The burgeoning billion-dollar industry of eSports

Posted: 5:00 PM, Sep 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-26 19:39:56Z

(KGTV) eSports: It’s not a typo for traditional sports. eSports is the coverall term for the competitive video gaming world and it’s exploding into a massive billion-dollar industry.

Live events and streaming services have rapidly expanded the popularity of eSports and it’s still growing. Gaming has millions of fans and its marquee players earn millions of dollars from winning competitions along with endorsement deals.

Fortnite, Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Minecraft and Madden are the some of the names of games gamers can’t stop playing.

Consumers in the United States spent more than 36 billion on video games alone last year and it’s expected by the year 2021 that video games will outgross traditional sports.

“It’s got a major trajectory this year, in the next three years...$180.1 billion,” said Gayle Dickie, the CEO of Gamer World News. “So I think it’s fair to say I think it’s an exciting time for eSports professional competitive and casual gaming.”

Gamer World News is something like the ESPN of eSports, but Dickie said that’s as far as she wants the comparison to go.

“We didn’t want to do your daddy’s ESPN,” said Dickie. “No offense to ESPN; that’s not what we wanted to do.”

Dickie's staff of on-air reporters, editors and producers provide seemingly endless information about all things eSports to gamers.

“It’s not some kid playing video games in his basement anymore,” said Dickie, “I think we’re moving past that and this is definitely the year of the eSports.”

From professional gaming leagues to gamers live streaming themselves playing at home, people are watching them in banner numbers. Consequently, gamers are cashing in on the phenomenon. 

Gamer and YouTuber DanTDM earned $16.5 million last year playing Minecraft in 2017. During his tour, he played four sold-out nights in a row at the Sydney Opera House.

“You can monetize; anybody can,” said Dickie. ”I just heard about a kid today at 16 years old that’s probably on point to make $150-200,000 this year.”

Dickie said gaming has come a long way since the stigma it had when video games first became popular.

“I think that once upon a time it was ‘get out of the street and come in the house now’ to ‘get out of the house,’” said Dickie. “It kind of flipped itself, so you have to pay attention how much time you’re putting into it. For young kids especially, it’s two or three or four hours. I don’t think it’s a problem." 

A Dutch study reported gaming benefits ADHD patients by helping them focus for several hours at a time. With eSports being an entirely digital world, everybody plays on the same plane, girls and boys alike.

“It’s really coming down to around a 50/50 atmosphere,” said Dickie. “A girl is as good skill-based as a guy; it’s not a physically limiting sport.”

At the University of California San Diego, some of the brightest kids in the country are hitting the sticks or keyboards when they’re not in class.

“Every time I play, people get really surprised like 'wait is that a girl or a 14-year-old boy,'” said Christine Fan, a member of the Triton Gaming gaming at UCSD.

More than 1,100 universities and colleges across the country have eSports teams.

“There’s a lot of us becoming more visible,” said Timbre Webb, who works for a gaming development company. “Gamer girls have always been here but not so visible, not so talked about, but that's changing.”

Online data gathering firm Statista says women make up 45% of the gaming population.

Dickie and her team are crafting ways to expand and capitalize off the ladies taking part in eSports, but she’s never been busier trying to keep up with the demand.

“It will be the largest sports entertainment vertical in the world,” said Dickie. "[eSports] is going to show its true colors when it outperforms the NFL.”

Dickie said she’s working for the future and looking ahead to Paris 2024 where it’s expected that eSports will be included in the Summer Olympics.

“I think at that point,” said Dickie, “everybody’s going to know what this industry is about.”