The eSports industry has been growing exponentially in recent years. The number of spectators has increased considerably, which has sparked the interest of brands to invest in eSports marketing – this means that the industry is generating more and more revenue.
Newzoo, a leader in data on video games and gamers, defines eSports as “professional or semi-professional competitive gaming in an organized format (tournament or league) with a specific goal/prize, such as winning a championship title or prize money).” The company releases annual reports that analyze market developments and the latest trends in global eSports.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of eSports. With the lockdown, people ended up turning to livestreaming to entertain themselves at home. Even with the problems faced during this period, such as the cancellation of in-person events, the eSports market kept expanding, reaching areas in which this industry did not operate before.
The growth has been happening since 2016. According to Newzoo, in 2019, the total eSports audience consisted of 397.8 million viewers, with 197 million enthusiasts (those who watch professional eSports content more than once a month) and 200.8 million occasional viewers. The numbers continued to increase each year: in 2020, there were 435.9 million viewers (220.5 occasional and 215.4 enthusiasts), and in 2021, 474 million (240 occasional and 234 enthusiasts). By 2024, it’s predicted that there are going to be 577.3 million viewers, with 291.6 million occasional viewers and 285.7 million enthusiasts.
This phenomenon can be seen all over the world. Both in North America and Western Europe, which have been consuming this content for longer, and in places like the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, eSports continues to expand. With the use of mobile for streaming, Brazil and India are examples of markets that are in increasing demand.
In addition, the numbers in Brazil draw attention: there are about 101 million gamers, making the country the fifth largest in gamers of the world, shows Newzoo. In the report done in 2022, the company points out that 80% of Brazilians are game enthusiasts – here as a definition for those who “engage with games by playing, viewing, owning and/or by social behavior” – while 11% were gamers in the past.
As for the financial aspect, the research indicates that U$ 2.7 billion (more than R$ 14 billion) have already been spent on games in Brazil, which puts us in tenth place in the world market.
As we have already mentioned, brands are paying attention to the expansion of eSports, making significant investments. By 2018, according to Newzoo, revenue was up as much as 30% annually. Even though in 2019 the year-over-year revenue growth was lower at 23.3%, it was higher than anticipated.
However, with the pandemic in 2020, there was a drop of 1.1%, and revenue stood at $971 million – a drop caused mainly by cancellations and restrictions set during this period. By 2021, the scenario looked more favorable, and Newzoo predicted a 14.5% increase, reaching $1.084 billion. For 2024, it is estimated that the revenue will exceed $1.6 billion.
One important reason why more viewers are emerging is that more people are discovering eSports: in 2015, just over 800,000 people knew about this industry, but since then there has been a boom and by 2016 the number was over 1 billion. For brands, this means a larger audience, and with investment, consequently, more people are reached.
The platforms are responsible for making eSports accessible: it is possible to watch eSports videos and events, as streamers make live broadcasts covering these events and even of themselves playing. Thus, any fan can more easily participate and interact.
Twitch is the preferred platform for streamers and viewers. According to a report by Streamlabs, between July and September 2021, there were 5.79 billion hours watched, while in the same period on YouTube Gaming, views reached 1.13 billion hours and on Facebook Gaming, 1.29 billion.
The prize pool in tournaments is also important. Evidently, as the industry has grown, the amount to be awarded has also increased. In 2019, the total prize money for 6006 tournaments was an exorbitant $251,021,764.28, with 30,956 active players. However, the pandemic in 2020 caused a drop in the number of tournaments, players and prize pool: there were 5400 tournaments, 29,168 active players and $140,905,429.29 in total prize pool, a reduction of almost 45%, but still a lot of money. In 2021, the amount went up again: $244,882,266.27 in 5336 tournaments with 28,254 active players.