• Alexander Preece

Esports expecting to grow, but not without its challenges


Credit: Riot Games

The 3rd Annual Esports Survey conducted by Foley & Lardner LLP and The Esports Observer has just been published. Across the months of September and October 2020, 255 executives from the world of esports were asked to respond to a number of questions to provide their opinions on the current situation of esports and what the future holds for the space. Here were the main takeouts.

Investment growth is expected, but not without its challenges

  • 73% expect greater investment and deal activity in esports over the next six months based on social distancing driving engagement with gaming and esports, the growth of online streaming platforms, and the entrance of more big brands into the space.

  • However, 21% expect that investments will decrease in the short-term, citing challenges around not being able to hold large scale live events, a decline in sponsorships and a nervousness to invest in teams due to the overall uncertainty ahead.

  • Nevertheless the majority of respondents believe new developments in tech will result in more smart advertising, whether that be from data analytics (67%), integration of ads within games and streaming platforms (64%), or advanced behavioural analytics that enable advertisers to better target their ads (63%).

Esports can help pave the way for traditional sports to engage fans

Respondents felt that there were a few ways that traditional sports could learn from esports.

  • 64% said they expect traditional sports to use digital technologies to provide fans with more direct interaction and engagement

  • 54% said they expect them to incorporate new technologies into broadcasts

  • 54% said they expect traditional pro sports to host more tournaments that use athletes competing in games

Credit: 704Games

Action needed to support women in esports

Respondents felt that the esports industry should take action to increase the representation and equitable treatment of women in esports. The actions listed as being the most important were:

  • Organizations providing greater visibility and leadership roles for female gamers (67%)

  • Appropriate disciplinary action against those who engage in misconduct (63%)

  • Brands and sponsors pushing for more gender diversity on teams (58%)

  • Esports companies creating and updating policies on employee conduct and anti-harassment (50%)

As the industry grows, so does the nature of legal risks, with respondents stating IP (48%) and cybersecurity (41%) as the two areas posing most risks to esports, with concerns around cyberbullying (40%) and labor and employment issues (38%) both growing from 2019.

Gambling could threaten the growth of the game

During the pandemic, gambling within esports has increased following more states in the US legalizing betting, however 75% felt that the growth of the game could be threatened by gambling due to match-fixing and a lack of tools to detect cheating and fraud.


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