Not long ago, many industry outsiders were striking down the rise of eSports as little more than a fad and not worthy of investment. From the outside looking in, the somewhat fair assumption was that a passion for watching other people play video games wouldn’t last, but of course, the scene has only become more extensive over the last few years. The worldwide esports market size of the competitive gaming business increased to $0.97 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach $1.28 billion in 2021.
Projections across the board only foretell further growth at a similar rate. This isn’t just because more people are using gaming broadcasts as a form of entertainment, as there are several other factors now contributing to the eSports ecosystem. New or pivoted businesses that don’t deal directly in the creation or distribution of games are fuelling the growth, with new third-party options and further development into smaller segments that make up the eSports industry.
As the world of eSports continues to expand, you can bet that the industry won’t be going away any time soon.
The pillars of eSports and those joining the fray
There are three key pillars to the eSports industry in regards to the games being played, watched, and written about: Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. While the likes of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch, and Rocket League are also major players, it’s those three that are the endearing centerpieces of the eSports industry.
Of course, the industry is still relatively young, with games that can become popular and put on a big show having a chance to come close to the likes of Dota 2, LoL, and CS:GO in terms of viewership and prize pools. Right now, we’re seeing one such game continues to make strides towards this upper tier, Valorant. From the creators of LoL, the first-person shooter with a sci-fi twist has received tremendous backing since its launch in late October, with over 220 tournaments and $5 million in prizes given out before the end of 2021.
While many non-eSports titles accrue large viewing audiences, Twitch statistics can be quite telling to the power of a competitive game. Through November 2021, LoL boasted an average viewership at any given time of over 148,000, with CS:GO (120,000), Apex Legends (81,951), and Valorant (81,799) in tow. It’s because of this that many see Halo Infinite (53,000) as one of the top up-and-coming eSports titles. Offered as a multiplayer beta prior to its full launch, it’s clear that Halo Infinite is going to make a competitive gaming push.
As the number of games and subsequent streams and competitions increases, the eSports scene will naturally grow. This brings in more revenue opportunities, more opportunities for talented players, and makes the whole industry potentially more appealing to the next would-be consumer. This gradual expansion has made the openings for more businesses that aren’t strictly eSports-orientated.
Growing eSports beyond the games themselves
Silicon Valley has become the global centre for high technology and innovation, and it’s here that we’ve seen more and more companies and businesses pivot or emerge as supplementary pieces to the eSports industry. Now, in Silicon Valley and around California at large are several tech businesses aiming to bolster eSports further. There’s 100 Thieves and its professional team networking and management service, the student-oriented PlayVS platform, and Mobalytics, which is a personal gaming assistant geared towards competitive gamers.
Naturally, not all of the companies now tied to eSports or trying to actively work in the industry are based in California. Around the world, the most respected best sports betting sites have embraced eSports as fair competition and viable for betting. The top recommended bookmakers, such as MansionBet, now proudly showcase the availability of their eSports betting. By having these eSports betting markets alongside traditional sports betting odds, a sense of validation is given, as is another way for eSports fans to engage with the competitions.
There are several other innovative new businesses setting up to further expand the scene as well. At the end of November 2021, Indian startup Qlan launched its specialised social network for gamers. The aim of the platform is to help talented gamers take their first steps to become a professional, with the help of others already established in the industry.
As eSports continues to grow around new and exciting games, more and more third parties will be looking to get involved and grow the scene even further in 2022.