When we think about sports, the likes of football, basketball, tennis and other major sporting activities which combine the element of physicality and competitiveness may spring to mind. But no longer does physical prowess mean the key to success in the world of sport. eSports have changed what it means to be a sport and worldwide, they are fast becoming more popular than conventional sports.
So, what exactly are eSports, and why are they the most popular form of competitive sport right now? To put it simply, eSports stands for ‘Electronic Sports’, and what constitutes an eSport may be any video game that can be played at the highest competitive level.
It may sound odd, but normal gamers from across the globe can play competitively, and become a professional eSports athlete, signing major contracts worth huge sums of money in the process. Simultaneously, it allows for them to turn their hobby of playing video games for fun in their rooms at home, into a full-time job competing in massive arenas filled with thousands of spectators.
“In terms of the global viewership for eSports, Newzoo predicts that the figure will reach up to 380 million unique viewers this year, made up of 165 million eSports enthusiasts and 215 million occasional viewers. When compared to the biggest sporting event in North America, an estimated 103.4 million viewers watched the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in February earlier this year – that’s over triple the amount of viewers.”
Defining an eSport may be sought in the interactions of the virtual grounds that are contained within the game. Modern day logistics taught video game developers and companies to create games in such a way that nobody could ever master; an unconventional form of a video gaming experience that would influence the player to stay for years as oppose to complete the game and move on to the next.
They did this by creating a flexible virtual world that could easily adjust to the changes in the community that surrounded it. Hence games that fall under the eSports category are regularly updated to maintain the difficulty of the game, and to keep the game fun for those playing.
To understand just how giant this sporting revolution already is, statistics for eSports may be broken down in figures – and the numbers are incredible. According to data obtained from Newzoo, the eSports market revenue worldwide in 2012 was approximated at $130m (£92.3m). In comparison, these numbers quintupled last year to $655m (£465m) and by the end of 2018, the numbers are expected to exceed $900m (£639m).
So where exactly is all of this money coming from? Approximately 77% of this figure will be generated directly from sponsorships and advertising and indirectly from media rights and content licenses through investments made by endemic and non-endemic brands that will spend a total of $694m (£493m).
This can be broken down into $174m on advertising, $359m on sponsorship, and a further $161m on media rights and content licenses (chart 1)
In terms of the global viewership for eSports, Newzoo predicts that the figure will reach up to 380 million unique viewers this year, made up of 165 million eSports enthusiasts and 215 million occasional viewers. When compared to the biggest sporting event in North America, an estimated 103.4 million viewers watched the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in February earlier this year – that’s over triple the amount of viewers.
The fact that eSports is a global phenomenon right now means the industry will only continue to grow exponentially. The newest generation of video games brought a whole new dynamic to the way millennials played the game, and this was popularised further with the launch of live streaming platform Twitch in 2011.
Twitch enabled users to share their own gaming experience to the world; a live-feed service that delivered unique gameplay, complemented with commentary from the respective player and a live chat room in which onlookers could engage directly with the individual streaming. An already then massive community of gamers would unite as they now had a hub for where they could follow their favourite games, watch their favourite streamers and interact with like-minded players to discuss and appreciate the art of gaming.
More importantly, tournaments now had a reliable, efficient and high definition distribution network, while teams and players had an opportunity to showcase their talents to fans and build a brand. Amazon recognised the potential and bought the now fully established video game streaming company for a sum of $970m (£689m) in 2014.
(Credit: Riot Games – League of Legends World Championship 2017)
With games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Dota 2, Overwatch, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Hearthstone and others leading the way, the eSports industry will no doubt exceed its own expectations as it pioneers the modern day form of competitive sport.
Below is a picture and a video shot by myself uploaded onto Google Drive