Master of Science in Sport Management Online

Exploring the World of E-Sports in 2016 and Beyond

Although online competition in video games has been in existence for over a decade, the world of professional e-sports did not appear until the late 2000s. Before this time, contests were made up of amateurs simply competing for bragging rights. As these competitions gained attention, gamers began spending more and more time honing their craft and holding competitions for those at the top of their games.

In 2016, the world of e-sports dramatically changed as these online games gained attention from individuals and organizations well outside the video game field. In fact, over 200 million people worldwide regularly attended the competitions. As the future of sports continues to look toward the digital realm, it’s no surprise that this niche is growing.

The revenue stream generated from e-sports has increased in volume as sponsors develop their teams to take advantage of the publicity. Professional gamers at the top of the winners’ lists now have their pick when it comes to joining the best e-sports teams in the world. Their motivation for continuing their journey as a top contender is undoubtedly fueled by the consistently growing prize pools available, especially for international tournaments.

The future of e-sports is set to change once again as mobile gaming developers eye ways to enhance the player and fan experience. Understanding the way professional gaming has evolved in the past year can help you envision just how this world will change in the coming years.

Audience Demographic Expansion

An e-sports competition in action.
Video game competitions have come far from the days of gamers crowded around a single television screen or a bank of interlinked computers. Although e-sports pros may still line up in front of groups of computers, their network has the numbers to spread across an entire arena floor.

The increase in competitor numbers at each tournament directly reflects some of the people watching the onscreen battles. Gaming competitions that once drew dozens of spectators now draw crowds numbering in the thousands. Live streaming of the events allows additional viewers to tune in from every corner of the world.

The next form of demographic change to occur pertains to gender. Although males currently account for over 90 percent of e-sports enthusiasts, the gender gap in this realm is starting to narrow.


Revenue Growth Acceleration

As the e-sports audiences grow, so do the revenues generated during the local, national and international competitions. In 2016, the games produced more than $175 million in revenues in ticket sales, merchandise and advertising campaigns along with the copious amount of funds applied to sponsorships.

Everyone from the streaming entities to the publishers of the applicable games receives a portion of the revenues produced during the competition period.

Although the market growth in 2016 of 43 percent totaled less than prior years, projections indicate the potential for a steady uptick as currently unrepresented markets catch on to the gaming trend. With nearly 50 percent of e-sports enthusiasts coming from the underrepresented Southeast Asia market, there is plenty of potential for revenue growth in the coming years.


Sponsorship Opportunities Abound

The best performing gaming professionals have their pick of  leagues and sponsorship opportunities. The sponsors supporting the e-sports participants range from large corporations to the best educational institutions worldwide.

Sponsorships pay for the e-sports professionals to attend practice sessions and participate in local and international competitions. The most influential sponsors may pay up to two million dollars each per season to support the associated leagues on their journey to greatness – and the pot is set to grow in the coming years. Sponsors greatly benefit from the public awareness of their brands’ message and wares, which pays them back in dividends well after each season ends.


Prize Pool Totals Surge

Although bragging rights do go a long way in furthering e-sports professionals’ careers, the chance to win large prize pools offer an even bigger draw. In 2016, the average prize offered at each local competition was just under $30,000. For international games, however, the prize pools regularly end up in the millions. Gamers vie for the chance to earn a portion of the offered prizes by honing their skills and joining as many tournaments as possible.

The large prize pools not only bring the best in the gaming world to the tables but also draw immense attention and speculation from the crowds. As revenues continually increase from the competitions, so do the prize pools across the entire board. The vast majority of pro gamers fail to make more than a few hundred dollars apiece due to the league sizes and competitive structure at the top of the tournament listings. The allure of becoming an e-sports pro, and taking home more than a million in prize winnings a year, keeps gamers motivated to climb the ranks.


Mobile Game Integration Begins

Despite the fierce competition, the integration of low-pressure mobile gaming threatens to turn e-sports on its head. The lighthearted, yet challenging, mobile game market could potentially break up the long competitions into mini games played much more frequently.

Although smaller local tournaments likely mean diminished prize pools, the winnings could spread across the gaming leagues much more evenly as a result. Large international tournaments, however, still offer prize pools well past the 300,000 dollar mark to bring the best of the professional gaming world out in pursuit of the winner’s circle.

Only time will tell exactly how mobile game integration will change e-sports, but competitors are already lining up to participate in the changing tournament landscape. At the very least, audience, revenue, and prize pool projections show that incredible growth is still in store for the engaging and entertaining world of professional gaming. As evidenced by the big move in mobile gaming competitions, when software developers come out with the next big thing in gaming, it will also undoubtedly end up in the e-sports arena.

If you are working toward your Master of Science in Sport Management, it’s important to stay informed about the latest trends in sports – with e-sports now being an important one. Learn more about the degree and about new sports trends by visiting Adelphi University online.