By now, I don’t need to tell anyone just how huge the eSports phenomenon has become in recent years. Thanks to that oft-used term “millennials” and the gaming industry’s recognition of changing player behaviour through the generations, eSports has become a key focus for operators across the globe as they try to tap into this enormous market.
Yet even as our understanding of eSports grows, it still has the capacity to surprise. A few years ago I interviewed the Chief Gaming Officer of professional eSports team Fnatic, who suggested it was only a matter of time before leading teams would match the best clubs in England’s Premier League for social media followers. In terms of viewership, the 2013 League of Legends final captured the world’s attention when it attracted 36 million global viewers – more than all but the largest televised sporting events. No wonder some of the world’s biggest sporting franchises – from footballing giants Manchester City and Paris St German to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers – have since purchased eSports teams of their own. What better way to reach such a massive global audience?
Likewise, it wasn’t so long ago that gaming industry conferences would slot in one short eSports panel to address the issue. Today alone the MGS Summit boasts eight different sessions dedicated solely to eSports. How many will we see in another five years’ time?