Esports refers to organized online video gaming events. These are organized, multiplayer tournaments or competitions that are played by both amateur and professional gamers. Fanatics of esports can watch them whether online or by attending the events physically. They became popular about 20 years ago and pioneered in South Korea. In 1998, Blizzard entertainment launched StarCraft which was a strategic game, and hooked many teenagers in Seoul once broadband was available in that area. The local government noticed the craze with the teenagers and therefore the ministry of culture, sport and, tourism created KeSPA as an official Esport organization.
Since then, we have seen a rise, growth, and evolution in the esports industry. The rise even saw that in 2014 Amazon purchased Twitch for $970 million. Twitch is a very popular site for gaming enthusiasts and can be considered as the YouTube of videogames. The numbers have rapidly grown over the years since spectators watched 192 billion minutes of gaming in 2014 and by 2016, the numbers were at 292 billion minutes.
The growth of esports has seen an emergence of other aspects of the industry. Some casinos have embraced them as a sport and therefore look at them not only from a betting perspective but also a set of events that their clients can accommodate and enjoy. Sites such as Casibella have already made use of hosting esports events in the past and have seen great results coming off it. It has also led to esports influencers who are content creators and use resources such as social media, podcasts, live streaming to interact with enthusiasts while sharing skills tricks, and their expertise in the field.
Esports is a flourishing industry with billions of dollars in revenue and with a fan base of more than 5 million. It is huge in Asia but mainly in China. In 2019 alone China drove revenue of $396.2 million. It was closely followed by North America and western Europe who drove $252.8 million and $201.2 million respectively.
Popular genres and esports with big marketing potentials
Some of the biggest video games genres are listed below,
• MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena)
• FPS (first-person shooter)
• Card games
• Strategies, with the subdivision of RTS (real-time strategy) and TBS (turn-based strategy)
• Battle royale
When it comes to franchises, the most popular names are,
• League of legends
• Dota 2 (MOBA)
• Counter-strike (FPS)
• Fortnite (battle royale)
• Call of duty (FPS)
• Overwatch (FPS)
All the above-mentioned games pull large numbers of both amateur and professional gamers who participate in paid challenges and play the games for fun. For example, Dota 2 which was released in 2013 has awarded more than $227.5 million in more than 1400 tournaments to its big fan base of more than 3800 professional gamers making it at the top of the most awarded video games. In second place we have Counter-strike: global offensive which has had more than 5200 tournaments and awarded more than $102 million, it was released in 2012.
Why marketers should consider esports
1. Billions of people watching
Apart from the players, Esports also pulls a huge number of audiences. The 2019 Q3 Global Digital Statshort report published by data reportel states that almost 1 billion people are watching video game tournaments. These large numbers are a consideration for your marketing strategies.
2. A young, diverse, and digitally savvy audience
Statistics show that esports fans are mainly Generation Z’s and millennials. This shows that these are young consumers who are interested in technology and digital tools. For marketers, this presents an opportunity they can strategize upon. The distribution of the ages is, 32% are between 16 and 24 years, 30% are between25 to 34 years and 19% are 35 to 44 years.
3. Mostly men but increasing interests from women
Most video game enthusiasts are men due to their higher education. However, many women are joining the bandwagon and are also interested in knowing more about esports in general. majority of global game players are from the Asia Pacific and it is also the area with the highest rate of increase in interest in esports. Therefore, for a marketer targeting this region, this is perfect for you.
4. An engaging audience
Fans of esports spend a lot of time not only on watching tournaments but also on live streaming. These are very interactive platforms where users share ideas therefore very interactive and efficient for marketers who want to interact with their audiences.
Esports has a major impact on the sports industry and should be given almost as much priority as traditional sports. This is evident at the live events and tournaments that are very popular and gather thousands of fans who watch the competitors both online and offline making it perfect for marketing.