The eSports Economy: Overview
With the advent of personal computers, it was inevitable that people and communities would come together to meet an obvious entertainment market demand. Videogames were produced for widespread consumption on the computer, ranging from the arcade styled games to newer story driven titles like Legend of Zelda in the 1980s. As the market continued to develop and newer and better game engines saw industry defining games dropping left and right. The famous Half-Life series was touted as one of the best series of all time and thrust Valve studios into the limelight. As the world of gaming continued to improve, it was almost inevitable that sub communities would push for more competitive environments. Quake, a competitive first person shooter, became wildly popular among the gaming community in the 90s. This was just the start of an era of gaming, the advent of eSports.
Today’s eSport climate is a far cry from the early days of the industry. Hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue are pouring in annually, with viewership numbers continuing to climb. The appeal of eSports in pretty obvious: it reaches a unique demographic not necessarily interested in traditional sports for a competitive climate. One of the largest advantages that eSports has is that the game never lies. When an umpire could make a controversial call, or a referee could miss a dirty play, the physics of a game engine are nearly flawless in terms of consistency. While eSports is intrinsically linked to the video game market, this appears to be a benefit as the gaming industry is highly competitive and faces no threat unlike many other entertainment media.
One of the biggest draws of the eSports industry is the viewership. Not only is it growing at an unmatched rate, but the viewers generally fit into a simple niche. When advertising on traditional TV, firms must consider a great deal of market research and invest significantly in confirming numbers and timing. With eSports, any professional event that’s being streamed is a good bet for computer parts advertisement, as many of these gamers build their own PCs or are constantly looking to upgrade. The ease of this marketing is a big draw for revenue into the stream, accompanied by an advertising conducive platform like Twitch.tv. The cards seem to be in the right place for eSports, as reflected by the almost unprecedented growth.
Essentially, it’s a good time to be involved in eSports. Practically every firm is winning big just by participating; tournament organizers, game developers, streaming platforms, sponsorship agencies, advertisers, and players are all seeing huge increases in incoming revenue. While the barrier to entry may be high for some, it is simply a matter of a world changing economy emerging and growing.
Michael O’Malley is a Business Administration/Theatre Double major sophomore at USC. He enjoys long walks on the beach, screaming into the abyss, and dancing with friends. He grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and does know how to read.