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Game Changers: A Roundtable on the eSports Revolution

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Over the last decade, a significant cultural shift has occurred in the entertainment industry. Esports, the organized and competitive form of video gaming, has gone from a fringe interest to a global sensation, captivating millions of fans and bringing in billions of dollars in revenue. This rapid rise has not only transformed gaming from a casual hobby to a legitimate profession but has also firmly established itself in mainstream culture, challenging traditional sports and revolutionizing the entertainment industry as a whole.

Esports, short for electronic sports, has evolved into a flourishing industry encompassing competitive gaming, live events, sponsorships, media coverage, and an ever-growing fan base. As technology advances, so does the potential for esports to redefine what it means to be a spectator and participant in the world of sports and entertainment. With a structure that mirrors traditional sports leagues, including professional teams, star players, and devoted fan communities, esports has become an influential force, making a significant impact on the gaming world and broader society.

For this roundtable, European Gaming spoke to Kevin des Lauriers, CEO at J3STER, and Kirill Nekrasov, Product Officer at BETBY to delve deeper into the rise of esports, examining the factors behind its explosive growth, the influence it wields across various industries and the exciting possibilities that lie on the horizon. By understanding the transformative power of esports and the remarkable journey it has undertaken thus far, we gain insights into a phenomenon that continues to reshape entertainment, challenge societal norms, and captivate a generation of enthusiasts.

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How is the rise of esports changing the way people interact with games?

KDL: Globally, we’re seeing a big increase in arenas being built specifically to draw in fans of esports. We’re also seeing a rise in LAN events across the world, with competitive and even casual players now putting together teams in order to get involved. Smaller sponsors are putting on more tournaments, and there seems to be a plethora of new leagues being created for any and every game imaginable – not just the usual titles, such as Warzone and League of Legends.

KN: There is a vast increase in viewers who passionately follow certain teams and particular disciplines within esports, whether that be soccer, ebasketball or any other sport that they like. This engagement ultimately acts as the spark for viewers to become participants, following in the footsteps of their favourite esports players, getting involved at an amateur level and engaging with the esports that they enjoy most.

 

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Influencers are often the faces of esports. What impact do these figures have on the industry?

KDL: In the industry, we’re in an interesting spot where influencers currently have a lot of power. Prominent players can discover and highlight exploits in games, effectively pushing game publishers to release patches and fixes more frequently. These publishers are also clamouring to release new features to keep these influencers happy and engaged, otherwise they risk them moving on to the next big thing.

There are armies of community managers working with game publishers, ready to provide influencers with gifts such as giveaway items for their fans, card packs, in-game content such as skins and more. Winning these influencers over is a surefire way to garner a positive reception in the esports sphere.

KN: In many industries, influencers are becoming more high-profile, garnering trust amongst audiences and shaping trends. These people within the esports industry are no different, whether they are players who were already in the public eye, or streamers who have amassed an organic following. However, the impact of these figures can both be positive and negative.

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If influencers enter the world of esports solely to generate quick success and garner hype, without having an esports background or a noticeable passion, then this can have a negative impact on the long-term development of the industry. If they do not enjoy the content, or understand the complexities and depth of esports, passionate fans will see through this attempt to engage with them and be turned away.

This can reduce the quality of new entrants. Some may also use their popularity to promote products or events that do not align with the values and needs of the esports community. This can also create a negative perception among fans.

 

Following that, what is the main appeal for both players and influencers to get involved in esports?

KDL: Most influencers are pros (or ex-pros), which effectively makes this relationship analogous to the classic sports commentators. They educate us on how good these “new players” are, and what we can strive to become – or simply admire from afar.

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However, pro esports players arguably aren’t as well-known today as the players we grew up with in classic sports. Some influencers host watch parties of big esports events, helping their fans to understand a little bit more about the teams and their players, which opens it up further for newcomers to get involved.

KN: Doing something you love and are passionate about, and competing at a competitive level cannot be underestimated. Entering esports, whether as a participant or influencer, should be a long-term commitment rather than just a temporary one. The esports community is incredibly passionate and this is a key selling point to getting involved, to be surrounded by like-minded people who care about the industry.

Being fully committed can bring a long-term career, and being able to participate in professional competitions, and potentially creating your own brand and personality that generates a following.

 

In your own opinion, how do you think you’re pushing innovation within the esports industry?

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KDL: On paper, J3STER is everything that Twitch influencers and viewers can wish for – community, engagement and monetization. We focus on creating lines for each influencer based on their match data, with the odds generated being unique to that influencer and their community.

