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Esports Growth Forecast: Just How Big Could This Booming Industry Be in Five Years' Time?
() 05:35 PM CEST - Aug,30 2019

We now inhabit a world in which teenagers can become multimillionaire superstars overnight thanks to their prowess at certain video games. The esports industry has enjoyed astronomical growth over the past five years and it now boasts 454 million fans across the world.

That has attracted a number of large sponsors and pushed prize purses at major tournaments into the stratosphere, allowing more gamers to turn professional and the entire sector to flourish. In 2014, global prize money for every single competitive gaming tournament in the world was just $36 million. This year’s Dota 2 International looks set to offer a similar prize pool by itself.

Several massive esports franchises are now firmly established and they are investing heavily in training facilities for the leading players, while offering them handsome salaries and lucrative bonuses. They are able to do so because esports viewership figures are soaring.

It has gone from a niche underground pursuit to a global phenomenon in a mere five years, so just imagine the heights that competitive gaming will scale within another five years from now. Here are top five predictions for the shape of the esports sector in 2024:

There Will be More Than 1 Billion Esports Fans

There were 250 million esports fans back in 2014 and they were mainly concentrated in South Korea, China and the USA. That figure rose to 335 million in 2017 and enjoyed 17.8% year-on-year growth to hit 395 million in 2018. The experts at NewZoo crunched the numbers and put the total esports audience at 454 million fans in 2019. That includes 201 million diehard esports enthusiasts and 253 million occasional viewers, with more than half of them coming from the Asia-Pacific region.

They expect viewership figures to remain on an upward curve over the next few years, hitting 645 million by 2022. That would represent a compound annual growth rate of 14%, which sounds realistic when you consider how vast esports’ potential is. The sector remains hugely popular in Korea, the US, northern Europe and parts of China, but the potential to expand the fan base in Africa, Latin America and other regions is immense.

Competitive gaming is popular among teenagers and young adults that have grown up with technology. They can often relate to a superstar gamer like Faker, Bugha, s1mple or KuroKy more than a hulking athlete. Technology is improving all the time, developers are releasing increasingly ambitious titles and gaming is becoming the world’s leading entertainment medium. It makes sense that pro gaming will grow in prominence and there could easily be 1 billion esports fans across the globe by 2024.

The Industry Will be Worth $2.5 Billion

The esports industry will surge past the $1 billion barrier for the first time this year thanks to sponsorship deals, advertising, media rights and ticket sales, according to NewZoo. In 2014, it was worth just $194 million, but it has increased by more than 500% since then due to its soaring popularity. The compound annual growth rate is north of 40% and if it maintains its current trajectory it should go past $2.5 billion by 2024.

Cloud gaming and mobile gaming will drive huge growth over the next five years, while the industry is becoming a lot savvier from a commercial standpoint. Merchandising deals, sponsorships and corporate tie-ins are becoming increasingly lucrative.

Developers like Epic Games and Valve will continue to plough money into the sector in order to preserve the future health of their leading titles. Big franchises such as Team Liquid, Cloud9 and Team SoloMid will drive the industry to new heights, backed by traditional sports teams, celebrities, actors, rappers and entrepreneurs.

Esports Will Not Feature at The Olympics

Some esports enthusiasts have been lobbying the International Olympics Committee to include competitive gaming events at the 2024 Olympic Games. They feel it would give the burgeoning scene a huge shot in the arm, broaden its popularity and allow it to permeate the mainstream to an even greater degree.

However, Rahul Sood, the founder of, argues that the IOC needs esports much more than esports needs a place at the Olympics. “The Olympics would include esports to get young people to watch their event, not to get older people to watch our events,” said Sood. “Because of that, the only financial benefit of the Olympics would be exposure to brands somehow unaware of esports, which would help accelerate the inevitable.”

The median viewer age of Rio 2016 Olympics was 53, up from 45 in 2000, and broadcasters reported a huge drop among the 18-34 age group. “It’s extremely unlikely top athletes would choose the Olympics over top esports events,” added Sood. “It’s misguided, or egotistical, of mainstream culture to think the Olympics are somehow a greater honour than The International, Worlds or a CS:GO Major.”

The World’s Top 20 Brands Will Sponsor Esports

MasterCard, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Audi, Red Bull, Nike, BMW, Honda and KFC are among the massive consumer brands that have already backed the esports industry. Marketers understand that the competitive gaming scene offers them a unique opportunity to get their messages across to young, tech-savvy consumers that shun traditional media. They will only continue piling in over the next five years.

By 2024, it is highly likely that the world’s 20 most valuable brands will all sponsor esports in one way or another. The contracts they sign will swell in value, that money will be passed down to the leading stars and their fame and fortune will grow, creating a cycle of boom that guarantees the future health of competitive gaming.

VR and AR Will Play an Important Role in Esports

Esports stars currently use basic hardware like a mouse, keyboard, LED monitor, controller and headset as they bid for glory. They link up online or through a LAN and battle it out as fans stream the action from the comfort of their living rooms. Yet the emergence of virtual reality and augmented reality has the potential to totally change the face of gaming forever.

VR and AR can bring gamers out of their chairs and make attributes like stamina, agility and reflexes more important, while improving the spectacle for viewers. The technology is still at a formative stage, but soon it will make current gaming platforms look positively quaint. By 2024, it will be cheaper and easier for billions of consumers to access exciting devices and wearable technology, improving accessibility and allowing many more people to compete within the emerging esports of the future.

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