According to a new report from The Diffusion Group (TDG), eSports has been silently exploding, out of the mainstream eye for years but now capturing the attention of companies throughout the interactive entertainment and gaming space.
“As entertainment executives readily admit, it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify and build an audience of loyal, engaged consumers with highly desirable demographics,” notes Patrick Perez, author of TDG’s latest report.
“That’s one of the reasons there is so much excitement around eSports.”
If the earlier part of the decade was about proving the feasibility of various eSports models, then the latter part has been about growing assets, land grabs, and creating a sustainable business estimated to be on track to reach $1.6 billion by 2022. “Welcome to eSports 2.0,” argues Perez.
A number of factors make eSports ripe for solid growth during the next decade: the oncoming 5G rollout, faster computers, new business models/revenue streams, new measurement tools, and most importantly, mainstream acceptance, from fans as well as advertisers and sponsors. To get there, the eSports industry is learning to speak the language of established sports business models. Consequently, “We are seeing huge rights deals completed and, in one case, a platform acquisition worth nearly a billion dollars.”
Take, for example, recent activity by Activision Blizzard and its Overwatch League, which announced the addition of numerous OWL franchises for its 2019 season; a list that now includes Atlanta, Guangzhou, Toronto, Paris, Washington D.C., Vancouver, Hangzhou, and Chengdu. As well, battle royale games like Fortnite Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) have grown in popularity and profits. Fortnite announced in June that it had 125 million players, with PUBG claiming 400 million players across all platforms, including 50 million downloads sold on Windows and Xbox One. Separately, eSports will be included in the Asian Games as a demonstration sport. If all goes well, it will be pitched for the 2022 games as a medal-worthy sport.
But the reach of eSports is not confined to PCs and game consoles. Mobile publisher Tencent recently announced that downloads for its mobile PUBG passed the 100 million market, including both iOS and Android platforms. Fortnite surpassed that milestone in its first three months, reaching 100 million downloads on iOS, and recently launched on Android, circumventing the Google Play store, to reach 15 million downloads in just 21 days.