Our mission is to increase the influencer’s ability to monetize without requiring any further work. J3STER does all of the work through seamless API integrations. Influencers can sign up through their Twitch account, connect their game data through our publisher API connections, and then send the link out to their viewers. This process can be completed in less than one minute.

For viewers, they have an alternative to tipping through Twitch streams, as each bet placed through J3STER gives the viewer the opportunity to tip the streamer directly. Of course, when there’s a bet on the line, each viewer is much more engaged in the outcome of the influencer’s match.

KN: BETBY has been actively innovating the esports industry since its inception. We started our journey in esports with the Betby.Games project, which is a unique opportunity for bettors to wager on the most popular esports disciplines, providing 24/7 availability, and minimising human error.

Something which is a big bonus to our brand is our trading department, with many being esports fans themselves. Because of this, they are actively searching for new and unique markets and tournaments for our brand to be involved with, and expanding our offering. BETBY was the first company to offer its customers markets on the Pokémon UNITE Championship, Team Fortress 2 and Trackmania.

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Of the latest product releases, it is worth highlighting our Betbuilder, which allows you to make combo bets within a single match, and which has already gained recognition among esports fans thanks to the exciting nature of these types of bets.

 

What are your predictions for the future of esports?

KDL: The eyes on esports have now reached the point where marketers simply cannot resist or oppose it any longer. I believe that, within the next five years, we’ll have more people tune in to watch a major esports competition than will tune into the Superbowl.

It’s also absolutely plausible that esports will very soon have the same energy behind it that the World Cup has – but this will require influencers with the necessary reach and power. Also, which game will headline? Will it be League of Legends, one of the biggest and longest-standing esports games, or perhaps Counter-Strike? Call of Duty is also another contender, as its recent huge rise in popularity is notable.

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If the legions of gamers and influencers within the esports industry cannot decide on a headlining game – in order to give esports an ‘identity’ – everything will continue to be grouped under the umbrella of ‘esports’, which could diminish its potential. Evolution is necessary, and I believe it’ll happen very quickly.

KN: The esports industry will certainly continue to grow and become even more professional. In the context of betting, this will mean a transition to a more professional relationship between market participants, whether it is obtaining broadcast rights or using data.

For spectators and fans of esports, the events will become more exciting as participation increases. We are also seeing a strong development in production standards from tournament to tournament, and this is really incredible to see. In addition, I personally expect an active expansion of esports on mobile devices which will widen the audience and will also help the emergence of a couple of exciting new disciplines in the industry.

eSports

First-ever Olympic Esports Games to take place in 2025; massive opportunity for Indian esports

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Following the IOC’s partnership with the NOC of Saudi Arabia to host the inaugural Olympic Esports Games, India’s growing esports sector has an opportunity to prove its mettle on the international stage and flourish

In a historic move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that the inaugural Olympic Esports Games will take place in Saudi Arabia in 2025. This decision follows the recent proposal by the IOC’s Executive Board and will be presented at the IOC Session ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The IOC has entered a 12-year partnership with the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Saudi Arabia to host the Olympic Esports Games. As per the official announcement, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Minister of Sport and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic and Paralympic Committee remarked, “The world is invited to join us in 2025 and celebrate this moment together.”

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Indian esports, already on the rise, stands to gain significantly from this development. Following a bronze medal win in DOTA 2 at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and competing in five titles at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, India’s esports scene is on track for further growth.

Expressing his enthusiasm for the groundbreaking development, Akshat Rathee, Co-founder and MD of NODWIN Gaming, said, “NODWIN Gaming is thrilled that esports has earned its place in the Olympics with its own standalone event, akin to the Summer, Winter, and Paralympics. This recognition allows countries to develop independent esports programs. Together with our partners in the GEF and the EWC, NODWIN Gaming is eager to build esports in our core growth markets, seizing this opportunity for hope and glory.”

The IOC launched its first esports pilot, the Olympic Virtual Series, in 2021 followed by the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore in June 2023. This event brought together over 130 players from around the world, competing in 10 mixed-gender categories, attracting over 500,000 unique participants and six million views, with 75% of the audience aged 13 to 34.

“The IOC’s embrace of the Olympic Esports Games honors the dedication and skill of millions of gamers worldwide. It goes beyond just competition; it elevates esports to a global platform, encouraging international collaboration and potentially ushering in a new generation of athletes. This initiative truly is a landmark moment for esports, bringing it the global recognition it has long earned. The inclusion of esports in the Olympic movement demonstrates its growing influence and cements its place in the future of sports,” commented Roby John, CEO and Co-founder at SuperGaming.

