The Esports Evolution: Out of the Basement, Into Arenas

Esports have grown exponentially in recent years, expanding into a major industry that shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, the esports ecosystem is on track this year to surpass $ 1 billion in revenue for the first time.

However, even though esports is gaining traction, not everyone understands exactly what it is and why it matters.

TechNewsWorld spoke to a number of esports fans to hear what they had to say about the evolution of esports, what is driving its popularity, and what to expect from this burgeoning industry in the future.

“The growth of video games itself is well documented, to the point where I would say that games are no longer a subculture, games are culture,” Luke Cotton, COO. Code Red Esports, an esports agency in London, told TechNewsWorld.

“People love to compete and watch the competition, so the growth of esports is natural. Young people are growing up with the Internet, games, electronic sports and YouTube and Twitch are their main forms of entertainment, where they consume game content and electronic sports ”, he pointed out.

“Every year, the esports audience increases, as young people who grow up do not know a different world than this.”

Driven by current events

At a time when people are turning to a variety of alternative digital venues for entertainment, esports has become the activity of this age.

“Esports make sense,” Andy Miller, CEO of NRG, a professional games and entertainment company in Los Angeles, told TechNewsWorld. “One in three people on the planet plays every week, [so] of course they want to see the best in the world play the games they play and love. “

“The average age of NRG fans is 25,” he continued. “They have grown up playing and watching others play, and this has reduced the consumption of traditional media.”

The restrictions caused by the pandemic have also helped boost an industry that had already been taking off.

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“The global esports and game streaming business has grown exponentially in recent years, but [it] skyrocketed last year due to stay-at-home restrictions, “said Aaron Speach, CEO and founder of ESports Technologieshe explained to TechNewsWorld.

His company is a provider of esports marketing products, platforms and solutions that is developing betting products for esports fans and punters.

“People were looking for a community and a way to connect with others during that time, and the online nature of esports contributed to this perfect storm of events that helped fuel its popularity,” said Speach.

Big business

Although esports began as a cottage industry of people connected by a passion for video games, it quickly grew into a multi-billion dollar market.

“Initially, esports was a grassroots activity, fueled by passion, and events were mainly held online or sometimes in school hallways, in hotel ballrooms, or in public spaces. LAN centers, rather than the sold-out stadiums we see today, ”Cotton said.

“While there were occasional big events with cash prizes, players were rarely paid and played solely for the love of the game. While that love remains, it was a distant world from the multi-million dollar contracts signed by professional players today, colossal prizes that rival and often overshadow traditional sports, and the associated celebrity status, ”he observed.

The growth of esports has had as much to do with the evolution of technology as anything else.

“The most transformative moments for esports were technological – the introduction of free online streaming services, such as Justin.TV, which later became Twitch, was the catalyst for making esports widely accessible from a consumer perspective. viewing, which allowed for drastic audience growth, “Cotton said. .

“Before such services, streaming was very challenging, with significant bandwidth costs to stream video to even a small number of viewers,” he recalled. “Widespread high-speed domestic broadband enabled greater participation and consumption of such transmissions.”

The growth of esports, in turn, has attracted investment dollars that have helped facilitate even greater growth.

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“There has been a huge influx of investment dollars into the space recently, with increasing acceptance,” Bill Elafros, Founder of Toronto Elafros Consultinghe told TechNewsWorld. He is also a co-founder of Beat Invitational; an e-sports consulting and tournament organization service in Canada.

“Young people between the ages of 13 and 34 no longer watch as much television and are turning to other means to pass the time. When I started a decade ago, the stakes were much lower overall in the esports space. Investment dollars have been funneled, competition is tougher, sponsors are more selective, and production demands are much higher.

“Before, you could get away with smaller prizes, whereas now, a live event can run in six or seven figures, depending on the scope.

“Years ago, I could potentially get away without having a broadcast, without instant replays. Now it has become common practice to have that and an additional production staff on top, ”he explained.

Entertainment alongside the competition

A significant change in the field of e-sports has been the increase in the number of viewers.

“The most recent evolution of esports has seen it split in two different ways,” Cotton observed.

“The most traditional form of esports, which is the pinnacle of competition, with the best players in the world competing in stadiums for big prizes; and esports as entertainment, with native Twitch personalities creating competitive gaming content and interacting directly with and entertaining their fans, rather than having their sole objective as winning, “he described.

“I hope both paths continue and prosper, [and for] there will be a growing interest in traditional sports and entertainment, ”he predicted. As the esports audience continues to grow, their young audience traverses life and increases their disposable income, and as such, brands become more industry-focused. “

As both technology and games evolve, so will esports.

“New games come out all the time,” NRG’s Miller told TechNewsWorld. “The next big sport is right around the corner. New ways to watch streaming and interact as a fan are also being developed in esports and the game streaming space. Virtual reality is also a very exciting prospect for the future, with the ability to fuse human athletics into video game settings. “

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Along with the types of games available, the definition of “esports” is changing.

“The definition of esports continually evolves over time. Competitive games have evolved from the days of the 1v1 shooter arena to a much broader category of games, “said Elafros.

“Now you have a lot of traditional sports crossovers, with sim racing F1, soccer and more trying to get that lucrative 18-34 year old audience into regular fans as well. Additionally, many roles and job opportunities that do not exist in the esports industry will soon be in high demand, as the industry continues to evolve and mature, ”he explained.

New career opportunities

Ultimately, esports will continue to lead an ever-evolving digital ecosystem that it has helped to create.

“Esports are growing rapidly year after year and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” Seth Mason, Founder and CMO of The sports company, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, he told TechNewsWorld.

“Professional athletes from the major sports and e-sports market, [and] musicians, artists and more show that it is no longer just for the person in mom’s basement, “he said.

“Esports are beginning to shed the negative stigma that surrounded them in the early 2010s,” Mason said. “The future of esports revolves around education and the development of career fields around esports to create a number of opportunities to work in the industry.”

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