Cities are building stadiums dedicated to it, colleges are offering scholarships to elite players and entire leagues are forming – the esports industry is quickly becoming big business.
For those less familiar with the sport, here is a brief glimpse at how it started, how quickly it’s growing and the direction it’s heading in the future.
History of Esports
Competitive gaming isn’t a new thing. As long as video games have been around, we’ve also had competitions. Atari sponsored the Space Invaders championship in 1980 and more than 10,000 people participated across the country. There were television shows that pitted kids and teens against each other in randomly chosen video games, and there were movies, like 1989’s The Wizard, that told stories of highly organized competitions.
As the 1980s turned into the 1990s, better technology meant we got better at-home gaming systems and competitions like the Nintendo World Championships in 1990 and again in 1994. The rise of the internet connected these at-home gamers in ways that weren’t possible before and allowed for connected gaming experiences.
The 90s also introduced a new style of games; head-to-head competition. Fighting games and multiplayer shooting games like Street Fighter and Doom made it possible for players to interact directly with each other as opposed to relying on high scores to determine the winner of these tournaments.
Then in the early 2000s, the Korean government took gaming competitions to a new level with its creation of the Korean e-Sports Association. But, it wasn’t until streaming services like Twitch emerged that esports really took off worldwide. Twitch accommodated the growing interest in watching video game competitions from where ever you were. Esports tournaments went from regional events to something that was global. This led to professional esports leagues, esports scholarships and even players being recognized as professional athletes.
Esports Market Continues to Grow
In 2019, the esports market is expected to pass the $1 billion mark for the first time, and by 2022 it’s projected to be nearly double that. Most of that money–more than half–comes from sponsorships and the sales of media rights.
For players, being a professional eAthlete can be just as lucrative as playing a physical sport. The best players make in the millions, and money like that will always draw people in trying to figure out how they can get a piece of it – whether that’s actually playing the games, offering support services to players, or teaching potential players how to get involved.
Future of Esports
Analysts don’t expect the growth of esports to slow any time soon. More tournaments, more teams and more leagues are debuting all the time. In fact, many major sports leagues are also investing in esports leagues of their own.
And while the esports audience has traditionally been male, even that’s starting to change, with more and more females joining the ranks of esports fans. Those fans are also getting younger, with more teens joining the base of esports supporters.
Esports Presents Big Opportunity for Camps
Esports are still relatively young. Kids are only now growing up with dreams of being professional esports athletes, getting paid to play video games.
This means there are many opportunities for people who want to get in on the growing esports market. There is still plenty of room for local organizations like camps and classes to get their piece of the esports industry.
You may want to follow in the footsteps of programs like Gamer Camp hosted by Texas A&M University Athletics. After seeing the growth of the industry, the department decided to offer Gamer Camp to 10-15-year-old kids for the first time this summer and saw a lot of great success—including $35,000 in revenue.
“We did a lot of marketing to get it started,” says Rena Frank, athletic camps coordinator at Texas A&M Athletics. “We utilized athletic events to promote it, as well as Facebook advertising and more to get the word out about the program.”
In order to handle registrations and many of their marketing efforts, including targeted emails, the camp turned to ACTIVEWorks Camp & Class Manager.
“Our account manager at ACTIVE, Ross, really fast-tracked implementation and was super helpful,” Frank says.
And after seeing this year’s success, Texas A&M has already decided to expand the program into more sessions next summer and already have 13 campers coming back!
“My advice for other programs wanting to do eSports is to really understand your demographic,” Frank says. “Gamer kids are different, and we focused on providing them a safe place to come and play.”
With online registration and real-time reporting, ACTIVE’s Camp & Class Manager can help you better understand your demographics. The platform can help you expand into a new market easily and will grow with you, year after year. ACTIVE also offers world-class digital marketing services to help you reach the right audiences and drive revenue.
To learn more about how ACTIVE Network can help esports camps and programs to thrive with online registrations, marketing services and more, click here.