Esports, as an industry, is constantly evolving. From a niche pastime 20 years ago, to a budding form of entertainment in parts of Asia, esports is now a global phenomenon. The British Esports Foundation referenced research by Ovum back in 2017 which predicted esports would be worth $2 billion by 2022. More recent data from Business Insider forecasts industry revenue of $1.53 billion by 2023 and Statista has it at $1.6 billion by 2024. Whatever the true figure turns out to be, the point here is that esports has blossomed in recent years.
As well as teams like Cloud9, FaZe Clan, and Team Liquid making upwards of $30 million a year, investments have been flowing into the industry. On top of this, there’s been a major cultural shift over the last five years. Esports has become mainstream thanks to sponsorship deals and partnerships. Indeed, you only have to look through the list of celebrities and companies backing esports brands to see how popular the industry has become. Drake, for example, is part owner of 100 Thieves. Elsewhere in the industry, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, and Honda have all injected cash into esports and, in turn, made it mainstream.
Betting and Gaming Forge Strong Bonds
Wrapped up within this evolution are growing bonds between betting and esports. What we’ve seen over the last five years is a gradual convergence of the two industries. An obvious example of this is PokerStars. The largest online poker company in the world partnered with Team Liquid in 2016. This relationship was born, in part, out of a trend where famous gamers, such as Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, swapped competitive gaming for poker. The two companies have since run a variety of crossover events and promotions. What’s more, partnerships like this laid the foundations for more free-flowing ideas.
Perhaps a less obvious example of the symbiosis between betting and esports is bonuses. Almost all online casino sites run promotions of one kind or another. Indeed, of all the minimum deposit bonuses reviewed by Bonusfinder UK, you can see that companies like Dr Slot are willing to give new customers free bets, bonus cash, and more. This concept of giving customers more value ties in with the popularity of an online casino. The better the bonuses, the more attention the site tends to get. Video game developers have tapped into this idea in recent years. Look at many of the leading games on the market, such as Overwatch, and you’ll find loot boxes.
Esports Companies Willing to Gamble on Change
These in-game bonuses not only add to players’ overall experiences but contain an element of uncertainty. To put it another way, the value of the reward isn’t set in stone. As such, it’s a form of gambling. Loot boxes have clearly been inspired, at least in some way, by online casino bonuses. Yes, the first loot boxes appeared in 2004, but that’s when online casinos were first making waves. Since then, the betting industry has grown and so too has the prevalence of loot boxes. This suggests there’s some correlation between the two.
Betting has been brought into the fold and, given that this is a multi-billion-dollar industry in its own right, it’s only going to help esports become even more popular.