- The fourth esports survey report by Foley has detailed esports’ biggest opportunities and biggest concerns according to specialists
- Although esports’ popularity has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic, there are still some pitfalls along the way
- Esports’ biggest opportunities lie in attracting investors and growing its own betting market
The fourth esports survey report by Foley & Lardner LLP, Sports Business Journal, and The Esports Observer has detailed what industry specialists’ attitudes are.
Esports Continue to Grow and Seek Monetization
Esports is a new global phenomenon, attracting people from all backgrounds. Since the beginning of the pandemic, esports and esports betting have seen unprecedented growth. With more people watching competitive gaming each year, analysts have been closely following the scene. Foley & Lardner LLP, Sports Business Journal, and The Esports Observer launched a new esports survey to better understand how the sector develops.
The survey notes that esports investments will likely increase in 2022. Analysts have predicted that by the end of the year, the esports scene will get as much as $1.8 billion in revenues, making it highly appealing to investors. However, Bobby Sharma from Foley noted that the monetization capabilities of esports have not been unfolded to their full extent and the scene is still figuring some things out. Still, a Newzoo survey shows that the average esports revenues might reach $2.47 per fan in 2023, which is a favorable number.
Currently, people believe that the main drive for investments will come from esports’ increased online presence. According to a survey, 61% of people believe that professional streaming will continue to grow and attract new people. 47% of the respondents also believe that the decline of traditional sports and the rise of the web following the COVID-19 quarantine will also stack up and improve interest in esports. Another 43% believe that since deals between traditional sports firms and esports bodies are becoming more common, that is also going to drive interest. 39% think that advertisements are going to play a part in the growth of esports investments and 32% think that big brands that sponsor esports organizations are going to appeal to investors.
NFTs and Esports Betting to Benefit Esports
Taking a look into the opportunities of esports for betting here is what the survey respondents think the most significant factors are:
More than half of the people (54%) think that the natively digital media consumption platforms provide the biggest opportunities for esports’ betting growth. Additionally, 52% consider that the rise of gambling as a whole in the USA will favor the esports betting industry. The international nature of esports communities will also benefit esports betting, according to 48% – after all, the esports enthusiasts are expected to increase by 50 million people by 2024 (from 234 million to 285 million). Lastly, 43% believe that the common future of esports and cryptocurrencies will play a role in esports rising as a betting discipline.
Speaking of NFTs, the new trend is expected to revolutionize the esports market. People are seeing play-to-earn games pop up as blockchain technology allows players to earn NFTs and cryptocurrencies by playing. This potential is still largely unexplored and controversial but some big brands are taking NFTs into consideration, sometimes to the dismay of their customer base.
Despite the controversial nature of NFTs, 4 out of 5 publishers are sure that NFTs’ presence will continue increasing. 64% believe that the non-fungible tokens’ potential of creating digital player cards of esports athletes and streamers will play a part in the popularization of NFTs. 54% think that NFTs will grow as a means to provide players with unique skins, emotes and voice lines or songs. 51% think that esports organizations releasing their own NFT sets will attract customers and 44% believe that NFTs that contain highlights from tournaments will drive interest.
Cybersecurity and Legal Integrity Remain Esports’ Biggest Concerns
Yet, even when faced with so many opportunities to grow esports still meets some hurdles. Cyberspace has been something that people have been mistrusting, especially considering how many people have been exploiting it through hacks, DDoS and ransomware attacks. Furthermore, match-fixing has been commonplace, sparking concerns for the integrity of events and the esports betting market.
Because of these concerns, 72% of the esports executives think that the creation of a regulatory body might be a good step for the esports market – one such organization will additionally make esports more attractive to investors. The Esports Integrity Commission is one such body but it’s yet to have a decisive amount of control.
People are more and more convinced that a regulatory body is needed, especially if esports is to grab the opportunities of the betting market. For example, in 2020 41% of esports CEOs believed that no such body is needed. Currently, the number of people sharing this sentiment has dropped to 16%.
Here is what the main concerns of the survey respondents are in relation to the legal risks esports is facing:
42% fear that malware attacks that damage the digital data of athletes and/or fans are the biggest danger to esports. Another 40% are concerned with intellectual property rights and licensing issues. 38% think that cyberbullying is a huge danger as it often discourages athletes from competing. This is especially prevalent among teams whose performance declines and the female esports players. 36% fear that some of the harm will come from dishonest organizations that overwork their players and/or don’t care for them enough. 35% think that there will be issues relating to the players’ employment. 33% of the respondents think that the lack of diversity may lead to lawsuits that can shake the stability of esports. 32% fear that illegal esports gambling will become way too prevalent and will export some of the esports money to the black market. Finally, 22% of the survey respondents believe antitrust actions with regard to mobile app stores will have a harmful effect on esports publishers and developers.
With fears of legal hurdles also comes a fear of government action. The esports report reminded that despite China being one of the largest producers of esports games and having one of the biggest esports audiences worldwide, its government is heavily cracking down on gaming as a whole, prohibiting minors from playing for more than three hours a week.
The concerns are numerous and all of them have a chance of impacting the global esports scene and slowing down its growth. Losing investors’ trust and failure to establish itself in gambling can set esports back months or even years behind. Luckily, despite the many bumps along the way, the esports scene has been steadily progressing and is continuing to do so to this day.