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Feb 24, 2022

Esports Market Trends to Know for 2022

by
Tori Stroup

Image courtesy of Pexels.

The esports industry has been around for quite some time and has been gaining traction for many years – but nothing compares to the growth within the last two.

As more people turned to gaming as an outlet to disconnect from their everyday lives and follow social distancing guidelines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry flourished. So much so that companies across all kinds of industries are starting to notice.

It’s an industry that you should be keeping your eye on because there are no signs that its current growth patterns will slow down anytime soon. In fact, 2022 is slated to be the best year yet for the esports industry.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of the esports trends you’ll want to know for 2022, including:

  • The esports industry will see continued growth
  • Esports revenue will continue to rise
  • There will be more advertising opportunities for new companies
  • Esports betting will continue to grow
  • Mobile esports will grow in popularity

Why 2022 Will Be a Big Year for the Esport Market

The esports industry has been growing at a steady rate over the last few years and has taken off since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

When many traditional sports had to cancel events and follow strict social distancing guidelines, esports gave people a safe way to indulge in a competitive sport. Many people turned to their computers and smartphones to pass the time, and the esports industry was there and ready to entertain them.

As the pandemic continues to rage on, more and more people turn to games as a way to disconnect from the world around them and have socially distanced interactions with others. This is one of the main reasons the esports industry has grown so much over the last few years.  

It became an outlet for people and led the industry to exponential growth throughout the pandemic. You can expect to see this growth continue in 2022 as the esports industry continues to thrive and grow, even as people begin to get back to a more normal routine.

The Esports Industry Will See Continued Growth

We’re slowly starting to see small signs of a pre-pandemic world, but that won’t change the trajectory of the growth expected in the esports arena. In fact, in 2022, the esports industry will likely continue to grow and reach more people than ever before.

Over the last two years, the number of people playing video games in America alone has drastically increased from 164 million in 2019 to 227 million in 2021. Of the people who have picked up gaming as a pastime, 90% of them plan to continue playing games even after the pandemic restrictions begin to ease.

Globally, the video game market is expected to grow to over 2.9 billion in 2022. That’s up from the 2.81 billion players actively playing video games in 2021.

The gaming market growth isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Over the last few years, the number of active players has increased year over year and is expected to reach 3 billion by the end of 2023. Image courtesy of FinancesOnline.

Another thing to consider when talking about the growth of the esports industry is the demographic it reaches. Many people think that males and younger demographics primarily play video games – but this isn’t the case anymore.

The average age range of people who are actively playing games is 18 to 34. When it comes to gender, the percentage is split at about 30% women and 70% men. Meaning that the esports arena is no longer primarily male-driven, and many women also use gaming as an outlet.  

Since these audiences are at an age where they are likely to have more disposable income, they’re also more likely to spend money on their hobby – which leads us to the growth in revenue expected for the industry.

Esports Revenue Will Continue to Rise

With the widespread adoption of esports during the pandemic, global esports revenue has increased year over year – and is predicted to hit new highs in 2022. In 2019, the global esports revenue was around $950 million and rose to nearly $1.1 billion in 2020. In 2022, it’s expected that esports will reach approximately $2 billion in revenue.

There are several different ways that the esports industry brings in revenue. Sponsorships are one the most lucrative avenues, but media rights and advertising come in at a close second. Image courtesy of games industry.biz.

A few different revenue streams drive revenue for the esports industry. Let’s take a closer look at just a few of the things that will impact revenue growth in 2022.  

Sponsorships

One of the biggest revenue drivers for the esports industry is sponsorships. Sponsorships can happen at the industry, team, or individual level and bring in substantial revenue gains.

Brands use sponsorships to get their name in front of tournament viewers both in-person and online. When you consider that millions of people are tuning into these events, companies are willing to spend a little extra to have their name heard. Image courtesy of ESTNN.

Similar to traditional sports, sponsorships allow teams to sign with companies that fund their organization. Then in return, the team wears their logo and promotes the brands during tournaments and gameplay to increase visibility.

Another way sponsorships bring in revenue for the esports industry is by sponsoring tournaments and events. These types of sponsorships give the brands high visibility during the production and bring direct revenue into the industry.

In recent years, more companies have been catching on to the power of the esports industry and begun to put additional funding into sponsorships. There have been many brands you wouldn’t traditionally expect to sponsor esports, such as the US Air Force, Kraft Group, BMW, and more.

