eSports have grown exponentially in the last decade, obtaining more and more followers and attracting much greater economic investment. The rise of eSports has revolutionised the entertainment industry and it’s become a focus of attention of investors for the future.
Taking into account the popularity of eSports among the younger population, it’s now essential to know what they are and what advantages they can offer companies. On the occasion of the Mobile Talk that took place last Thursday, 7 October, we will delve into the world of eSports and explain the future of this new form of entertainment in our country and the opportunities for collaboration they can offer for companies.
What are eSports?
eSports or electronic sports can be defined as an activity in which two or more players compete in the virtual environment of a video game. The tournament can be carried out remotely or in person.
Although the so-called competition gaming is always based on a video game, not all video games are considered eSports. For this, they must meet a specific series of requirements. The three fundamental features of an eSport are:
- The confrontation between two participants or more.
- The competition on equal terms.
- The creation of official leagues and tournaments with regulations and professional teams.
Of course, the most popular competition video games also have another distinctive feature: their massive popularity in the form of face-to-face or online audiences. This includes the live-streams of the competition, as well as broadcasts on traditional media and platforms such as Twitch or YouTube.
The Origins of eSports
Although the rise of eSports is very recent, the history of video game tournaments is almost half a century long. The first official gaming tournament was held in 1972 at Stanford University, in which five players competed in the Spacewar! video game. Throughout the 1980s, companies like Atari organised more tournaments to popularise their products.
However, the real growth in popularity of eSports took place in the following decade. In Europe and the United States, gaming was consolidated as a competitive activity in the 80s, through the organisation of shooting video game tournaments, such as Doom or Quake. It was in South Korea, however, that video game competition gained popularity earlier, thanks to the rise of broadband networks in mainstream society.
The parallel growth of eSports in Asia and Western countries caused video game sporting events to multiply and professional teams to be created. Today, eSports can be considered true sporting events, and video games such as League of Legends or Clash Royale attract millions of viewers, who create virtual communities around official tournaments.
There are eSports tournaments for a large number of video games, both professional and amateur. However, there are a smaller number of them that attract a global audience. First among them is League of Legends eSport, the most popular eSport in the world today. Other tournaments such as Fortnite’s Dreamhack Duos have also achieved great international popularity.
Just like traditional sports, tournaments are organised by leagues. In Spain, there are currently four professional eSports leagues, each one dedicated to a particular video game: Superliga Orange (League of Legends), R6 Spain Nationals (Rainbow Six: Siege), Unity League (Counter Strike: Global Offensive) and the Crown League (Clash Royale). Beyond these leagues, multiple tournaments are organised by video game fans, making the total number of gaming tournaments very difficult to calculate.
Professional competitive gaming teams often reach the popularity of traditional athletes: this is the case of the Vietnamese team GAM eSports or the Spanish organisation G2 Gaming. The latter has eight different teams and more than 12 million followers on Twitch. Its popularity is due in large part to G2’s participation in Worlds, the most popular League of Legends tournament
The Appeal of Tournaments
E-gaming tournaments have a growing audience: in 2019 alone, eSports brought in a total of €35 million in Spain. The growth of competitive video games has consolidated them as an economic sector with great potential and with many growth opportunities. But what is it that makes these events so attractive to the public?
The answer is very simple: in addition to the competitive interest that they arouse, in a similar way to traditional sports, eSports boast the advantage of having the support of new technologies: the live broadcast of tournaments, the creation of communities around a video game and the participation of online personalities such as the presenter Ibai contribute to generating interest in the development of tournaments. All these factors mean that different business areas can benefit from the opportunities offered by eSports as a market niche.
New business models
Since beginning to enter the corporate domain, eSports have attracted a large number of companies that have acted as investors and sponsors of tournaments, congresses and fairs related to this activity. Although collaboration with sponsors is one of the main forms of investment in the world of e-gaming, it is by no means the only one.
eSports create a wide range of opportunities to generate business in different areas:
- Competition: From creating clubs to organising events, tournaments are the core of eSports and can generate huge profits.
- Marketing: Working with sponsors is an opportunity to generate publicity on social networks and traditional media.
- Communication: Specialised platforms and channels such as Twitch or Mixer play a fundamental role in the popularisation of eSports, and also generate considerable income thanks to the user traffic. Many communications companies, such as Movistar, Orange or Neox, have opted for the creation of content related to electronic sports.
- Training: The creation of online centres to train promising new talent or collaborations with university institutions are some of the main opportunities presented by electronic sports.
- Merchandising: Teams such as G2 already have collaborators for the production of clothing and accessories that help to popularise their brand.
- Technology: eSports have increased the demand for technological equipment for players and spectators. Companies now exist that are dedicated to the development of components and peripherals created specifically for competition gaming.
The future of eSports in our country
In 2018, Spain was the twelfth country in the world in terms of the size of its eSports audience. The format has more than 2.5 million enthusiasts in Spain who regularly follow tournaments. It is estimated that the number will grow even more when eSports are consolidated as a professional sporting activity: the International Olympic Committee is considering including eSports in the Olympic Games, which could give the definitive boost to this booming sector.
In this context, Spain is one of the states with the most involvement in eSports thanks to popular figures such as Ibai or Piqué, who have even founded their own e-gaming company. However, there are still challenges ahead for it to become an economic powerhouse in the sector. These include support for professional players, the creation of an official competition calendar and coordination between the different leagues.
All of this cannot be achieved without the business support of investors willing to promote changes in the industry, and contribute to its economic growth and greater recognition. If the corporate world seizes the opportunities offered by video game competition, eSports could become one of the most popular and economically viable forms of digital entertainment of the 21st century.