E-Sports Poised For Big Growth

All the attention paid to sports and sports marketing now could be shifting — sooner than we expect — to electronic gaming and eSports. 

In a new study, Momentum Worldwide finds that gamers expect watching and playing video games will overtake watching and playing traditional sports by 2022.

While the research surveyed 2,600 gamers (who may have a propensity toward video games over traditional sports), research from the general population suggest a third of them expect eSports to move on the same timetable, and 52% think it will overtake traditional sports by 2027.

“Gaming has expanded beyond purely being an entertainment platform, and has moved into a social platform,” says Elena Klau, North America director of strategy and insights at Momentum Worldwide.

Yet games and gaming are not exactly a new platform, Klau acknowledges. The increased interest from marketers is largely stemming from the rise of eSports among more traditional sports leagues, such as the Philadelphia 76ers starting their own eSports team

“It’s really no different than any other passion points; it’s [just this one] has a console and an Internet connection,” Klau says. “Marketers will soon start to realize that events such like [gaming convention] E3 and [competitive platform] League of Legends are very significant for their clients.”

The attitudinal shift toward competitive gaming should also lead to a change in the way marketers perceive gamers themselves, she says. According to the study, nearly 60% of gamers say playing games (often online, with or against peers from all over the world) are a way of connecting with others, and that gaming has improved their quality of life.

They are also influential in the buying decisions of their friends: about half say friends often ask their advice before buying technology and that they are the first point of contact for friends in the market for new technology.

“Even among the general population, they’re observing the trends outside of their tier and are seeing how the world is evolving,” Klau tells Marketing Daily. The agency launched the research after a number of clients began to express interest in gaming and eSports opportunities, she says. 

”Some large partners still have the perception that it’s the same as it was 10 or 15 years ago,” Klau says. “The biggest change is that these games are now connected to the Internet.” 

Other findings: Three-quarters of gamers say the pastime will always be a part of their lives; 53% believe people will spend more time watching and playing games than traditional sports in the next five years, and 35% said they are playing more games as they get older.

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