For a while now, there has been debate about whether the Olympics should embrace the technological revolution and include eSports in its program. In 2019, this was already clarified by a statement from the International Olympics Committee. According to them, the only way to consider competitive gaming as a sporting activity is if a balance is found between gamers and a healthy lifestyle. Once AR and VR games take over and players won’t be just sitting down in front of a screen, the Summit will rethink its stance.
The rise of eSports tournaments has been dramatic, and many events host sold-out crowds. In China, League of Legends is considered to be a cultural phenomenon, and Riot Games’ League of Legends World Championship is one of the most awaited events.
This year’s final took place in Shanghai and more than 3.2 million people in China alone signed up for the competition. The scale of the event was colossal, with sponsors that include Mercedes-Benz, Louis Vuitton, Red Bull, Mastercard, and Spotify, and a viewership of 3.8 million at its peak.
While these tournaments are pretty popular in countries such as the US, China, Korea, or France, it is also steadily growing in others. For example, in Japan, the government has started looking into ways to use eSports to boost its economy. In 2019, the revenue coming from this market stood at more than $56 million.
The potential of eSports has also been noticed by online casino operators, as many have started integrating eSports into their online odds offerings. On websites like CasinoWings, for example, players can see all the region-friendly operators, together with the types of games, sporting event odds, and the bonuses available. This niche market is rapidly growing in demand, climbing towards the top of the entertainment industry, thus illustrating the simultaneous growth of eSports.
A Peek Into the Future
The rapidly growing phenomenon of eSports has generated revenues of $776.4 million in 2018, a figure that is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2023. Betting, tournaments, and advertising are three of the main revenue generators. The numbers come as no surprise considering how much the young generation is engaging with this market.
The potential eSports has to attract younger audiences has been noticed by Intel. The tech company was going to organize an eSports tournament ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics. With the Olympics dropping in ratings, ideas on how to boost viewership, and therefore advertising revenues, are being brought to the table.
Another important step that was taken in this direction is the inclusion of demonstration eSports events to the 2024 Summer Olympics. There will be online versions of individual sports, in which gamers can compete against athletes on the field. Organizations such as World Sailing, National Basketball Association, and English Premier League have joined the eSports wagon and have started coming up with proposals on how to combine the two. Previously, the 2022 Asian Games have announced competitive video gaming as a medal event.
From a financial perspective, making eSports part of the Olympics would make a lot of sense. However, there are many issues that still need to be addressed before proceeding with this. The Olympics promote a healthy, active lifestyle, which needs to be integrated into gaming as well. This, together with the other concerns mentioned above, need to be resolved before eSports can be associated with the Olympic Games.
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