What to Expect From Esports in 2023
One of the major developments of eSports events in 2022 was the return of fans to live eSports events, following precautionary measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other global developments such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine have also had a major impact on the future of some of the biggest teams in their respective spaces – Natus Vincere of CS:GO esports being one of many.
When FTX, one of the largest crypto firms in the world, went bankrupt last month, it affected TSM, which is one of the largest eSports organizations in the world, signing a 10-year deal with FTX in 2021 of $210 million incurred. .
Developments of this sort will almost certainly affect esports in 2023, showing how the industry no longer operates in isolation. The eSports industry now overlaps with many other major industries. It’s not just big businesses in certain industries that are trying to enter into partnerships or associate themselves with e-sports. Rich countries like Saudi Arabia plan to turn themselves into e-sports hubs by 2030. Esports in 2023 is likely to see greater developments of this kind.
Esports and the global economy
A statistical report claims that eSports will have a global revenue of $1.87 billion by 2025, and another report from the same source claims that it should be valued at $5.74 billion by 2030. If all this comes to fruition, it can be determined that the eSports industry will surely see growth in value and revenue in 2023.
A report of Morgan Stanley states that in 2023, more households will own video game consoles, and an increase in video game consumption will lead to an increase in e-sports activities. The report also says that despite growing recession worries around the world, the video game market is not one that is likely to be affected by such activity. On the other hand, the eSports industry needs its sponsors and funding to continue producing quality events and the participants paying their dues.
This may be something to keep an eye on, with many popular eSports players transitioning from a career in eSports to Twitch streaming. Twitch has broadcast most of the major esports events in recent years and will continue to do so, but esports professionals also use the same platform to move away from esports and into streaming. This remains one of the threats to eSports in the short term.
Chances are, someone else will take the place of those who switch to streaming, and the wheels will keep turning. Another statista report from 2019 suggested this esports viewership on Twitch is set to exceed 2.3 million in 2023. Whatever obstacles get in the way, the esports industry is almost certain to grow in stature.
Growth sectors within Esports
The next year could also be a big year for emerging sectors within the eSports industry. Mobile eSports is one sector that is definitely picking up steam in Southeast Asia. For now, esports is mostly identifiable with traditional games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike:Global Offensive and Dota 2, but this could soon change with mobile esports increasingly becoming one of the mainstream sectors.
Games like Free Fire, Arena of Valor, PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang recently peaked at over one million viewers across many occasions. With so many fans in the eastern part of the world, it’s about time these events get the same kind of funding and marketing that esports popular in the west get. There is clearly a lot of interest in these eSports events.
The other sector that could receive attention is e-sports for women. According to Forbes, about 41% of the gambling population in the US is made up of women. The number is 40-45% in Asia, which accounts for 48% of global gaming revenue. There is a greater caution to be had about the male-led video game and esports industry. The same Forbes article states that 84% of executive positions in the 14 largest global gaming companies are held by men. Even outside the executive positions, only 24% of the positions are held by women.
There is a real chance for eSports to integrate women into the industry in a way that most major sports, other than tennis, have failed to do. According to Natalia Denk, who is a German scientist and gamer, there are several reasons why women are not fully integrated into the eSports scene: missing role models, fear of sexism, gender-specific socialization and non-perception of women as a target group of the gambling industry.
She also suggested that role models, association work, club work, gender competence in journalism and breaking down stereotypes as an educational task should help to overcome the under-representation of women in e-sports.
The Valorant Game Changers event could be a model for other esports to follow, and Riot Games has since decided to create a standalone LoL women’s tournament. It took a while for women’s eSports to really take off, but 2023 should see this sector evolve.
The other major sector is not really a sector, but a country. The e-sports industry has conquered the Americas, China and Europe. India, the second most populous country in the world, is a massive market that could do with a little exploring. Mobile gaming has picked up a bit in India in recent years thanks to cheap 4G access, but there is also room for more traditional esports to grow with a rising middle class, an extremely young population and professional esports competitions emerging takes place within the country.
Blockchains, Web3 and the Metaverse
The now defunct partnership between FTX and TSM shows that blockchain technology has made a breakthrough in the eSports world. Despite FTX’s bankruptcy, there is still widespread belief that cryptocurrencies are going to be the future.
In terms of esports, blockchain technology will help provide new models for generating revenue using tokens and loyalty programs. Sports betting and collectible trading are some of the markets opening up, which in turn will help eSports professionals use revenue sharing agreements. This will be a way for them to crowd fund their performances.
The use of cryptocurrencies in esports will also be part of a larger immersion of esports within the metaverse. The metaverse is a virtual reality where eSports activities can take place, cryptocurrencies can be traded and social engagement can take place.
This is an area that eSports has yet to fully explore, and 2023 could be a good time for the current venture to dig in. This technology will allow e-sports to take place in virtual spaces where there can be greater attendance.
It seems like a natural fit for the eSports world, as eSports matches also take place in a digital world. There may even be a future where audiences are within the digital space controlling these games, but that is unlikely to happen in 2023.
Can the Esports industry transcend its own boundaries?
The eSports industry in 2023 should certainly see greater growth in value and revenue, expand certain sectors and find itself merging with modern technology, but it is unlikely to explode outside of its own bubble. Most major sports don’t often overstep their own boundaries either.
The media also needs to cover this industry as it covers some of the other industries, and it looks like that is starting to happen. There are online courses on sites like Coursera that help individuals start a career in the eSports industry.
Even something like soccer, which is the most popular sport in the world, only becomes a global phenomenon every four years because of the World Cup. In terms of entertainment phenomena, eSports is unlikely to become the force that TikTok became in 2020, Facebook in the late 2000s, or Netflix in the mid-2010s.
That doesn’t mean that business in the esports world won’t trickle down into bigger pop culture phenomena. It may take a few more years for something like this to happen, but even if it doesn’t, chances are good that this industry will grow exponentially in 2023 and beyond.