Esports has become an emerging and fast-growing landscape. However, industry trends provide clues about the scene’s direction in the coming five years.
The year 1972 was when Stanford University played host to what’s now believed as the first Esports competition. Based on Spacewar!, the contest awarded a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine – and beer for free.
Since then, the esports industry has grown from beer to billions. Today the global esports market is valued at around $1bn, and the top tournaments are rewarded with multi-millions of dollars, not magazines. But keep in mind, we are talking about video games, not about casino online games.
Even five years ago, nobody would have thought that this year’s League of Legends World Championship would have the exact viewership statistics as the Super Bowl. What would esports look like five years from now?
The global esports business is expected to grow fast over five years. Analyst Newzoo projects that revenues from esports will be around $1.6bn in 2023 while maintaining the 15% growth rate.
AS PER AN ESPORTS STUDY COMMISSIONED BY UKIE, the UK is home to a 10% portion of this growing global market and is enjoying growing recognition of esports as an integral part of the country’s rapidly growing digital and creative industries.
As is expected, growth in the future will come from sponsorship revenues, Newzoo forecasts.
The world’s top brands, including BMW (now a major sponsor of the London-based Fnatic), IBM, Levi’s, and Marvel Entertainment, all entered the sports industry in 2020 and are expected to continue to grow in the years ahead as the industry expands in both size and credibility.
Newer trends in monetization are expected to grow. Digital goods such as in-game esports team skins and esports organization-affiliated content creators are expected to play more significant roles as revenue streams in the industry.
Esports fans also show signs of expansion. In the world, esports enjoyed an impressive 495m audience in 2020, as per Newzoo. In 2023, the number of viewers is projected to exceed 646m with a 10.4 percent annual growth rate, leading to more incredible growth over the following years.
1.2m Brits watch esports in the UK According to Kantar. However, with 2 billion people in the world who are aware of esports, China and emerging markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East will be at the forefront of the game’s continuous growth in awareness.
The past few years have seen an increase in initiatives and organizations that encourage gender equality in esports. These include British-based Women in Games, Women of Esports, British Esports’ Women in Esports initiative, FemaleLegends, and recent events like For the Women (FTW) and many more. With the growth of audiences, the trend is toward greater diversity.
The agency for consumer insights Interprets discovered that females represented 35% of all Esports players in 2019. This figure has been trending upward for the past two years.
With a 6% rise in female gamers’ viewing in 2016 and a variety of brand-new tournaments, events, and advocacy organizations pledging to increase the number of esports players regardless of gender, background, or other facets, the sport has the potential to become better, more diverse future.
The next five years could change how and in what form Esports are played.
Mobile has been recently hailed as a potential new pillar of the esports market and is rapidly contributing to growth in the industry. With smartphones lowering barriers to entry and aided by the rising popularity of free-to-play competitive games like PUBG Mobile in the emerging markets, mobile esports is growing into a cult phenomenon shortly.
Also, we could get some critical new games in the esports world. Just four months ago, Fortnite and Valorant were not even in existence. In 2019 alone, Epic Games pumped $100m into the fledgling Fortnite Esports scene, which is around $1 million; out of that UK teenager Jaden “Wolfiez,” Ashman was awarded as a player’s currently signed with Excel Esports.
In 2020, we saw Valorant debut into a market that has been with a dominant esports brand like CounterStrike (on the FPS front at least). Based on these games’ popularity, new games could become the most talked-about in 2026.
Esports will go yet be determined as the dust settles from an afflicting pandemic. The sport appears to have performed very well despite a disease which has confined us to our screens. A bright future is in the works, with promising trends planned over the next five years.