|Electronic sports, or eSports, recently made its debut in competitive sports at the 30th SEA Games and rumor has it that it will also be included in the 2024 Olympic Games / Photo by: Jess M. Escaros Jr via Wikimedia Commons|
Electronic sports, or eSports, recently made its debut in competitive sports at the 30th SEA Games and rumor has it that it will also be included in the 2024 Olympic Games. Revenue for the industry is also looking to explode with billions of dollars annually by next year. These are mere glimpses of the potential of video games to change the sporting landscape.
It may be too early or too bold to say, but many experts believe that esports will be the future of all sports is eSports. They say there is a growing body of evidence to support this claim as well, from the advancing technology to their growing fanbase and revenue.
The "real" sports world is admittedly still bigger than the eSports community, but the online gaming community is a new way to enjoy it. Most fans today want to experience interactivity within the sports they love and the latest transformation in technology is bringing that into people's leisure time.
New virtual reality (VR) gaming experiences could be the technology that will unite sports and eSports as they continue to find their common ground, academic adviser Andy Miah writes on The Conversation. The Conversation is an Australia-based not-for-profit media outlet that uses content sourced from academics and researchers.
According to Miah, it will take a while before the world realizes the full impact of eSports, but the combination of emerging mobile and virtual reality gaming "makes a tantalizing prospect on which to imagine its future."
"Consider HADO, a new, two versus two, sports arena-based game consisting of virtual reality battles," the academic adviser says. "One of the reasons that HADO is so important is that it brings a three-dimensional experience to an esports arena, where otherwise they are played out on flat screens for spectators to watch."
VR headsets becoming more affordable is also jump-starting a new fitness revolution, Miah notes, adding that the convergence of high-end gaming technology and physical fitness could be "the most compelling way to bring these two worlds together."
|The "real" sports world is admittedly still bigger than the eSports community, but the online gaming community is a new way to enjoy it / Photo by: Roman Kosolapov via Shutterstock|
Growth in Revenue and Fanbase
A notable thing about eSports is that a single tournament can attract millions of live viewers worldwide. For instance, the 2016 League of Legends World Championship finals alone gathered 43 million viewers.
Streaming is a critical element in eSports. Fans often watch streams on YouTube or Twitch and they spend an estimated 17.9 million hours watching their favorite players on those channels, the World Economic Forum (WEF) reports. The WEF is a Geneva-based international organization that discusses issues concerning the global political economy.
In 2018, the global audience for eSports reached 380 million—165 million dedicated fans and 215 million viewers—with "Dota 2," "League of Legends," and "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" being the most popular games to watch.
Winnings are also at high stakes as participants having the chance to take home up to $25 million in prize money, sponsorship, and appearances. The WEF says the prize pool for eSports of $24.7 million exceeds that of the NBA ($13 million), the Golf Masters ($11 million), and the Confederations Cup ($20 million).
It adds that the total revenue for eSports is expected to make $1.4 billion by 2020—a pretty impressive projection for an industry that naysayers deemed as not a "real sport."
The Deciding Factor
Detractors won't be the deciding factor for the success of eSports. Instead, it's the level of recognition it will gather across the globe—and that recognition is slowly being realized as well. Aside from the SEA Games, the industry will also be an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in China.
The Asian Games is the second-largest multi-sport event after the Olympics and being an official category in it is the eSports' biggest boost yet. Lifestyle online magazine Esquire Middle East adds another breakthrough: the International Olympics Committee and eSports representatives are confirmed to be in talks to see if eSports can be an official medal sport at the 2024 Olympics.
Esquire says the industry may soon be valued the same way other sports are and with the Olympic offer, "the prospect of government-funded eSports players becomes all the more real"—this even as cynics continue to look down on eSports.
As gaming tournaments continue to fill up arenas with thousands of spectators, gather millions of viewers, and generate millions of dollars worth of revenue, the industry is set for a bright future.
Players are no longer seen as immature people, but now as hot properties that need to be signed in a professional team on contracts offering annual salaries, performance-based bonuses, travel expenses, and even health insurance.
But before eSports becomes the future of all sports, it should be remembered that there is still a need for a technological revolution—be it to unite traditional sports with the industry or not—and eSports is still in the process of finding steady ground.
|International Olympics Committee and eSports representatives are confirmed to be in talks to see if eSports can be an official medal sport at the 2024 Olympics / Photo by: Mariana Mast via Shutterstock|