The fast global rise of e-sports
E-sport is the first world sport outside of football that is truly global. Is it actually a sport? It is competitive entertainment, involving teams and leagues. The gamers can be viewed as athletes because they train 10 hours per day and live like athletes.
Electronic sports first took off in South Korea about twenty years ago when the government looked to stimulate its reeling economy with heavy investment in IT infrastructure. Super-fast Internet gave rise to the Korean PC Bang (PC rooms): internet cafe's with fast computers where people spend an average of five hours at a time playing computer games. The huge popularity of the Starcraft game was the basis for today’s e-sports phenomenon. Currently there are a range of games available to play competitively online. Riot Games’s League of Legends is currently the most popular, but there is a host of other titles, each with their own subcultures.
Another popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) is Dota 2, based on the same custom game mode, ‘Defense of the Ancients’ as League of Legends. The League of Legends 2016 World Championship had over 43 million unique viewers. Impressively, Dota 2 reached about half of this total, with over 20 million unique viewers and a prize pool of more than $20 million. The last Intel Extreme Masters World Championship tournament in Katowice, Poland, was followed by more than 46 million unique online viewers. Approximately 300 million people worldwide tune in to eSports today, and that number is growing rapidly. By 2020 that number will be closer to 500 million.
Today, as the popularity of eSports continues to grow, media companies such as ESPN and Turner are broadcasting eSports tournaments and competitions. YouTube has started the live streaming channel YouTube Gaming. While huge numbers of people play and watch the games, eSports has not yet attained universal popularity, but remains a subculture activity. FIFA 18 is the most likely online game to achieve the mainstream crossover outside the existing community because it speaks the universal language of sport and is played by a younger generation on their Playstations and Xboxes. Teams like Manchester City, PSG, Monaco and Roma already have their own eSports teams. We will see the virtual and physical worlds influencing each other, shifting from being inspired by the game, to being in the game.
The fact that eSports is global, driven by technology and has a young demographic makes it interesting for companies to get involved. US channels such as Disney XD, ESPN, and NBC are all testing eSports broadcasting, aiming to reach new, younger audiences. The audience demographic is young, passionate, male-dominated, and digital-first. Some say viewership is 85% male, while others estimate 56%. Viewers live online and on social media; they are avid ad-blockers and do not watch traditional TV or respond to conventional advertising. The young audiences are more connected to technology, whether through their phone, computer, game consoles or through virtual reality.
Acer Nitro 5 Spin gamers notebook
Gaming computers tend have a certain design aesthetic that appeals to the young gaming community. The fan systems, relocated vents to increase in airflow inside the system, influence a large part of the design. Transparent cases expose the internal LED lights, the lines are bulky, cases plastic and cheap looking. Screens are set up next to each other, extra wide or curved. Dominant colours are black, red and blue and some rainbow LED effects. Ugly? Maybe, but gamers think it is cool and would never choose a practical aluminium sleek laptop to play their games, it is part of the scene. The eighties aesthetics makes the generation gap crystal clear. As gaming matures, millennials may demand a cleaner design, a more grown up aesthetic that still looks cool.
Gesture control E-skin clothing that sends data to your PC real time. Gaming and creating with human motion data. AR and VR represent large areas of opportunity. Whether gamers identify as hardcore or casual, the adoption of the technology is growing. In AR and VR, you’re not just playing the game, you are in it.
Esports is estimated to reach 589 million viewers globally, making it an attractive investment and an opportunity to connect your name as a sponsor, giving you access to a young audience that is beyond the reach of traditional media.
The growing popularity will drive sales and demand for home gaming set-ups that are fast and look cool. Ensuring a seamless gaming experience, devices for fast on-the-go gaming with good graphics will also experience a rise in demand.
As we see in much of our research, mixed reality, the linking up of the virtual to the physical world is an interesting aspect. Think what implications this can have for your brand; could your activities be translated into a virtual version? Or could your virtual achievements and creations exist in the real world? This bridging of the virtual and real worlds opens up possibilities and creates steps towards a future where we will move away from the screen.