eSports Becoming a Sports Tourism Juggernaut | Sports Destination Management

eSports Becoming a Sports Tourism Juggernaut

Sep 05, 2018 | By: Michael Popke

If you still don’t believe eSports are a force to be reckoned with — and we know you’re out there — you might want to take a look at recent report posted on Deloitte Insights, a website that features content generated by the company’s professional services experts.

Here is an excerpt:

By 2020, the global eSports market is expected to generate $1.5 billion in annual revenues, primarily from sponsorships and advertising, to an estimated global audience of 600 million fans.Marketers bestowed more than 600 brand sponsorships on eSport titles and events in 2017 alone.Additional money comes from betting, ticket sales and merchandise.Revenues and engagement from eSports are increasingly driving top gaming publishers’ valuation and sales. In its Q4 2017 earnings announcement, Electronic Arts reported 18 million players engaged in competitive gaming on its FIFA 18and Madden NFL 18titles, up 75 percent over the previous year.Ubisoft followed suit in its FY 2017 earnings, citing record eSports viewership with Rainbow Six Siege.  More popular game titles are shifting to offer competitive multiplayer experiences.

For many businesses in media and entertainment, eSports offers a way to reach a demographic that’s been increasingly beyond their grasp. In general, players and fans are younger, less likely to watch linear TV, and often less interested in professional sports than the population as a whole. In 2017, Nielsen Media evaluated the demographics of eSports enthusiasts and found that 70 percent are male, ages 13 to 40, two-thirds said they watch live eSports, and 37 percent have attended live eSports events.

What’s more, almost 2,500 eSports jobs were posted by 681 companies in 36 countries during the first half of 2018 on Hitmarker, a leading eSports jobs board. More than two-thirds of those were paid positions, and 45 percent of them were in the United States, with another 30 percent offering remote work opportunities.

“We'd say the first half of 2018 is looking smashed from a numbers point of view,” the Hitmarker team wrote in a recent blog post. “Now to do the same for the rest of the year!


States doing the most hiring include, in descending order, California, Washington, New York, Texas and Nevada, and more than 90 percent of all job hunters in the eSports category — the overwhelming majority of which are male — are between the ages of 18 and 35.

But that isn’t the only age group playing video games. Deloitte’s “Digital Media Trends Survey,”released in March, indicates that half of Generation X respondents (those between the ages of 35 and 51) say they play video games at least once a week. That’s almost as much as millennials (ages 21-34) and Generation Z (ages 14-21).

The biggest takeaway from all this? “In the rapidly evolving eSports landscape, companies in media, entertainment and professional sports have an opportunity to access a valuable global audience, unlock advertising potential, develop new entertainment and hospitality offerings, and empower their franchises to grow in the modern media environment,” according to Deloitte Insights.

It’s time for venues and event hosts to start thinking about how they can create “new physical experiences for the eSports fan base,” the report’s authors contend.

“Just as social media, video platforms and messaging tools have expanded our physical behaviors into the digital world, eSports offers another way for us to exercise our competitive nature and celebrate our champions,” they conclude. 

Nowhere was that competitive nature more in evidence than recently, as eSports made its major multi-sport eventdebut in Jakarta Palembang 2018.

The Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) noted it was proud to organize what it termed the "historical" demonstration. China defeated Chinese Taipei to win the title of champions in Arena of Valor, a multi-player online battle arena developed and published by Tencent Games – at the BritAma Arena in North Jakarta. Vietnam finished second.

eSports is due to become an official medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in China, but Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director general Husain Al Musallam noted that it needs a single International Federation before it can be included as a medal sport. Presently, there are multiple organizations, all vying for the right to govern the sport at the highest level.

The 2018 Asian Games featured six titles  in addition to Arena of Valor; those are Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, League of Legends, Clash Royale, StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone.

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