Looking ahead: The esports industry predicts 2024

IEM Cologne 2023
IEM Cologne 2023/ Image credit: Helena Kristiansson, ESL Gaming

With 2023 in the back window, all eyes are on what 2024 has to offer in the esports industry.

What are the trials and tribulations that await the esports sector? Will the chilly breeze of the Esports Winter be just as apparent? Plus, which are the esports titles to watch out for this year?

For Esports Insider’s look ahead, we asked a range of prominent industry stakeholders to predict what will happen in 2024. This is part two of our industry series; make sure to also check out what everybody said about 2023.

ESI Lisbon 2024

What are your predictions for the course of the esports industry in 2024?

Nicolas ‘Nico’ Maurer, CEO, Team Vitality: “Next year I think we’ll see a lot of teams be super conservative with their spending. With the reduced investment in many esports titles, we’re now looking at value and spending distribution more realistically. 

“In the past, teams would only look to acquire the best talent which led to intense and expensive bidding wars for the best players. Over time this became so inflated that teams were spending unrealistic amounts just for one or two star players.

“Now we’re seeing teams correct for this by looking at their roster spending in more feasible terms where they spend what they can afford and what the players can generate in revenue.”

Alex Gonzalez, Head of Luminosity, Enthusiast Gaming: “Teams will stabilise throughout Q1/Q2 and begin aiming for growth in Q3/Q4 of 2024. The trajectory of team stabilisation in the initial quarters emphasises strengthening internal structures, player rosters, and operational processes. Followed by a growth-oriented strategy in the latter half, this will mean a dynamic and strategic approach toward sustaining and advancing the esports industry in 2024.”

Craig Levine, Co-CEO, ESL FACEIT Group: “2024 is all about sustainability, with businesses across the esports industry recalibrating themselves for the long term. This year taught many companies that although esports’ core audience is growing, fandom takes time to develop. Businesses have to continue to reposition themselves to take advantage of the long-term outlook of esports rather than banking on the immediate value of the audience.

“Additionally, I expect emerging regions will continue to reshape esports, particularly the Middle East, which has been a large growth market for the video game industry. That’s definitely in part connected to the National Gaming and Esports Strategy that came out from Saudi Arabia and the ambitious investments being made as part of that.”

Miles Yim, Associate Director, The Story Mob: “I predict the industry as a whole will see greater value in promoting tournaments that feature women and marginalised genders. The recent VALORANT Game Changers Championship in São Paulo, Brazil was an incredible success, beating viewership expectations and delivering a compelling product in the heart of one of the world’s most passionate esports markets. The enthusiasm around tournaments like Game Changers signals the growth of a lasting trend, and a hopeful one at that.”

Monica Dinsmore, Senior Director – Esports Brand & Marketing, Electronic Arts (EA): “Esports is an incredibly important engagement tool and, over the past year, we’ve recognized it’s also a powerful reacquisition tool for lapsed players. As such, one of the key trends we’ll see in 2024 is deeper integration between games and esports for a more connected experience for players and fans. We’ll also see continued investment in in-person experiences to foster gaming communities and bring fans together in real life.”

Robbie Douek, CEO, BLAST: “The industry is going to continue to go through consolidated change, where you’ll find certain actors in certain territories and regions taking the lion’s share for parts of business and this should breed a healthier ecosystem, but I do think that you’ll start seeing more actors coming into tier 2 and tier 3 which will make a difference to the overall ecosystem. We will see a growth in the amount of tournaments taking place given that there’s been some success coming back from the pandemic and putting people into LAN events – this will breed some commercial upside.”

Vlad Ispas, Assistant Broadcast Producer, PGL: “We anticipate Counter-Strike 2 will substantially influence the industry in the coming year. CS2 is poised to solidify its position as a cornerstone in the esports realm, seamlessly progressing from its highly successful predecessor, CS:GO.”

What are some of your organisation’s targets for next year?

Esports prize money
Image credit: Shutterstock

2024 is here, and companies now have their sights set on new KPIs. We asked esports companies what their targets are for the coming year, and summarised them below.

Nicolas ‘Nico’ Maurer, CEO, Team Vitality:  To maintain performances in Counter-Strike and Rocket League. This includes looking to win another Counter-Strike Major and Rocket League World Championship. “However, our main focus will be in League of Legends as we aim to return to the World Championship stage which is what we expect of Team Vitality. This doesn’t necessarily mean in 2024 as we’ve planned for long-term development.”

Monica Dinsmore, Senior Director – Esports Brand & Marketing, Electronic Arts (EA): To continue investing in EA’s esports ecosystems. “Our main goal is to continue to invest in the growth of our esports and reach our most engaged players and fans – what we call the ‘white hot centre’ – across our unparalleled portfolio of exciting games.”

Alex Gonzalez, Head of Luminosity, Enthusiast Gaming: To double down on its core titles (Apex Legends, Smash and Rocket League), whilst building a sustainable and profitable business. 

Jaime Pádua, Co-CEO, FURIA: “Keep expanding not only competitively, but also beyond the game as the sociocultural movement FURIA is meant to be.”

Craig Levine, Co-CEO, ESL FACEIT Group: To prioritise the correct avenues for its business and to bring together Vindex and Esports Engine further into the ESL FACEIT Group fold. “The targets next year for ESL FACEIT Group are all about coming together.” 

Robbie Douek, CEO, BLAST: To focus on optimisation and profitability following a year of scaling up and expanding into other ecosystems. Also, continuing to grow with publishers within the ecosystem and delivering for its exciting publishers.

Vlad Ispas, Assistant Broadcast Producer, PGL: To maintain its high production standards by utilising the PGL Major Copenhagen in 2024 as a prime opportunity for to showcase the company. 

