The global eSports market has undergone foundational changes in the past several years. What does 2021 and beyond hold for the popular industry?
The Worldwide eSports Market In 2021: What’s Going To Happen & Why?
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: yes, the eSports market benefitted in no small part from the global COVID19 pandemic. Everybody’s talking about it, and there’s no escaping the words “coronavirus” or “COVID19” in hardly any eSports predictions article nowadays.
But it’s hard not to think that the industry wouldn’t have done just as successfully even if a viral pandemic wasn’t wreaking havoc across the planet. Sure, exploring ways to make the most of one’s time is a given once you’re confined indoors. This industry’s pre-pandemic meteoric rise only continued during the lockdown and filled the physical sporting world’s gap.
eSports has become a very lucrative sector – one that rivals even traditional multi-billion-dollar sports industries. With numerous investors considering pouring funds into this exciting opportunity, it’s a great idea to look into what’s likely to happen with it in 2021 and beyond. Here’s what we know so far:
- Streaming platforms to emphasize non-gaming content
- Changes in eSports market advertising
- The PC platform is likely to give way to mobile games & events
- Blurred lines between traditional and eSports
- Greater emphasis on new technologies like VR
Streaming Platforms To Emphasize Non-Gaming Content
Twitch is among the globally most popular streaming platforms today and represents the leader among curated viewing experiences online. The entertainment sector’s more conventional players have failed to quickly adapt to such formats and prevent younger audiences from seeking content elsewhere. As a result, non-gaming content has flourished across platforms like YouTube and Twitch.
The eSports market featured numerous in-person event cancellations in 2020 due to the epidemic. The situation caused multiple brands to search for innovative and alternative ways of engaging with younger viewers. Non-gaming content continues to grow in popularity on Twitch even though the platform became famous thanks to gaming.
Consequently, one of the most popular categories on Twitch nowadays is “Just Chatting.” Simultaneously, the platform also hosts live shows, concerts, and political events as a means of safely circumventing lockdown measures.
There is also a notable trend of young people moving away from cable television. All of the aforementioned suggests a continuous evolution of video-content platforms to provide live content of a wider variety.
Changes In eSports Market Advertising
Traditional sport structure wrote the book on branding and advertising. However, organizations like eSports teams continuously diversify operations because of the nature of their industry. Examples of such diversification include broadening their horizons to include content-creator strategies or positioning themselves as lifestyle brands.
Becoming a lifestyle brand translates to entering pop culture and becoming more than a mere eSports organization. The most significant benefit of such repositioning is that it allows a company to diversify its income streams. As a result, unforeseen circumstances that cause one revenue stream to underperform may not cause extensive damage thanks to another stream’s financial contribution.
But, how can an eSports organization benefit from content creation? Well, signing a content creator means the organization has new assets it can sell to sponsors. In addition to the pro players on the roster, content creators as assets also represent individual influencers.
Additionally, negotiating with different platforms is easier when you have content creators as additional leverage. How? Organizations can get an exclusivity fee on a particular platform by “bundling” such influencers together.
PC Platform Giving Way To Mobile
Personal computers dominated the eSports market until recently. However, smartphones and other mobile devices are slowly but surely taking over and have been in the past couple of years.
For example, when it comes to peak eSports viewer counts, games like Garena Free Fire and PUBG Mobile regularly outperform PC titles like Dota 2 and CS:GO.
Like Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, and China, various parts of the world continuously record a growing consumer appetite for mobile-powered eSports. There are no signs of this trend slowing down, in no small amount thanks to technological achievements such as 5G.
5G will allow eSports gamers to avoid installing new infrastructure and improve their gaming experience due to better streaming capabilities and transformed download speeds.
Blurred Lines Between Traditional & ESports
You’ll find numerous industry experts claiming that 2021 and beyond will see an unprecedented convergence between eSports and mainstream sports. Indeed, the current market situation supports this hypothesis, and professional football teams are the perfect example.
One team, in particular, the Philadelphia Eagles, signed a deal in December 2020 to name EEG (Esports Entertainment Group) the team’s official eSports tournament provider. The multi-year contract includes EEG operating bi-annual eSports tournaments on behalf of the Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles will go down in history as progenitors of a move that is likely to ignite increasing connectedness between traditional sports teams and organizations in the eSports market. As a result, the clear line between virtual and conventional sports is likely to become more obscure in the future.
Emphasis On New Technologies Like VR
The world of electronic sports is one of continuous innovation, and VR (virtual reality) is at the forefront of technological advancements. Much like AR (augmented reality), VR caused a revolution in the gaming industry, and gamers will continue to develop new ways of application in 2021.
The most significant benefit of VR in gaming is its ability to provide players with a more immersive gaming experience. In turn, becoming more immersed can help improve one’s gameplay, causing better results and more entertainment for spectators.
2020 was an extraordinary year in which most economies and industries struggled to stay afloat. 2021 is shaping up to be just marginally more stable, none of which seems to matter for the eSports market.
Not only has this sector mainly remained unaffected but has even grown when most others neared extinction. Regardless of the point of view, the future is bright for eSports and gaming, both of which are hurling towards new and exciting milestones.