The rise of esports took almost everybody by surprise. What was once only a small enterprise consisting of gamers and gaming enthusiasts is now a billion dollar industry and a very intriguing sport.
The History of eSports
While esports is a relatively new form of organized competition, first such events date all the way back to the 1980s. Atari’s Space Invaders championship in 1980 is considered the first esports tournament in the history of gaming. It involved 10,000 participants, and the prizes consisted of stand up arcade games, computers, and more.
The 1997 Quake tournament was one of the most popular ones ever held. It had 2,000 players, and the winner was awarded the main developer’s 1987 Ferrari 328 GTS.
The Constant Audience Growth
People love watching esports, and the stats collected in this infographic by NJ Games illustrate that statement! As a matter of fact, eSports competitions had around 335 million viewers in 2017, almost three times as much compared to 2012. Some predict that the number of viewers will rise to over half a billion in the next three years.
Even people who don’t play so many games love watching competitive gaming tournaments. Recent studies show that around 40% of viewers don’t even play the games they watch. This is a sign that competitive gaming is becoming a spectators sport, much like a lot of other, traditional sports.
eSports Global Revenue
The total eSports global revenue in 2018 was $906 million, almost half as much as the year before. Around 40% of this money comes from sponsorships, while there’s also money in advertising, publisher fees, media rights, merchandise, and ticket sales.
The forecast for 2021 suggests that the global eSports revenue will reach around $1.38 billion.
Are eSports Going to be at the Olympics?
The organizers have been pushing for the inclusion of eSports at the Olympics for quite some time now. The IOC committee still hasn’t made a decision whether to include eSports as a demonstration sport at the 2024 Paris Games. The main reason that the IOC doesn’t want eSports at the Olympics is that there’s a lot of violence in some of the most popular games.
Nevertheless, there is some optimism that the sports community will entirely embrace competitive gaming. Namely, 2022 Asian games will have eSports as one of the medal events.
Wagering on eSports
Another sign that eSports are becoming recognized as a real sport is the way they have been treated in the gambling world. Modern sportsbooks often include wagering on the most popular tournaments, and stats show that over $5.5 billion was wagered on eSports during 2016.
To see the reason behind the growth of eSports, take a look at the infographic below which contains more details.