What Is eSports?

ESports turns online gaming into a spectator sport. It mimics the experience of watching a professional sporting event, except instead of watching a physical event, spectators watch video gamers compete against each other. The eSports trend has become so widespread in recent years that games can often be viewed at an organized arena event.

As with traditional sports, these games are broken down into competitive leagues and tournaments.

Key Takeaways

  • eSports refers to a relatively new class of spectator entertainment involving all genres of video gaming.
  • The genre sprung up in the 1990s but gained prominence in the late 2010s.
  • eSports today is a multi-billion dollar industry with hundreds of millions of fans worldwide.

Understanding eSports

Although the eSports industry is not new (it has been around since the 1990s) it has only recently begun to gain traction. Advances in technology have allowed the user experience to replicate real life. Plus, advanced Internet services solve connectivity issues and allow the user and the spectator to immerse themselves in the game without interruption.

Additionally, the mobile revolution has allowed users to access these games from anywhere; they no longer have to sit at home in front of their computers in order to engage in playing or watching online sports. These technological advances have allowed eSports to become a more prevalent part of people's day-to-day lives. The majority of users are males who work full-time and are between the ages of 21 and 35, and it's now easier for them to work eSports into a busy lifestyle.

eSports are particularly popular in much of Europe. Video gaming is the most popular YouTube genre in Scandinavian and Eastern European countries, and many countries have capitalized on the popularity by broadcasting eSports on major sports channels.

Major Players of the eSports Industry

There have been several major eSports operators, such as Turtle Entertainment, Major League Gaming (MLG), and Dreamhack. Activision Blizzard, one of the leading game publishers, bought out Major League Gaming in 2016 and has also developed its own proprietary eSports platform.

Large broadcasters have also invested heavily in the eSports industry, with U.S. sports broadcaster ESPN releasing its own eSports brand at the beginning of 2016 including its own awards and ceremony. Moreover, many European countries have started broadcasting eSports on major channels. In addition, large online gaming platforms dedicate resources to eSports streaming. Epic Games, in particular, has made great strides with Fortnite game tournaments and competitions available for fan viewing.

Economics of eSports

ESports has become a lucrative industry in recent years, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. This popularity has allowed it to function much like other professional sports leagues: players are paid by the operators in exchange for their participation; the operators are paid by the distributors in exchange for the right to broadcast the games and by the audience in exchange for the right to watch. Also, as with other sports and industries, eSports is prolific for the advertisers and partners that are featured alongside the games.