If you aren’t invested in esports yet, you still have time to join one of the biggest booms of the decade before the train leaves the station.
Don’t be fooled into viewing esports as a passing fad. Gamers have been playing together for decades. When the internet arrived, they gathered in online communities, but they didn’t have the speed necessary to game together or livestream their abilities. YouTube and Twitch rode the wave of increased speeds and access to bring players together, and when smartphones turned an entire generation into gamers, the rise of esports became inevitable.
Esports will undoubtedly continue to grow, but that growth may not take the shape industry outsiders expect. Before you make your first investment in esports, keep these five trends in mind:
1. Gambling may be bigger than gaming
Increased gambling means increased opportunities for investors in spaces adjacent to the central excitement of esports. Game lovers and gamblers need marketplaces, bookmakers, and advice sites to scratch the esports wager itch. These businesses might not feel like esports-focused investments, but they will benefit from the industry’s rise all the same.
2. Legislators will weigh in
Esports is a little too old to be brand new, but legislators still haven’t caught up with the needs of the new market. Two areas will see increased legislative influence over the next year: gambling and classifications.
3. Virtual reality’s influence will grow
Most of the esports scene today focuses on popular PC titles, like Dota 2, League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Fortnite. None of those titles champion VR, but as virtual reality technologies improve, the VR esports scene will grow alongside the tools that make competition possible.
4. Informal play will maintain a strong hold
That figure should not indicate that esports only owns a small part of the gaming market, though. Esports stars get plenty of views on their own channels outside of formal competitions, which accounts for a massive chunk of the remaining viewing percentage. Investors looking to jump into the esports scene must remember that the bright lights of stadiums are not the only places where fans congregate.
5. Esports demographics will expand
Deloitte’s research found that people who consider themselves gamers love esports regardless of gender or age. More than 40% of Gen X gamers watch esports weekly, as do nearly 30% of women gamers. Games cast a wide net, and the people who are hooked on their favorite titles are eager to see where the industry goes next.
Some of these trends will manifest in obvious ways this year, while others may take more time to develop. Investors should not view esports as an opportunity for a quick buck but as a long-term play with enormous potential. Ten years from now, those who invested in esports early will be glad they got in when they did.