By Jason Parker
November 12, 2019
There’s a lot of money to be had in esports. But how bright is the future of competitive gaming? Conducted by Foley & Lardner LLP and The Esports Observer, more than 200 executives participated in the second annual Esports Survey that was dense but packed with exciting information.
Esports revenue is expected to climb over $1 billion this year and could reach $2.5 billion by 2025. That is an unreal amount of money. The 2019 Esports Survey sees investors moving in deeper and doubling down on this potential revenue fountain.
The people surveyed were mostly in the esports and traditional sports professions. Leagues, teams, media companies, agencies, and consultants. The idea is to see where this new era of entertainment is going.
There is so much money to be had in esports. You have ads regularly playing on Twitch, fans buying merchandise, and flying out to significant tournaments all over the world. Players with favorite fans support their streams and make in-game purchases to support them.
One of the amazing things I read in this survey is about advertising. Advertising and sponsorships could garner the most revenue in the next 12 months, ahead of in-game purchases and media rights.
With growth as always, comes problems. One of these is the nature of legality. The respondents of this Esports Survey are worried about intellectual property rights and licensing issues. Then there’s the point of player rights and contracts.
More than one organization has taken advantage of its players. One of the most significant sources of this comes from teams simply not playing their players. The legal problem concerns have grown since 2018, so this is something that needs addressing.
It’s not the only fear that needs addressing. According to the Esports Survey, 68% of respondents indicated that “cheating and match-fixing” are significant issues that can harm the legitimacy and growth of esports overall.
Of those, 47% pointed out a lack of fraud detection systems, like Xsolla. We’ve discussed cheating and match-fixing more than once. A good example is Condi suspended for match-fixing. If competitive gaming isn’t on the up-and-up, people will begin to lose interest. Nobody wants to see cheaters prosper.
There’s also the fear of how much control the developers themselves have over esports. Sure, the developer of a game should have some say-so. But developer control could hamper the growth of esports as a whole.
It’s fascinating that 88% of these people think that traditional sports will continue to make plays into esports. Major sports teams typically have the capital to invest, for one. If a major basketball, baseball or football team can be affiliated with major esports stars, that increases the chance of cross-promotion.
I have a feeling more celebrities and athletes are going to join the craze as well. With every major celebrity investing in esports, that will bring eyes onto the product that potentially weren’t there before. Keep in mind that just because someone plays video games, doesn’t mean they’re into esports at all.
Some of the celebrities who have already invested in esports might surprise you
Over the next year or so, I envision a major shift in how people perceive esports, especially with big names endorsing it. If you aren’t a fan of esports, but your favorite football player goes on about it in interviews or invests in a team, what might your response be? If this person you respect is in on it, maybe you should be too!
I’d like to see more investment and time put into fantasy leagues and those styles of betting systems. It could be another way to bring more eyes to esports. The Esports Survey seems to forecast a bright future for the future of esports. What do you think?
What would you like to see in the future of esports?
You can find the full survey here.