One non-negative outcome of the coronavirus pandemic is that the Vegas casino online sports world has begun to embrace online casino esports. College sports programs now run esports teams, broadcasters feature esports data on their broadcasts and even the Olympics will be featuring esports competitions in the next Olympic Games.
For traditionalists, this may be a complicated but if you think about it, what is sports? Just a set of rules, a competitive infrastructure, a field of play, teams, leagues and players, broadcasters and viewers. That description encompasses esports as well as games like football, baseball, basketball or even curling and chess.
Games like League of Legends, CSGO, Fortnite, and Call of Duty showcase mental acuity instead of physical mastery. Virtual arenas replace ballparks and stadiums and, when you boil it down, everything else is the same including the betting options and the excitement and thrill of waiting to see which team will clinch the title.
The recognition that esports is accruing translates into increased attention among sports broadcasters, sportsbooks and others. The League of Legends World Championships, held in Shanghai this past September-October, had the same number of viewers as did the 2020 Superbowl. Among young (18 to 25 year old) viewers, 34% more esports are being watched than traditional sports. Observers note that as a digital native, esports are everywhere – you can watch it live or play games back on Twitch or YouTube, place bets on sportsbooks, discuss games on chat platforms and pull out especially interesting clips to share on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.
All this has fueled the growth of an industry which was once projected to grow 400% over the next seven years. Now, analysts are saying that that estimate is conservative. In 2019 esports was worth approximately $1 billion and last year they estimated that it would be valued at $4.28 billion by 2027. The pandemic fueled its growth to $388.3 billion in 2020 and by 2027 if it continues even at the present rate of growth, its total value will be many times multiplied the original estimate.
eSports was considered part of the underground culture until just a few years ago. Today, it’s a mainstream industry which instracts investors such as Ashton Kutcher, Alexis Ohanian and Mark Cuban. It’s a worldwide phenomenon which pulls in capital from cultural icons like Steve Aoki, Wiz Khalifa and Draks and traditional sports figures including Rick Fox, Shaquille, Steph Curry and David Beckham. As the infrastructure, teams and athletes continue to develop, observers note that the potential is endless.
eSports features prize pools that rival anything that traditional sports has to offer. The Dota 2 International’s 1st place carries with it a $34.3 million prize and Fortnite’s World Cup delvers $30.4 million to the first place team. From video game tournaments in shopping malls to esports competitions that compare to the U.S. Open and the World Series, it’s clear that esports is finally coming into its own.
eSports’ growth has exploded with the pandemic. In the stay-at-home world of COVID-19, mega esports events are now being viewed by hundreds of millions of viewers. The potential for revenue grows even more thanks to Gaming Video Content (GVC) in which services like YouTube and Twitch stream content. There are other types of interaction as well including social media interactive engagements and sportsbooks such as BetMGM and FanDuel that take esports wagers.
One of the reasons that GVC has played such an important part in promoting the popularity of esports is that it can be produced by anyone. eSports fans aren’t just content consumers but they can be content creators as well. They may not create content now but they have the potential to do so and that’s exciting.
In traditional sports, only a small percentage of fans actually play the game but esports enthusiasts can easily watch a game and then give it a go themselves. That makes the gap between players and their viewers very small. Both pros and amateurs play the same games on similar equipment and the fans can replicate what they see the esports competitors doing. The main difference is the infrastructure – professional esports involve pro athletes and teams, big tournaments and major events. The fans just enjoy themselves as they fantasize about the big stage.
Industry insiders say that there’s a huge opportunity in this scenario. There’s a global community watching competitive games 24/7 with entertainment that includes luck, skill, triumphs and follies. That can easily translate to billions of hours of high-value, hyper-social GVC. It’s time to leverage that potential and give fans and novice esports professionals the means to share their own gaming content. Streamers have already learned how to optimize the social media Twitch, YouTube and Facebook Gaming platforms to monetize the entertainment that they provide. Now it’s time for the esports players to get in on the act.
There’s a massive market waiting to get in on opportunities that will be unlocked by those who figure out how to successfully mainstream gaming content. Competitive gamers should start considering how to morph into new content creators in order to play and create esports content.