Esports is a burgeoning worldwide industry in which experienced video gamers compete. Unlike traditional sports, esports is not just a fad taking place in the basements of idle twentysomethings; the business is real, expanding internationally, and investable. In reality, over 380 million people globally follow esports both online and in person. The esports sector, with its fragmented environment and digital platform, shows potential for a plethora of revenue options.
Esports, which stands for “electronic sports,” becomes more and more popular among people and spectacular. The experience is comparable to that of witnessing a professional athletic event, only instead of a physical event, viewers watch video gamers compete against one another in a virtual setting.
If it’s difficult to understand why someone would want to watch someone else play a video game, consider how entertaining it is to watch LeBron James or Steph Curry play basketball. Fans of elite videogamers love watching top sportsmen compete in the same way that conventional sports fans like watching top athletes perform at the pinnacle of their trade.
This business comprises not just conventional sports-related games like NBA2K and FIFA, but also, and maybe more importantly, games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and Dota. Individual gamers, as we’ll see later, may either broadcast themselves playing to make money, as there are many people who are betting on online games, or join larger groups to compete for significant financial rewards. Players can interact with their followers through social media, live-streaming platforms, and in-person during events. Fans, on the other hand, may watch and follow their favorite teams participate in regional and international competitions. As the ecosystem expands, it is surrounded by a plethora of technological platforms, services, events, analytics platforms, and considerable investor cash.
Big leagues – new opportunities
The playing ground for eSports continues to expand, providing possibilities and wake-up calls to media and entertainment firms trying to flourish in this new digital world. The franchise concept, like conventional sports leagues, allows investors to purchase club slots with territorial rights for as much as $20 million.
The franchise model represents a significant move into the mainstream, as well as a determined push by the eSports ecosystem to establish itself as a full-fledged enterprise. League franchises may bring with them a fair expectation of permanence, more evenly dispersed risk, and larger and broader revenue prospects. With large franchise investments, game publishers have a greater motivation to keep old titles alive and well – imagine the economic ramifications if the National Basketball Association decided to cease sponsoring professional basketball.
Franchise leagues may also help governance organizations that are in charge of enforcing behavioral norms, lobbying for safeguards, guaranteeing integrity, and combating fraud. Cybersecurity will very certainly need to be prioritized much more in order to safeguard teams and players, secure data and analytics, and avoid vulnerabilities and incursion. To protect the fairness and integrity of matches, authorities should consider actively weeding out cheating, doping, and hacking. As the economics and the incentives for criminal behavior grow in tandem with the complexity of the ecosystem, so will the attack surfaces and the motivations for criminal action. Similarly, firms involved in eSports are expected to confront tax and risk problems as the industry expands regionally and demographically.
From purchasing and sponsoring teams to acquire broadcast rights, advertising channels, and M&A, astute businesses can capitalize on lucrative investment opportunities while the market is still expanding. Tencent, a Chinese corporation, has emerged as a significant player in the game, utilizing its chat and payment systems to generate interaction around its video games portfolio. Tencent revealed a $15 billion investment plan in the Chinese eSports sector in 2017.
Future of eSports
In many respects, the rise of eSports is a logical progression. As online access reduces physical distinctions between people in an increasing variety of situations, the wonderful and aspirational world of eSports enables anybody to become a player, a broadcaster, a benefactor, or even a champion. Sport’s definition is becoming broader as it evolves.
Embracing the benefits and difficulties of eSports may help leaders’ firms develop with the audience and alter to meet the changes brought about by digital disruption. Shareholders and managers can see how contemporary narration contains a video game industry that competes with Hollywood, how audiences are drawn to more entertaining and interacting narrative communication, how physical sport has a viable digital complement, and how today’s audiences are broadcasters and fans are players. Each of these may be accessed through the eSports industry.
However, before entering the eSports sector as a sponsor, investor, service provider, security consultant, or in any other capacity, organizations need to grasp the intricacies. To introduce a sponsored message into these communities, a firm must first identify its target demographic and demonstrate a genuine interest in the games. Businesses may collaborate with prominent streamers and streaming networks, as well as teams, players, and leagues. Data analytics may make its way into the gaming sector from the outskirts of advertising. And, although analytics enables service and product innovation, corporations must be wary of the danger that such advances could inadvertently infringe on gamers’ land.
Success may pay rewards if and when it goes viral, with audiences expanding over social networks, streaming platforms, and gaming worlds. These consumers, however, are frequently media-savvy; they respond to perceived authenticity, and they want companies to provide something of value. Entering the realm of eSports necessitates a light touch and quick reaction marketing. In late 2017, a major carmaker sponsored an eSports event, parked vehicles in front of the venue, and spraying its branding on the stage and screen. Fans snapped and “meme-ified” the images, ridiculing the brand and shared them on social media. The automaker soon replied by creating memes that lightheartedly ridiculed both itself and the fans.
Although the eSports population is wary of advertising, there is a strong desire for products and content. As downloadable material through the gaming platform, several teams offer branded “skins” – alternate visual appearances, such as virtual team jerseys, that individual players may give their onscreen avatars. Merchandise, like conventional sports, can be tangible or digital, basic or distinctive, and used to promote the team and its personality. Gaming platforms serve as shops for co-branded content, digital accessories, and so on. Another evidence of eSports’ rising popular legitimacy: prominent cable TV networks are creating material centered on the numerous human-interest tales unfolding behind the screens, following teams as they compete for the title. As in any major competitive arena, there is usually no shortage of personal drama to keep the spectators engaged.
There are also many viewers that are interested in viewing and watching eSports live at the stadiums. Builders are breaking ground on new eSports stadiums, training facilities, and team housing quarters. Super League Gaming, which repurposes underutilized movie theaters as eSports stadiums, has garnered more than $28 million in funding from investors, prompting some to envisage an eSports future for failing retail malls.
Media and entertainment businesses should pay special attention to technologies that allow viewers to interact with and produce material more freely, as well as move around worlds autonomously. Broadcasting, whether AI or human, is becoming increasingly social, decentralized, and participatory.
As more businesses seek possibilities in eSports, broadcasters and event producers may provide subscription services for real and virtual events, game broadcasts, and team access. Ticketing may investigate VIP, hospitality, and experience innovation for eSports events in the same way that promoters do for concerts. Some are looking at blockchain to track a ticket holder’s complete customer experience, as well as a league- or venue-based tokens that can be distributed to fans and redeemed for real and digital products. Others are looking to blockchain technologies to immutably monitor wagers and run smart contracts to reconcile bets when gaming regulations change.