What are esports, and what are their emerging business models? | Business Upturn

What are esports, and what are their emerging business models?

The esports phenomenon is experiencing one of the highest growth rates regarding followers. Thanks to e-sports, the doors have been opened to new business ideas in a sphere that already moves large amounts of money. We are discussing video game competitions with a professional character, which are no longer just a game but a profession. If you still need to learn what esports are, read on!

What are esports?


eSports, or electronic sports are a concept used to name video game competitions organized professionally. Although the eSports industry is not new (it has been around since the 1990s just like online casino games), it has only recently started to gain popularity.

Technological advances have allowed the user experience to resemble real life. In addition, advanced Internet services solve connectivity problems and allow users and viewers to immerse themselves in the game without interruption.

Its operation is effortless: each esports game has rules and access to different devices and online or offline platforms.

Evolution of esports

Since the 1990s, video games have gone from occasional pastimes to organized professional sports. Today, eSports is an industry that, according to a report by Grand View Research, will reach $1 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of +15.7% between 2020 and 2027

This shows that the eSports industry is in the gold rush of modern times. Major television networks ESPN, TBS and SyFy broadcast eSports events; traditional sports leagues such as the NHL and NBA have launched tournaments and leagues, and NBA and NFL team owners have acquired stakes in eSports teams.

Although, at first, it might seem that the format would not be successful – an audience that would not enjoy watching the game as much as playing it themselves – it has already been proven that these video game competitions, in which spectators watch how other gamers play, are a real draw.

The esports market

Here is some data to help you understand what esports are, what is the average profile of its audience and the keys to their way of consuming according to the latest surveys:

  • Most of the audience prefer to play eSports on weekends (62%), compared to those who prefer to play during the week (38%).
  • Esports fans live their passion both actively and passively. Most respondents say they prefer to watch and play esports (86 %) rather than play (7.6 %) or just watch (5.7 %).
  • Women accounted for almost 9% of respondents, compared to more than 80% of men. A figure that at first glance might seem very low, but which hides a 293% increase in female representation compared to last year.
  • The home PC remains the preferred device for watching esports (60%), followed by the cell phone as the second choice (22%) and, in third place, but far behind the top positions, the television (5.9%).

What are the requirements for video games to be considered e-Sports?

The video game industry is almost infinite, so not all can be considered eSports. There is a series of rules or conditions to consider. Although these are not official regulations, these are some of their most outstanding characteristics:

  • Esports games must allow confrontation between two or more players (games that are not multiplayer are thus ruled out). In addition, they must compete on equal terms. Players cannot pay for more experience; only the competitors’ skill comes into play.
  • There must be official leagues and competitions organized by companies or sponsors that give echoes of the event in the media and have professionalized teams and players.
  • Reach many fans who play or follow the competitions to create informative demand. Currently, there are already several platforms that offer to follow this type of competition in streaming. The most famous is Twitch, owned by the giant Amazon.

Business opportunities in eSports

The economic figures that video games have achieved in recent years show that they are a robust economic sector, with possibilities to work in esports and booming with thousands of followers worldwide.

According to a Newzoo study, eSports could surpass the Super Bowl or the Champions League in terms of spectators and final revenues in less than ten years.

As a result of this, several business opportunities are generated in the esports market; some of the most common are:

  • Competitions: There is an ecosystem of teams, players, prizes, chips, and transfers.
  • Marketing: Sponsors and advertisers can leverage the growing esports audience to promote their products and services and implement other esports marketing strategies. This includes team and competition sponsorships and advertising on online platforms and during live events.
  • Ticket sales: Esports event organizers can generate revenue through ticket sales for live events.
  • Merchandising: Esports teams and brands can generate revenue by selling branded products, such as t-shirts, caps, and other merchandise.
  • Broadcast rights: Event organizers and online streaming platforms can generate revenue by selling broadcast rights to esports events and competitions.
  • Games and content: Game developers and online content creators can generate revenue by selling esports-related games and content.

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