It is getting harder and harder to call Esports a niche market, as a new report by research firm SuperData Research Inc says that esports has become a $612 million industry.
“In many ways competitive gaming seems, at least at first glance, to resemble traditional sports,” SuperData wrote in the report. “But to think that a new phenomenon like eSports can be described in terms of the old is to misunderstand it entirely. The intersection of technology, fandom and interactive entertainment is presenting us with new ways of sharing experiences on a global scale. And with 134 million eSports enthusiasts worldwide, this is no longer a niche activity, but a shift in the way people consume games.”
According to SuperData, the Asian market still dominates esports as an industry, especially in China and South Korea.
South Korea is considered by many to be the first region to support esports as a serious, legitimate form of competition and entertainment, and the country built the world’s first dedicated esports stadium all the way back in 2005. Korean esports television broadcasters Ongamenet and MBC Game together earned $203 million in advertising revenue.
Esports is more than game studios
SuperData notes that esports is not only valuable for the publishers whose games are popularized by the competitions, but it also creates revenue for the teams who compete, the leagues who organize the events, the live streaming platforms that broadcast the competitions, and the brands who sponsor players or events.
“The current market for eSports knows a wide variety of participants that each bring their own specialization,” the report says. “As the overall business model begins to solidify, the market will see more vertical integration and consolidation.”
A report by Eventbrite earlier this year showed that esports events drive stronger engagement among both participants and viewers, leading to increased spending on games, merchandise, and sponsor products.
According to SuperData, an overwhelming majority of esports fans are male, and most are under the age of 35, placing them in the sweet spot demographic that many advertisers target. The report does not that the demographic will likely change as the industry matures, and its audience does along with it.