What are eSports

eSports are a global social phenomenon that is becoming increasingly important. Today, electronic games are a fundamental part of the culture of young people… and not-so-young people.

  • Do you know what they are?
  • Do you know how your company can take advantage of them?
  • That’s what today’s article is about

What are eSports?

The term eSports was born at the end of the 90s, but perhaps one of the key moments for this type of sports was the year 1999. Mat Bettington, in a press release from the Online Gamer Association (OGA), compared eSports to traditional sports.

What is an eSport?

Simple answer: video games. As simple as that, eSports are online video game competitions.

As with traditional sports there are many levels, from amateur to professional, where there are also sponsors, salaries and even cases of doping.

While the question of whether or not they are a sport remains the big topic of debate (the International Olympic Committee already treats it as a “sporting activity”), what is clear is that it is a social phenomenon whose roof is incalculable.

Depending on the culture, we can say that eSports had a different explosion in every part of the world. In the US and Europe, the phenomenon starts with the so-called shooter (first person shooting games) such as Doom (1993) and Quake (1996).

It was then when they began to create the so-called “teams”, appearing some semi-professional leagues of online games such as Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), which is still celebrated today. Until then, everything revolved around Quake, but the Valve company improved Half-Life and created Counter Strike, one of the games that is still king of kings.

In Asian culture, the eSports phenomenon had its germ in Korea.

In Korea, in the mid-1990s, the use of a large part of broadband was restricted, a gap that had to be filled with TV programmes and video games. However, in the East, shooters did not triumph (with exceptions such as Real Time Strategy Games -1998-), but multiplayer role-players such as Lineage (1998).

Koreans have always dominated the multi-user strategy and role-playing game market with such well-known firms as StartCraft (1998) or its predecessor, WarCraft (1994).

Importance of eSports worldwide

It’s a fact: electronic sports are booming. In its Newzoo Global Growth of eSports Report 2016, Nielsen forecasts that electronic sports will grow by 231% in 2019, rising from 373 million euros globally in 2016 to 865 million euros next year.

The differences by country are still very noticeable, with regions such as South Korea and Japan a long way from what moves the sector in European countries, such as Spain.

But what are the sector’s sources of income?

Fundamentally, three:

  • Direct advertising (ads and sponsorships will account for 77% of the 694 million euros that brands will invest in promoting eSports).
  • Licensing and media rights (161 million)
  • And finally ticket sales (96 million).

In line with the above, Jurre Pannekeet, Newzoo analyst, expects this industry to reach $1.4 billion by 2020. Even, adventure that will grow even more the global audience. For Pannekeet, 2018 will be fundamental to know at what pace electronic sports will grow as a business.

Finally, Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo, assures that the phenomenon of consumption in electronic sports continues to grow. Little by little, as a business, eSports are entering a stage of maturity, with large investments, new sponsorship budgets and infrastructure for the leagues, and greater media coverage.

Likewise, Warman himself states that player salaries are much higher than a few years ago, but that the entire eSports ecosystem still depends on elite teams or game franchises.

Growth of eSports in Spain

In Spain, the growth of eSports goes hand in hand with Movistar: a year ago the multinational introduced video game competitions in Spain with the creation of a thematic channel, while launching into the pool presenting its own equipment for this type of sports and reached an agreement with the sports newspaper As to offer greater coverage of this exploding phenomenon, with exclusive content to its customers.

Spain was positioned as one of the European countries with the greatest pull with 24.1 million players and almost 9% of the population following the championships, according to data from the agency Newzoo. The agreement between Movistar Esports and As will help, even more, electronic sports with the common goal of turning them into a mass sport.

In Spain, the biggest organizer of tournaments is the Professional Video Game League. In 2016 it was bought by Mediapro. Although its Superliga Orange streams are still below expectations, the recent additions of LaLiga and FC Barcelona have breathed new life into the sector.

Profile of amateur and professional eSports

One of the big differences in eSports is found in the profiles. We know that playing is not the same as watching, but in our country 90% of the audience is interested in both. It is important to point out that any video game cannot be considered eSports: if it is not possible to understand everything that is happening in the game, it cannot be considered eSport.

Spain has a potential audience of 3.7 million people, and after a study carried out by ESL and Movistar, we can say that the average consumer profile of this type of video game is a 24-year-old man, a fan of social networks and who spends more than five hours a day surfing the Internet.

97% of eSports players are men, only 3% are women.

It should be noted that the average age of these players has risen two years over the previous study, and is now at an average of 24.

The range of players between 20 and 24 years of age remains stable, while the age range between 25 and 34 years of age has increased by 7%. The main reason for this phenomenon is that the video game industry is evolving hand in hand with consumers.

In recent years, the use of the mobile device to consume eSports has increased a lot. However, it is the computer that imposes itself and with difference on the rest of devices. This is because the video games preferred by the audience, such as Counter Strike, LOL or Overwatch, are played from gaming PCs.

Three out of four interviewed for this study state that they use both Twitch and Youtube to follow the competitions, and that the favourite social network to comment on is Twitter. In this social network they talk about players, matches, leagues, if a video game could reach eSport or not, if the eSports would have to be Olympic or not… Everything is the object of debate.

Advertising in eSports

Do you have a company and you want to bet on eSports? There are many reasons to jump in the pool and incorporate eSports into your advertising strategy.

  • As we said before, according to Newzoo, related events generate 900 million dollars annually, although each year this number grows exponentially. It seems that eSports have no limits.
  • The current potential audience for this type of sport is 250 million spectators. The wonderful thing is that in 2020 this number will reach 400 million.
  • The League of Legends finals are just as consecutive as the NBA finals. Can you imagine having that reach?
  • This advertising is focused on both virtual and face-to-face events attended by thousands of people.
  • There are more and more investment options in eSports. Everything evolves and everything grows, for sure you will find your perfect niche.
  • And finally, the investment has very little risk due to the dizzying pace at which this industry grows.

As we have said before, the audience is international, difficult to predict, young, male and high income. Their lifestyles favour a low persuasive capacity of advertising in traditional media. They show a great interest in technology, music, cinema, internet…

And they have a more positive attitude than the rest of the population in the purchase of certain products. Undoubtedly, reaching this public profile is the great reason why to incorporate advertising in eSports.

According to Arena Media’s eSports Report, advertising opportunities go beyond the technology sector. The eSports are not very exquisite and open to any type of sponsor. Technology brands would be the ideal advertiser, but the rest of the brand and sectors also have a great opportunity.