Jacob Howard, our Esports Product Manager looks at the future of the esports industry.
What are the next steps for the esports industry to further penetrate more into the mainstream?
esports has already done a fantastic job of becoming more mainstream, but we are yet to see a cultural shift in people’s perceptions of video games as a whole. There is still the perception of esports players just wasting time in their bedroom, but there needs to be that understanding that gaming is a serious hobby and that it forms a key element of the overall entertainment ecosystem.
Large-scale sponsorships and huge prize funds at the biggest events have certainly helped the industry cut through in terms of mainstream news coverage, as did the presence of esports as a pilot event at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
What are your predictions for esports in the US amid the rise in sports betting there?
The esports industry has been huge in the US for a number of years and what will be interesting in terms of betting, as it rolls out from state to state, is seeing the shifts that take place regarding the most popular titles.
We often refer to the ‘big three’ as Counter-Strike, League of Legends and Dota 2, and that is largely based on the regions where betting is regulated. Call of Duty and Rocket League are both big in the US, so we may see an evolution regarding the most popular titles to bet on. That said, betting is of course a revenue driven industry and operators have a natural aversion to taking too many risks, particularly given the high cost of player acquisition in the US. Initially, I expect most operators will follow popular trends and will see what their competitors are offering.
Are there any other trends you think are worth mentioning in esports for 2023 and beyond?
The development of esports racing products will be interesting to look out for this year. Whether that be sim racing or F1 esports, I think they are both emerging markets.
The popularity of the Netflix series Drive to Survive has certainly seen an increased interest in F1 esports. Evidence of this is ESL recently announcing a racing tournament with a $500k prize pool. We have already seen some crossover with young F1 fans and esports fans and how the different forms of content are appealing to their interest in the sport.