Playing the Game
After years of operating just under the radar, eSports are poised for their breakout moment. Over the past decade, gamers have become increasingly engaged and online consumption has expanded the lifespan of video game IPs.
These games are now being designed to be watched as well as played, which is a major paradigm shift for the industry. “eSports are at a tipping point,” says Mike Sepso, senior vice president, Activision Blizzard’s eSport division. “It looks like a sport, it’s in arenas, fans are cheering and there are loyalties to brands, teams, games and leagues.
The audience is bigger than traditional sports leagues, and there’s a lot of capital flowing in.” NewZoo, a provider of market intelligence on global games, forecasts that total eSports revenue (media rights, merchandise and tickets sold at the events, online advertising and brand sponsorships) will surge 41 percent to $696 million in 2017, up from $463 million last year, and is projected to grow to $1.1 billion by 2019.
The total audience (online and in arenas) is projected to grow to 385 million this year, up from 292 million in 2016, and is on track to swell to 427 million by 2019.