It will not have escaped your attention that esports is enjoying something of a mainstream moment right now. Global leagues are producing bona fide stars and fans log in to watch streamed events showcasing the very best in the industry.
But anyone involved in esports should be thinking about the future. Everything comes in waves and there is the possibility that esports will not be quite as popular in the near future. Or there may be more spikes with factors like the introduction of California sports betting apps. It is true to say that esports has been incredibly popular in the last few years – but what happens next?
The Pandemic Explosion
There were plenty of gamers playing a variety of esports before 2020. There were even more fans watching streamed events and dreaming of one day competing in world championships. But, for the wider world, the outbreak of the COVID pandemic was when esports got big.
With live sport virtually canceled worldwide, esports suddenly became the only game in town and sports fans desperate for their fix turned to online. The upturn has largely continued ever since – although at a slower rate. But there are some challenges that need to be faced in the coming years for esports to remain popular.
One of the very obvious elements of esports these days is that the sponsorship amounts have gone through the roof. The top events and leagues are all sponsored by huge brands and that is where the majority of the money is. If those sponsors suddenly became interested in something else, there could be a problem.
The problem is that some of the big brands that have become associated with esports in the last few years of boom are now beginning to question their investment. The returns and futuristic vision have not paid the expected dividends. That could result in less money involved – even at the very top.
This aspect of the esports revolution dovetails nicely with sponsorship. It is very rare that gambling firms allow an opportunity to make more money to pass them by. They certainly didn’t with esports – and the landscape is full of betting companies and sportsbooks pumping money into events to promote their own businesses.
Just like sports fans turned to esports when there were no sports to watch, gamblers also became curious about these new betting opportunities. Thanks to the huge amounts of money bet on esports events, this is one area of the industry that will probably not suffer. Although that may not be what some gamers would like to hear.
There has been a lot of comparison between esports and traditional sports. But one of the major differences between the two is that traditional sports tend to make most of their money from broadcasting deals. That is not the case with esports as most fans expect to be able to access free live streaming.
Alongside trying to figure out new revenue streams, there are also the rising costs involved in producing the titles. A higher profile has brought in higher paid workers – and the income has not similarly increased. There needs to be more correlation between costs and money in the industry.
The popularity of esports skyrocketed a few years ago and is only beginning to plateau a little now. Some – even within the industry – would say that a little caution is probably a good idea. It will give everyone involved time to figure out where esports goes next.
Esports will get even more popular though. What it needs to figure out is how to spend the money more wisely. That way the sponsorship will remain and more people will make money from the industry. People have grown up with esports now, so it is definitely here to stay. It will be interesting to see just how it adapts in the next few years.