The Future of eSports in 2018 and Beyond

Performance.

Image source

The past year or so has seen the increase in interest and participation in eSports, and it is a trend that is set to continue throughout this year and beyond – you only have to look at the amazing accomplishments made in esports in the last year to see that.

What accomplishments? First of all, the fact that 12 teams were signed up to the Overwatch League where they played in the world’s first global league based on city locations. Then, there was the fact that some of the biggest names in sports ownership invested in that league, including Jeff Wilpon of the New York Mets and Robert Kraft, who owns both the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution, amongst others. Not only that but the League of Legends World Championship pulled in 60 million viewers last year, a rise of 17 million from the previous year.

If all that sounds astonishing, prepare to be blown away in the following months and years which is set to see an explosion in eSports and a number of exciting new trends, some of which I have identified below…

eSports Awareness Will Grow Rapidly

The first thing that is going to happen in the coming months is that consumer awareness of eSports is going to grow faster than anyone has really predicted. With more celebrities and sports team owners and consumer brand investing in the eSports world, there are going to be few people who have not at least heard about them going forward. In fact, according to Newzoo – an industry research group – 1.3 billion people already know something about eSports, and that number is rapidly increasing as the industry is blended into the traditional sports world, – something that was given a boost when ESPN aired a commercial for the Overwatch League during the ESPYs in 2017.

Sponsorship Deals Will Increase

Some huge corporations like Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz and Intel have already invested in eSports, helping the industry to generate over $1.5 billion in revenue in 2017 and according to SuperData – a company who analyze and compile statistics, this number is set to rise to roughly $2.3 billion in the next four years. This will be due not only to the increased interest in the industry but also due to increased investment by Blue chip companies and brand outside of the industry who are becoming more interested in sponsoring eSports tournaments.

It is thought that more brands will get in on the ground with eSports sponsorship deals due to the stability of concerns like the Overwatch League and the Riot’s League Championship and their ability to reach a large number of people.

More Famous People Will Get Involved

The huge growth of eSports gaming has not only caught the eye of large corporations – it has also been noted by celebrities, professional athletes and owners who have noted its potential and who have decided to grab a piece of the pie for themselves, Stars including Jennifer Lopez and Shaquille O’Neal have already invested in eSports and you can bet your bottom dollar that others will follow and use their influence to push their favorite eSports. This should mean that greater developments are made in the industry with bigger and better games and more professional leagues popping up all over the place.

Drone Races Will be Big

Drone and Quadcopter already has its enthusiasts, but as drones become ever more sophisticated and more people are able to afford them, they are only going to become a bigger part of the eSports world. You can expect to see more sponsored races and better prizes than ever before as this happens.

VR Will Also Be Big

Perhaps even more excitingly than an increase in drone-based eSports is the trend for virtual reality games, which is set to take the eSports world by storm in the coming months as the technology becomes more refined. Since VR technology gives players a much more life-like experience, this is likely to spice up the industry and make for much more exciting viewing too.

Big Streaming Deals Will Be Struck

As more people become aware of and interested in eSports, there is a good chance that a premium subscription model will come into force, but before that, we are likely to see bidding frenzies and big money deals with the likes of Facebook, Youtube and Twitch, which will enable them to stream/broadcast the big events in the industry. We are likely to see more eSports appearing on broadcast TV and cable too.

As a part of these deals, it is also highly likely that merchandise will become a big part of the industry and that new revenues streams will be found and exploited to the full. All of these things will enable eSports enthusiasts to enjoy more of it on their terms using whatever platforms they have available to them.

Players Will Become Celebrities

As eSports really breaks through into the mainstream, we are undoubtedly going to see the most talented players turned into celebrities in their own right. Their names will become as well known as any traditional sports star or Hollywood celebrities, and they will be able to capitalize on that to make very lucrative careers for themselves.

Casters Will Become Commonplace

Another thing that is likely to happen is that more eSports events will hire professional casters like the announcers and hosts who present and commentate on football or baseball games. This will add an extra level of excitement and watch-ability to eSports events.

Regulation

Once eSports truly reaches the mainstream, it is highly likely that regulation will come into play and there may be some restrictions on what can be broadcast and how events can be run. This is unlikely to really hinder the progress of the sport or the enjoyment of it, however.

The Bottom Line

ESports is not only here to stay; it is set to dominate. Improvements in technology, increased visibility and bigger investments from a range of sources means that the industry is ripe for growth and grow it will. This is excellent news for competitors who will have more opportunities and viewers who are going to have bigger and better access to the best eSports events in the world in coming years.

Max Francisco has been doing digital projects in Brazil and the US for the last 15 years.