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$5 Billion Esports Boom Will Benefit Big Publishers, Slaughter Indies

Last Updated September 23, 2020 12:53 PM
Jasmine Henry
Last Updated September 23, 2020 12:53 PM

By CCN.com: A new report by technology analyst firm Rethink Technology Research suggests that esports will be bringing in revenues of more than $5 billion a year by 2024. Esports revenue brought in an estimated $800 million in 2018, but this could grow to $5.05 billion by 2024, a meteoric rise that Rethink pins on the growing number of “esports enthusiasts.”

In 2018, there were around 154 million esports fans, but this will more than double to 377 million fans by 2024. The group also says that there is “rising revenue per fan” as each of those esports supporters spends more on popular esports games, tickets to esports events, merchandise, and tipping esports players who stream the game.

Major Sponsors Spend

The figure is also made up of media broadcasting rights, as cable channels such as ESPN and TBS have aired tournaments on television. Rethink calls media broadcasting fees the fastest growing esports revenue sector, with sales set to multiply by more than 12 times. Game developers and publishers make money from sponsorships and advertising too, with major brands from Kellogg’s to Coca-Cola and from Toyota to Mercedes Benz all paying big bucks to get in front of the lucrative but hard to reach demographics of technology-loving young people.

The report says that esports bettings revenues will rise as well, though this is not added to the revenue figure. In its summary of the report, Rethink writes:

“Globally we predict esports betting revenues will increase to $5.7 billion over the forecast period driven, by Asia Pacific with China as the biggest market.”

The figures paint a rosy picture for the esports industry, but that $5 billion isn’t something that all developers will be able to break off a chunk of. Huge esports growth will come from China, South Korea, and other countries in the Asia Pacific region which all presents major challenges for smaller, independent developers. To release a game in China, you need the proper licenses which can only be acquired by Chinese-owned companies or by partnering with a Chinese firm if you’re internationally owned.

Indies may also have difficulty competing as they lack the funds to help build their game’s esports presence. The most entertaining MOBA may still find it difficult to get professional players when placed next to League of Legends and its marketing budget or Epic Games and the record-breaking prize pots it can offer for events such as the Fortnite World Cup. Major publishers, however, with the clout, the funds, and the connections are likely to make bank.