Trying to gauge the current value of the complex esports industry isn’t easy. This is why estimations often have such wide margins.
The latest from Superdata asserts that the industry as a whole will be worth over $1.13bn by the end of this year, with $839m of that coming via sponsorship and advertising. In terms of locality, Asia represents the biggest piece of pie at $406m with North America close behind at $396m. Europe is picking up the pace but still some way behind at $298m. This is helped in part due to football clubs such as PSG and Schalke getting involved, and the industry picking up in France via Webedia.
The trend of football clubs in the space isn’t anywhere close to finished too, so Europe should continue to wrestle a healthier slice for itself in coming years.
Just over a quarter of this total value comes from direct revenues such as prize pools from developers and tournament organisers. A huge 74% comes from outside; this is sponsorship from the likes of big hitters such as Visa, Coca Cola, Audi and more. Esports prize pools are up 27% in 2017 year on year, and there’s no reason to suggest the growth into 2018 will be any less with more tournaments and tournament organisers emerging across the globe.
One of the key differences between the Superdata research and that by Newzoo is that the former includes the regulated betting and fantasy industries. Esports betting and fantasy only equated to $57m in this report, but this is a sector which is expected to grow significantly in the near future with Nevada warming to allowing esports betting, casinos exploring multiple options and online bookmakers investing both time and money into perfecting their esports strategies.
Esports Audience Numbers
Another assessment and prediction by Superdata stated that the esports audience would grow to 330 million by 2019, and will reach 258 million by the end of 2017. This is in part due to titles with low barriers to entry such as Rocket League (you can read more about the growth of the Psyonix title here).
Facebook similarly lowers the barrier to entry into esports for would-be fans. The social media giant is investing into the space; it will stream the next Heroes of the Dorm event, and G2 Esports announced a deal which means they’ll put content and games on the platform.
Stephen ‘Snoopeh’ Ellis is of course still leading Facebook’c charge in this area.
So, what of Overwatch? It’s been and remains the title with the greatest potential to crash the top four esports titles party. The Activision Blizzard title has a city based Overwatch League incoming, but we remain largely in the dark as to how this will work and the details of it.
Superdata sees Overwatch as the title with the greatest heavyweight potential, and the fact that it earned $767m in 2016 and, reportedly, has over 25 million total players. This is some feat for a game in late May of the same year.
Esports Insider says: $1.13bn in 2017 and $1.24bn in 2018. These are healthy valuations. We couldn’t agree more about certain titles such as Rocket League expanding the audience and opening up esports to more casual players and viewers. As for Overwatch, the jury is still out and we’ll wait to hear the details of the new league before making a statement.