Get ready to see a lot more gamers than you’re used to in the Olympics. What could once be considered a pipe dream is now an “inevitable” reality. Esports will become a part of the Olympic games, at least according to Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell.
For those who have no connections to the video game world, this might seem extremely far-fetched and a little surprising. I bet those same people would also be surprised to find out that there are 167 million people tuning in and paying to watch other people play video games every month, and these numbers are only expected to keep climbing. By 2022, the esports audience is expected to grow to 276 million people, which is basically the same number of people who watch the NFL.
This explosion in popularity over the past few years has been raking in big bucks for businesses and individuals in the space. Newzoo estimates esports revenues to surpass $900 million this year, and that number is expected to grow to $1.4 billion in just two more years. Gamers can capitalize by broadcasting themselves playing their favorite games online, primarily on YouTube or the streaming site Twitch.
One of these streamers who recently made headlines for raking in huge amounts of cash is Tyler Blevins, better known as “Ninja”. The 26-year old is making over $500,000 a month from streaming himself playing popular games like Epic’s Fortnite. Amazon, which owns Twitch, has claimed they’re able to reach roughly half of the ever-so-valuable millennials through the site.
Video game developers are getting in on the action as well. Activision Blizzard recently created a professional league for Overwatch, a wildly popular team-based first-person shooter. The ownership rights to the first twelve teams were sold to entrepreneurs for $20 million apiece, bringing in almost a quarter of a million dollars to the gaming giant who has plans to expand the league to 28 teams.
Electronic Arts (EA) is taking a different approach, opening up tournaments to the masses and whittling down competitors before a professionally-broadcasted championship round. Their recent FIFA tournament started with 20 million players before the final round of 32, which was held in London’s massive O2 arena and broadcast around the world.
With video game sales expected to reach $145 billion annually by 2020, it’s not hard to see why Logitech’s CEO thinks esports “will be the biggest sport in the world.” Whether or not video games will make their way to the Olympics remains to be seen. But one thing that is clear is that esports are on the come up, and it doesn’t look like that is going to stop anytime soon.