Tarik Amhamdi, Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Shikenso Analytics: “We are dedicated to achieving the indisputable position of the top sponsorship data provider in the esports industry, with a strategic focus on expanding into emerging verticals.”

Esports coaching at schools and communities
Image credit: Shutterstock

What do you think the industry needs to work on next year?

Tarik Amhamdi, Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Shikenso Analytics: The industry faces the challenge of articulating its value proposition and economic significance with clarity and precision. Achieving sustainable and substantial growth demands that the entire ecosystem introspectively examines key metrics, data, and facts. The era of glossing over realities is behind us; now is the moment for candidness and straightforwardness.

Miles Yim, Associate Director, The Story Mob: “I’d like to see major entities in the esports industry invest more resources into partnerships with esports programmes at the collegiate and high school levels. I’ve always been surprised that more esports teams don’t jump at the chance to sponsor a school’s computer lab or provide branded gear to a club. Through direct engagement with scholastic clubs, there’s a tremendous (yet mostly underappreciated) opportunity to raise organisational brand awareness and plant the idea of a career path in esports and gaming, all of which helps ensure the future of esports.”

Craig Levine, Co-CEO, ESL FACEIT Group: “The esports industry needs to reshape the engagement model for fandom and unlock new monetisation mechanics. Traditional sports’ business is largely driven by media rights and advertising because it’s a passive experience; in video games and esports, that mechanic needs to be different because younger audiences engage with content differently. 

Nicolas ‘Nico’ Maurer, CEO, Team Vitality: More organisations in the esports industry need to keep on building a profitable and sustainable financial model for the next few years. 

For example, we had to quickly adapt and course correct to protect the organisation in the short term and then later looked at restructuring the organisation’s spending so that we could sustainably continue in this passionate industry.

Jaime Pádua, Co-CEO, FURIA: “It needs to seek more economic stability as a sector. We need to approach our business not only thinking of the future and the investments we might attract, but also looking at our operations right now and making sure they are sustainable and healthy. This way, I believe we will be able to build a long-lasting scene with less volatility while not so dependent on the overall economic scenario and the challenges it may bring.”

Monica Dinsmore, Senior Director – Esports Brand & Marketing, Electronic Arts (EA): There’s always more we can do as an industry to improve diversity and inclusivity in the space. We’ve invested in programs like our Positive Player Award, which aims to combat toxicity and support a more welcoming environment for gamers, and we’ll continue to find ways to champion diversity in 2024.
Vlad Ispas, Assistant Broadcast Producer, PGL: “The industry should explore fresh avenues to enhance cost efficiency and discover improved monetisation models. This proactive approach is essential for the long-term sustainability and growth of businesses. Companies need to position themselves for success in an ever-evolving market by focusing on cost-effective practices and innovative monetisation strategies.”

RLCS Spring Split Major
Image credit: Rocket League Esports

Which esports title do you think will undergo the most development in 2024?

Craig Levine, Co-CEO, ESL FACEIT Group: “I’d keep my eye on Epic Games, both for Rocket League and Fortnite. They’ve just had some exciting new content releases in Fortnite that have reinvigorated their player base, which continues to scale thanks to innovation by developers and users in Unreal Editor for Fortnite. The overall audience growth could help drive attention to the core esports experience as well. 

“As for Rocket League, we’ve already seen that it’s one of the most exciting esports titles out there. It fills arenas everywhere we go, and Epic and Psyonix have built a rabid fan base and incredibly competitive environment. That combination can be powerful combined with the future vision of UEFN.”

Jaime Pádua, Co-CEO, FURIA: “I believe more people share my perceptions on the Dota 2 circuit. Therefore, I’d say that we might see moves regarding the revitalisation of the scene throughout 2024. At least I’d love to see that.”

Vlad Ispas, Assistant Broadcast Producer, PGL: “Counter-Strike 2 is expected to stand out prominently in the gaming industry, and this anticipation is well-founded… The franchise’s established reputation as a powerhouse ensures that Counter-Strike 2 will likely play a significant role in shaping the gaming landscape, building on the solid foundation laid by its predecessors.”

Alex Gonzalez, Head of Luminosity, Enthusiast Gaming: “Rocket League and RLCS are reinventing the structure and convincing esports organisations to stay involved in the scene after the recent exit of a few key brands. In a time when organisations are moving away from certain titles, we look forward to working with developers and organisers to show our commitment to their titles and the future sustainability of their leagues.”

Miles Yim, Associate Director, The Story Mob: “Teamfight Tactics! After a major event like the Vegas Open, Riot Games is clearly serious about putting more resources into developing the TFT esports scene. It’s a good bet — TFT has the potent mix of complexity, ubiquity and replayability that has always defined great esports titles.

Tarik Amhamdi, Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Shikenso Analytics: I believe it will be CS2. Following its launch, initial critiques emerged swiftly from both the professional scene and the community. Despite this, the passionate esports audience has proven resilient, showing minimal impact from the criticisms as the first events unfolded.

Nicolas ‘Nico’ Maurer, CEO, Team Vitality: This is a difficult question as most tier-one esports titles are very rigid and are established esports games which lack opportunities to grow significantly. It would be great to see at a big esports event, such as the Esports World Cup, showcase a tier two or tier three esports title which could reach a wider audience and become very successful off the back of it. 

Tom Daniels
Tom has been part of Esports Insider's team since October 2020 and is currently the platform's Editor. When not playing Football Manager, he enjoys reporting on the mobile esports scene as well as the betting sector.
Jake Nordland
Jake has worked at Esports Insider as a journalist and editor since early 2021. Now ESI's Media Manager, he continues to act as lead editor of print magazine The Esports Journal, and contributes his words to the website from time to time.