Where eSports is in 2021 and Where It is Heading in the Future
The rise of eSports as a new form of entertainment wasn’t derailed by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic though the phenomenon was slowed down somewhat by it. While the rest of the economy reels from the economic aftershocks of the prolonged lockdown many countries are still lingering under, eSports, unlike its cousin that relies upon live events, has leveraged its unique strengths to weather the changing conditions brought by the shutdown of in-person entertainment.
Even so, growth prospects for both the live and virtual aspects of eSports remain rosy as soon as the pandemic itself subsides. Initially the shining light in an otherwise dull entertainment sector, eSports was attracting huge numbers and massive capital prior to the great freeze that was 2020 and this trend is expected to resume, if everything goes according to plan, by 2022 to 2023 at the latest.
Two massive factors are going to propel the growth according to eSports analysts and this is the explosion in the number of games and events held per year as well as the entry of new niches and formats into major play. What does this mean exactly? In the first instance, eSports growth future growth is tied to not only an increase in the number of major events held each year but also the establishment of more indie or small-scale events perhaps centered on more niche titles and audiences.
This will be in both live events and even more pronounced online where eSports virtual events can be held in a relatively cost-effective manner compared to even the most modest live event.
An increase in the number of competitive events at all levels as well as the extension of the format to more games and thus, consequently, more audiences makes sense as a driver for growth for eSports in that higher numbers of people participating will attract larger sponsor dollars and so on.
The second element of eSports growth is more unique to it as an entertainment niche, and this is the entry of new niches and formats into major play. What analysts mean by this is the extension of eSports to platforms such as virtual reality and even mobile games. Considering the potential reach of some mobile games as well as how dedicated some audiences can be to them, that latter notion is quite potent indeed when you consider how much mobile makes given its relative age in the greater scheme of gaming.
It combines accessibility, numbers, and an easily monetizable format that investors love and that eSports needs to continue to grow and expand as an entertainment segment. Mobile, in particular, is viewed with particular interest by eSports entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on massive new audiences.
As Business Insider notes,
“The future of esports will likely be powered by mobile, which will further reduce barriers to entry and allow even more gamers and fans to pour in. The mobile gaming segment is set to make up 45% of the total global games market this year. That popularity is already spilling over into some competitive spaces, as China already has a thriving mobile esports scene.”
Whether that growth materializes will be an interesting development to watch though one salient trend is quite clear: eSports as a massive pillar of the modern entertainment industry isn’t just a trend — it’s here to stay.