eSports: Macro vs. MicroSeptember 25, 2019
By: Mariano Roy, eSports Analyst
eSports is currently one of the highest growing markets in the world: But let’s focus on the United States. On September 1st, 2019, CNBC reports that “investors should pay attention to esports,” arguing that it can climb from the depths of geek culture.
Competitive gaming, obviously, isn’t a relatively new phenomenon. The level of competition has neither grown in quantity nor quality. One could make the argument that competitive games have gotten easier and more scarce. So, why is eSports now opening up into popular culture? With the esports audience reaching around 400 million people last year, analysts have come to realize that this new form of competitive entertainment has revealed “economic power.”
Now, why has this economic power just been revealed? Where was it for the past 20 years? Culture continuously shifts. When it inevitably molds into what we know as “popular culture,” it is recognized as such. What is popular can be viewed as unpopular, because seeking popularity means to seek approval of the masses. To be a part of geek culture means that you have no interest in pop culture, which is a paradoxically popular trait. A geek isn’t a geek because they do geeky things, they’re geeks because they can’t stop doing geeky things.
Now that pop culture is becoming oversaturated, people are looking for niche forms of entertainment. This is where eSports comes in. In the United States, eSports has been kept quiet for several reasons. One important reason is that the top 30 highest earning eSports players came from outside the U.S, according to analysts. Even within North America, the best players make a very small amount compared to professional athletes. However, this could be changing with gaming’s growing popularity.
Needham analysts have gathered that 33% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 spend more than an hour playing video games around the world. From that audience comes inevitable curiosity for the upper limits of those games. How well can they be played? How did others react to a section of the game that made them react? These are questions that are currently driving eSports’ 63 million viewers to compete with the National Basketball Association (NBA.)
These numbers are growing and the prize pools within these competitions are expected to grow by 25% this year. While the numbers point to this clearly not being a fad, there is a solid barrier that keeps eSports in the distance of true pop culture. When competitive gaming will be an immersive section of entertainment in America is uncertain, however, it will.