Within the last two decades, esports has become an industry worth over a billion dollars. The players are often celebrities, and the tournaments have screaming fans filling the arena. In fact, sponsors often inject real money into this ecosystem.
While the players may appear to be rock stars, esports skeptics worry that the industry and teams are experiencing a bubble. The same people are profiting from the success. Though enormous investments are going to flame the PR needs and increase valuations, this ultimately lures more investments and keeps the games going. This indicates that the cycle is going to go on, but at some point, everything ends. Invested parties wonder what that means to them.
Generally, esports players are younger and peak sooner. Roughly the ages fall between 17 and 25. Since they’re younger, they’re less mature and may have a brief or nonexistent adult career. Ultimately, publishers own these games. For example, the NBA doesn’t actually own basketball, but Riot does own League of Legends.
While the esports metrics are much different than traditional sports, they are parallel in a variety of ways. In fact, they’re mirrored from traditional sports. Therefore, we could predict the future problems that the esports industry might see. These can include:
For the last few years, an esports player’s union has been considered. As with traditional professional sports, individual teams and players are going to get famous and increase economic and social leverage. There should be a collective unit there to help. Of course, the industry has to continue doing well for these unions to get powerful and big. If esports never takes off, the player’s union isn’t going to, either.
Esports is breeding many stars. Of course, this leads to endorsements for products, but fame at this end of the spectrum can lead to political agendas and movements, as well. You’re sure to see social justice activists on a variety of topics, which are ultimately going to influence esports. For example, recently, Ng Wai Chung (Blitzchung) shouted out slogans supporting Hong Kong during the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament. This is likely to continue and on a grander scale.
Clearly, the ingredients for a scandal are there. Esports players tend to be youthful, and money is at stake. There have already been a few cheating scandals and harassment bans. Also, you can find fraud allegations on certain players. However, most of these issues have remained limited. Still, if esports continues to grow, the potential for large scandals are present. Remember, a lot of people bet on esports, so there is a lot of money at stake.
Though it’s hard to predict the future for anything or anyone, there are sure to be a few rough patches. Esports is likely to continue on and become even more popular. However, it needs to learn the lessons from other, more traditional sports. That way, this promising industry doesn’t fall apart before it even gets started. Though the outcome does remain to be seen, we believe it is sure to continue as long as it stays on track.