Are you among those who used to play games almost 20 years ago? Then probably at that time, you could have hardly imagined video games having their own highly-acclaimed competitions and championships one day.

While some of us might still remember one video game competition series in the 90s (the Nintendo World Championships anyone?), it wasn’t until about a decade ago that large game tournaments started to gain more and more viewers.

Fast-forward to the present day and welcome to the world of eSports: an industry governed by big events like World Cyber GamesMajor League Gaming, and Intel Extreme Masters, attracting younger generations who like gaming sports just as much as ‘real sports’. A soon-to-be USD 1 billion business with a global audience of over 300 million fans, according to the latest research.

Now that we have grabbed your attention, let`s focus on the main factors that are set to pave the way for this industry’s incredible growth.

From sponsorships to advertising and blockchain

A recent global eSports Market Report released by Newzoo indicates several key drivers that will determine this pace of growth. Let’s take them one by one.

Sponsorships and advertising

Sponsorship is the highest eSports revenue stream worldwide, expected to contribute USD 359.4 million in 2018, as compared to USD 234.6 million in 2017. With more and more brands showing an interest in sponsorships given the increasing popularity of the industry, this trend appears sustainable.

Advertising comes second, with nearly USD 174 million, which is expected to increase by 23.8% from the respective 2017 value. Ads which are served to eSports viewers include those shown during live streams on online platforms before or in between games, ads shown on VOD content of eSports matches, or advertising on TV around eSports content.

The power of mobile

With over USD 50 billion in global revenues in 2017, mobile has grown to be the biggest gaming segment. However, its eSports scene is still developing and differs per region.

For example, in Asia, mobile eSports have witnessed an explosive increase in 2017, driven by the mobile-first culture across the region. They already have a similar structure to PC-based counterparts, with many top mobile competitive titles having professional leagues, live stadium events, and millions of viewers. Honourable mention: Tencent’s King of Glory (Arena of Valor outside of China).

In the West, PC-based game franchises are expected to continue dominating eSports viewership. While many mobile eSports initiatives will be launched until the end of this year, it will remain a niche within the region and take a different direction, as compared to Asia.

Blockchain: the game-changing technology

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain – decentralized digital ledgers on which information is saved publicly – are taking eSports to a new level. This enables the industry to adopt new technologies much faster, as compared to other sectors like banking, for example.

As it is the case with most players in the blockchain space, transparency, along with the aim to reduce online fraud and high transactional fees are on the priority list in gaming, as well.

Statistics at a glance

Here are some eSports industry facts and statistics, as illustrated in the Newzoo report:

• The number of eSports enthusiasts across the globe will reach 165 million in 2018 (up by 15.2%), while the total eSports audience will reach 380 million by the end of 2018;

• The average annual revenue per eSports enthusiast will be USD 5.49 this year, growing by 20% from USD 4.58 in 2017;

• In 2017, almost 588 major eSports-related events were held, which generated USD 59 million in ticket revenues, versus USD 32 million in 2016;

• USD 112 million represents the total prize money of all eSports events held in 2017.

Standing at the intersection between technology, gaming and entertainment, the eSports industry is a fascinating space, which takes the experience of watching a professional sporting event to new levels.

Adriana Screpnic, Content Marketing Specialist, G2A PAY