Monday, October 16, 2017

eSports Is On The Rise

Last night I started to read about something new to me but not new in general. eSports. Kids and many of today's adults play video games. (I say "today's adults" because they are the generation that pioneered gaming systems 30-40 years ago.) And in the recent years, the video-gaming industry has turned what was once friendly competition into a money-making, competitive, league-forming battlefield.

Players are now considered "professional" depending on their "skill" level at beating their enemies or completing tasks / levels. And there are many, many players out there. So many, in fact, that tournaments are organized and bring hundreds if not thousands of players. But most significantly, the events bring spectators, enthusiasts, amateurs, and others to watch the fast-paced motion graphics on big screens in arena-sized locations. We're talking about millions of people involved here. eSports are taking on a life very similar to real life physical sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, etc.).

And the prize money is not insignificant. This is a link to the Top 100 games with the most prize money awarded over time. Clearly, there's plenty of cash to motivate players to improve their gaming abilities to be good enough to compete.

I suppose it's no real surprise that the money is there. I mean simple investment strategy tells us that you have to put money in to get money out. That is, you have to buy the equipment (games, consoles, controllers, graphics cards, microphones, headsets, etc.) to put in the time and practice, and once you've achieved that certain player level, you might reap the rewards monetarily. How good you are determines your Return On Investment (ROI).

But now that there are established tournaments all over the world and the frequency with which they happen is often, the idea of creating leagues and teams for profit must have been tugging at the purse-strings of investment related mindsets. It was just a matter of figuring out how to monetize the industry. And now it's been done.

The industry has been growing for the past couple of years already. Expectations are for the size and wealth of the players, investors, gaming designers, software companies, hardware manufacturers, and all the other peripheral positions is growing exponentially. Actual franchise teams are investing in their eSports teams. Even celebrities are getting in on the action. And it clearly makes sense. The investment is relatively cheap, the target market is growing (in population), and the returns are proven.

The target market grows in so many ways too. You have the gamers and spectators on the high side of the age range who continue to age (obviously) but with that comes more disposable income. And since they're already locked into the mindset, it's natural to continue to support something they've "grown" with. On the other side of the spectrum are the kids who are entering the gaming age. We know that there are millions of kids born each each. That just means the chances of developing a fan, a gamer, or an investor in the future is pretty good.

And technology is constantly improving. We're getting better computers, improved graphics, and faster internet everyday. The world is becoming smaller, faster, and more capable all the time. This all makes the gaming industry that much more capable of supporting the inevitable gold-rush-like boom that will continue for the next few years.

I'm very interested to see where this goes, both in the short term and the long term. As one of today's adults, it will be one of those things that we'll look back on and say, "I was around and conscious of it all when this movement started." And my hope is that I too can get in on the action in the near future and make a future for myself with that. Anyone want to take a risk too? (641)

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