It seems that the continuous growth of the esports industry has only been hastened by COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns and social distancing measures. According to the Fourth Annual Esports Survey Report, esports professionals expect the industry to witness an uptick in private investment in 2022, bringing it closer to traditional sports.
The survey in question was conducted by law firm Foley & Lardner in partnership with the Sports Business Journal and The Esports Observer. In the survey, 430 esports professionals were asked about their sentiments about the future of the esports market, specifically about the potential for future investment.
Almost nine out of 10 respondents (88%) were optimistic, stating they expect investments to increase in the first six months of 2022. The main source of future funding identified by surveyed professionals are private investment funds. This is a departure from previous years when most money flows were expected from traditional sports organisations and athletes.
When asked about the drivers of this expected rise in investment, 61% of respondents said that the continued rise of online streaming platforms is the main factor that will push more investors into the field. Platforms like Twitch only sped up their growth during the pandemic, and they don’t show signs of stopping soon.
Behind streaming platforms, two other factors were identified as most responsible for heightened investor interest in esports. The first one is “COVID-19 friction”, which relates to pretty much all effects the pandemic has had on the world and traditional sports such as lack of in-person events. The second reason is the rising wedge between young people and traditional sports.
However, not everything in the survey was about optimistic expectations from the upcoming period. As esports grow larger and larger, the lack of a central regulatory body becomes more noticeable. As such, 72% of surveyed professionals agreed or somewhat agreed that a central regulatory body is needed. This is a significant jump from the previous year, when 44% of respondents were in favour of a governing body.
All in all, esports seems to be continuing the trajectory of steady, healthy growth. The projected esports revenue for 2022 is $1.8 billion. There are more sponsorships, bigger prize pools, greater public recognition, and even the esports betting market is flourishing. Everything seems to point to a bright future for fans and professionals alike.