The Future of Esports and the Effects of COVID-19

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20 years of esports and it is only recently gained mainstream acceptance, transforming from a nerdy niche culture to a central form of entertainment around the world. Esports is no more a subculture, but a full fledged industry in its own rights, attracting over 495 million viewers. In 2020, the average revenue per esports enthusiast will be $4.94, up 2.8% from last year. But what are the effects of COVID-19 on the esports industry and what does the future really entail?

Esports is the fastest growing sector in the gaming industry, filling entire stadiums with thousands of fans watching a multiplayer video gaming competition. Let’s take a look at some of the upcoming trends in esports and the impact of COVID-19.

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PC GAMING

The esports gaming platform with the most success, PC, is superior to other gaming platforms due to the combination of keyboard and mouse. The PC set up has the biggest popularity in esports, making esports gaming titles also likely to be PC based.

MOBILE GAMING

One of the newer esports platforms, Mobile esports has dramatically increased in viewership due to free-to-play titles such as PUBG, Clash Royal, Arena of Valor, Free Fire and Mobile Legends. This type of esport is pioneering in specific parts of the globe including Southeast Asia and Latin America.

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CONSOLE GAMING

Console esports has had the most predictable path with its limited esports titles such as: Call of Duty, FIFA, Super Smash Bros and Halo. We most likely will continue to see these titles dominate the Console esports sector.

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)

VR headsets such as the Facebook Oculus or Vive Focus Plus we will most likely see more of VR in the esports sector as titles establish themselves in the gaming community. The sheer high cost price of this platform is a ground entrance barrier for the big stage, yet we are seeing games such as: Echo Arena, Onward, Space Junkies and Smashbox Arena becoming popular.

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IMPACT OF COVID-19

It is apparent that many events in the esports industry have been either canceled, postponed, or moved to online formats such as the Gamescom 2020. These online formats are a substitution to the offline event including a major content hub for all related brands and influencers. This provides a new opportunity for both sides to engage purely through online content. Even with following years events most likely returning to its original offline style, the online content hub may be a great addition to the usual offline gaming events. It provides a large increase in event exposure and an excellent solution to harboring content on one platform.

New esports market estimations from Newzoo predict an esports revenue of $1,059.3 million in 2020, which will still suggest a growth of over 10% in comparison to 2019. Newzoo forecasted a decrease for merchandise and tickets from $121.7 million to $106.5 million. Media rights and sponsorship forecast have also decreased from $185.4 million to $176.2 million and $636.9 million to $614.9 million.

As the global market has predicted to ripple further with a second COVID-19 outbreak, the forecasted numbers may need to be revised due to the global pandemic. Additionally, these forecasts do not entail the impact of global recession resulting in decreased global economic activity caused by COVID-19.

Nevertheless, esports is continuing to grow and becoming an exciting competitive sports industry with high growth potentials in the upcoming years.