Sponsorships are an important element in the esports industry, and you can expect to see more brands taking notice each year.

Media Rights

Revenue from media rights is another important factor in the growth of the esports industry.

When a large tournament or event happens, broadcasting and streaming services want to be in on the action. To do this, they must make a deal with organizations to allow their service to stream the event.

Some more significant events can land network deals while others have to settle for streaming services like Twitch – but either way, they’re broadcasting the event and making money off the media rights in the process.

Ticket Sales

Ticket sales from esports tournaments are a huge revenue opportunity. While this might not have been one of the top drivers in the last few years, as things start to ease up and the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, it’s a massive opportunity for the industry.

Some of the biggest live esports events have brought in anywhere from 40,000 to over 100,000 live viewers – but millions of online viewers. That’s a huge opportunity for the industry to tap into online viewership and provide premium packages that increase ticket sales.

Merchandising

Just as in any other industry, merchandising is a crucial revenue-driving tactic.

Teams across all leagues offer merchandise to their fans. These can be jerseys with their team name or other accessories that allow them to support their favorite professional gamers. Image courtesy of One Esports.

Gamers can buy apparel and accessories from their favorite teams and organizations. Many top teams dedicate a large portion of their websites to selling merchandise to help drive revenue.

Another way that esports can drive merchandising sales is by offering in-game purchases. These purchases account for a large share of spending in the video game market, bringing in over 60 million dollars in 2021.

As the space continues to grow, so will the revenue that esports brings. With a number of different ways for players to interact with their favorite players and leagues, industry revenue will only continue to rise in 2022.

There Will Be More Advertising Opportunities for New Companies

The wide-scale growth that has occurred over the last few years has started to bring more eyes to the esports space. More companies are beginning to consider how they can advertise and leverage the dedicated audience that comes with gaming.

Gaming has quickly become bigger than the NFL, NBA, MLB, and the NHL combined, and companies are taking note of that. It’s a space with highly engaged audiences who are tuning in to play games or watch their favorite teams multiple times a week.

That’s why in 2022 and the coming years, this will open a big opportunity for the industry to increase revenue and for brands to reach new, highly engaged audiences.

While there are some big players in the advertising space already, more companies are starting to look at strategic ways to get involved with the esports industry. A few examples of brands that are already thinking out of the box and tapping into the esports industry include KFC, Bumble, Lion Cereals, Lenovo, and more.

It may take some serious creative thinking, but there is space for nearly any company to advertise in the esports space. With a wide demographic that ranges various ages and genders – gaming has become a prime place to reach your target audiences.

Esports Betting Will Continue to Grow

This is another area of the esports industry that started to grow during the lockdowns and social distancing of the pandemic. As traditional sports were put on hold, people could no longer bet on their favorite teams, and gambling sites took note.

As esports started to gain even more traction during this time, gambling and betting began to shift towards tournaments and competitive gaming.

Betting on esports is very similar to any other type of sports betting. Participants will place bets on who they think will win a match or tournament, and they are rewarded when their teams win.

While this is still a growing area, it’s expected that by 2025 it will reach a global value of over $13 billion. This will be an area to watch in the coming years and could become a large part of the esports industry over time.

Mobile Esports Will Grow in Popularity

Most esports were played on either PC or consoles in the past, but that has changed over the last few years. Now, mobile esports have begun to take over, and this trend is only expected to continue into 2022.

Across all popular markets, most players have access to a smartphone, and this opens up the opportunity for them to engage with their mobile esports anywhere, at any time.

The rollout of 5G is another driving factor for the growth of mobile esports. The new cellular technology will strengthen internet connections making it easier and more reliable to use a smartphone to play more complex esports games.

Not only will the adoption of mobile esports make it easier for gamers to pick up their phone and play, but it will also make it just as easy for them to tune into tournaments and events. This could allow even more audiences to tune into events at the click of a button to watch their favorite teams.

Mobile esports presents a huge opportunity to the industry and is a trend you’ll want to watch in the coming months and years.

The Esports Industry Has a Promising Year Ahead

In 2022 the growth in the esports industry will continue to trend upward. As more people turn to video games as a way to disconnect from their daily lives and tune into tournaments to support their favorite teams – the industry will see increased revenue across the board.

With no decline in user engagement, the esports arena will be an important place to keep your eye on in the coming years. Now’s an excellent opportunity for companies across various industries to start getting involved and connect with gamers as they continue to play and interact across the esports world.

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