big companies betting on a flourishing future?
What is eSports?
eSports is a professional video game vertical bridging the gap between gaming and professional sport – and one of the latest gaming trends. Games are played (usually in teams as multiplayer events) inside eSports arenas like other sporting stadia with live fans watching the action unfold on a centre stage with big screens. It’s also being streamed live around the world through various mediums. This whole niche of professional gaming draws scores of comparisons with “real” professional sport, and some have even called for this activity to feature in future Olympic Games. Winners of these events and tournaments can scoop substantial cash prizes, and some gamers have even become millionaires in their teenage years.
The growth of investment
You know this area of professional gaming is heating up when some of the biggest global companies start investing in it. There have been many examples of big companies in related industries trying to grab a slice of the eSports pie early.
For example, Entain – a gambling group and owner of the prestigious brand PartyCasino – has recently purchased Unikrn for £50 million. Unikrn is a specialist eSports betting company and will allow Entain to scale its own gambling brands into this type of market. They’ve backed this up further by appointing a Head of Esports within the group, namely Justin Dellario. It is just one example of how a business can tap into the growing demand for the sport from a different industry.
eSports tournaments are centred around specific games, which will therefore attract different audiences in the same way that football and indoor bowls will attract other sports fans. You can attend these tournaments in person at a dedicated arena, some of which hold thousands of people and make for an unrivalled atmosphere. The biggest tournament tickets can cost $100 or more, while more amateur events at universities can be as little as $10. This is just one more way that eSports is becoming comparable to mainstream sports.
eSports creating new jobs
Research into eSports jobs uncovered that the number of vacancies in the first half of 2019 increased by a phenomenal 185% by the number of jobs available in the first half of the previous year. Vacancies were mostly found in the USA and China, with California claiming the highest percentage.
Many of these jobs are based in technology, broadcasting and analytics, rather than vacancies to become the next hotshot gamer. Although if you put the hours in and make it to the centre stage, the remuneration is exceptionally lucrative.