Today, many investors see casino sign up bonus esports as a growing industry. eSports is becoming an integral element of sports and entertainment sectors with an esports ecosystem that includes online casino game publishers and developers, franchises and teams, investors, bookmakers, tournament and events organizers plus, of course, the players and their fans.
Current numbers and projections indicate that esports is a strong, emerging industry which may one day rival other entertainment and sports segments. The appeal is global as demonstrated by its inclusion in the Southeast Asia Games 2019. It is currently being touted to be featured as a main sport in the 2022 games.
Industry analysts project that the global esports audience will be approximately 500 million viewers by the end of 2020. By 2023 projections are that the esports audience will reach upwards of 650 million.
The growth is of vital importance for bookmakers who have begun to accept bets on esporting events – according to iGaming Business, gross win from esports betting this year will grow by 39% over the same period in 2019 which will put it at $343 million. Projections are that by 2024 the market will generate $862 million in revenue.
The role that COVID-19 may play on the industry is still unclear. As with traditional sporting events, many live esports conventions and tournaments were cancelled this year. But as the industry moves online, its continued expansion is almost certain.
What are the implications of that growth?
Most esports revenues come from sponsorships. Other revenue sources include advertising, media rights game publisher fees and ticket and merchandise sales. Analysts estimate that by 2023, revenues will hit nearly $1.6 billion.
eSports has evolved into much more than “gaming” playing video games. Today it is increasingly recognized as a full-fledged sport with star athletes, teams and sponsors.
In the ecosystem, players are supported by talent agents communication tools, streaming tools, and training and coaching tools. The players then represent franchises and teams by playing video games which are organized in tournaments and leagues. Those tournaments and leagues are distributed via broadcast media (news sites, analytics, streaming platforms and broadcasting tools).
At the top of the ecosystem are the investors and the brands. They organize the operators and all of the rest of the elements featured in the ecosystem. The games filter down to the fans via videos, merchandising and publisher materials who support the system through subscriptions, purchases of skins and tickets, donations, betting and buying merchandise.
Some of the major players in the esports ecosystem include:
Investors are looking at the projections and growth numbers and see a strong emerging industry. eSports is now deemed as being ready to become a full partner in the sporting world akin to football, baseball and other major league sports.
Governments such as the government of Denmark are pushing to establish their countries as esports centers and celebrities including Bronny James, son of LeBron, have perked interest by joining gaming groups. The United States military has even gotten in on the wave with Army, Navy and Air Force esports teams that they are fielding as competitive teams that draw the interest of potential recruits.
The majority of professional esports teams started as amateur teams and then evolved from there. If a team is sufficiently competitive, has a good business model, and is able to market itself well, generate revenue by attracting investors, sponsorships and partnerships. If the team is good enough to win it can support itself through licensing and tournament prizes.
Investors are increasingly supporting esports teams with capital and training infrastructures. Their involvement in a team allows the team to attract premium players.
Publishers and developers of video games own the games’ intellectual property which allow them to control competitions, provide part or all of the prize money and master games’ variables.. In 2019 the combined amount of cash prizes reached an estimated $373 million.
Tournaments and events are organized by companies. Some organize live (LAN) tournaments and, increasingly, others are organizing online tournaments.
Sponsors can promote their wares by providing goods or services to the team or players.
Bookmakers are becoming a more common part of the esports ecosystem as more and more sportsbooks add esports to their list of betting options.
As with any sport, the growth of esports faces risks. The sector is less exposed to pandemic risks than other types of sports because so much of esports takes place online. Yet the niche must ensure that, as it evolves, it doesn’t minimize or ignore risks.
One example of such a risk factor involves health and safety concerns. Stakes are high at many tournaments and esports athletes are susceptible to health issues as they train massive numbers of hours to prepare. Some of these health risks that come with competitive gaming include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, muscular disorders, vision impairment (blue light syndrome) and neck and lower back pain and burnout.
Some athletes get so caught up in their gaming practice that they don’t get enough sleep and suffer resulting health issues. The industry must ensure that there are health and safety programs available to the gamers that address such issues.
A more recently-publicized concern involves harassment of women players. Many women say that they endure online sexual harassment as women players. Some women have been threatened. The industry must take that type of harassment seriously and work to eradicate it.
eSports stakeholders need to keep brand and reputation in mind as they help players and teams develop. Best-practice standards need to be developed that protect investments including exposure to geopolitical risks. Situations have developed when tensions between two countries cause one country to ban another country’s software including esports games that originated in that country. Organizers need to be aware of such incidents and find work-arounds.
The growth of esports brings with it many challenges. It’s a new industry and, while it’s not possible to foresee all potential hurdles, it is possible to prepare by planning ahead. COVID-19 has served to increase interest in esports but if the esports infrastructure is to maximize the potential, it must manage risk by adopting a strategic approach to a variety of scenarios.