The introduction of the Olympic Esports Games is set to further enhance the credibility of esports in India, establishing it as a viable sport and career option.

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“This recognition will further legitimize esports as a career option, more parents will now support their children in pursuing careers in this field, elevating the professional landscape of competitive gaming. We are proud to support the growth of esports in India, giving our players the chance to shine on this prestigious international platform,” further.

With the official announcement of the Olympic Esports Games, work will now begin on selecting the host city and venue, determining the event’s timing, selecting titles, and establishing the qualification process for players. The IOC has emphasized collaboration with International Federations already engaged in e-sports and National Olympic Committees that include esports in their activities.

While the titles for the Olympic Esports Games have not been officially announced, the potential inclusion of games across diverse platforms is expected to stimulate growth in India’s gaming industry. This could lead to a rise in PC and console gaming, diversifying India’s predominantly mobile gaming market as players aim to represent their nation at the largest international multi-sport event.

“We are absolutely elated by the announcement of the Olympic Esports Games which is being hosted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This marks a monumental step for the industry and all its stakeholders. The Indian esports sector is on an upward trajectory and this will further empower it. Esports being integrated under the banner of the pinnacle of sports events in the world will bring further legitimacy to this form of sport and encourage a new generation of esports talent to rise from the country. We’re excited and look forward to extending our support to the esports community of India so they make a mark at the global event!” said Vishal Parekh, COO, CyberPowerPC India.

Additionally, the IOC will establish a dedicated structure for the Olympic Esports Games, distinct from the traditional Olympic Games model, to address the unique aspects of esports financing and organization.

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AFK Gaming announces India’s first-ever premium insights dashboard for esports analytics

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In a bid to provide authentic data and unparalleled insights into the nation’s esports industry, AFK Gaming has announced the beta launch of ‘AFK Gaming Insights’, India’s first-ever premium analytics dashboard.

This first-of-its-kind powerful tool offers real-time data and analytics to help users, brands and other stakeholders make informed decisions and stay ahead in the esports landscape of the country.

AFK Gaming Insights features three core analytics modules:
Tournaments Analytics: Access detailed information on prize pools, sponsors, players, teams, and more. This module provides a comprehensive view of the financial and competitive aspects of esports tournaments, enabling users to strategize effectively.

User Analytics: Discover valuable insights into demographics, occupations, interests, income ranges, spending habits, and more. This data helps users understand the diverse backgrounds and behaviours of the Indian gaming community, facilitating targeted marketing and engagement efforts.
Social Analytics: Track key metrics such as Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers, and the country’s top live streamers.

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Expressing his enthusiasm on the beta launch of AFK Gaming Insights, Nishant Patel, Co-founder and CEO of AFK Gaming stated, “AFK Gaming Insights is a product built to address a critical market need. In the absence of reliable data to aid their decision making, key stakeholders in the Indian gaming, esports and youth culture industries have been struggling to make informed decisions. With this launch, we hope to empower tournament organizers, brand managers, team owners and industry observers with a single source of truth that they can turn to for industry knowledge and information that will drive the sector’s growth as a whole.”

According to a report by Niko Partners, India is the fastest-growing gaming market, with over 450 million gamers and more than USD 830 million revenue generated in 2023. This expansive market requires a platform that enables stakeholders and brands to access insights on the go and use these metrics for their engagement and campaigns.

To address this, AFK Gaming Insights, which will be available exclusively to annual subscribers, has been devised to cater to a diverse spectrum of users. For newcomers, the dashboard serves as an entry point, providing information that helps them understand trends, player performances and tournament dynamics.

Gamers can optimise their strategies and refine their performances while hardcore audiences will benefit from the deeper insights on their favourite gamers and teams’ social media engagements, viewerships and tournament statistics. For example, the tool reveals that Total Gaming is currently the most viewed Indian gaming YouTuber, with an average of 4.25 million views per video over the last month.

On the other hand, industry stakeholders can leverage detailed analytics into market trends, audience behaviours and sponsorship opportunities to make strategic decisions. For instance, the dashboard uncovers significant trends, such as the fact that more Indian gamers spend money on a daily basis rather than not spending at all.

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This pioneering platform promises to redefine the analysis of competitive gaming and change the way esports is perceived in the country.

The post AFK Gaming announces India’s first-ever premium insights dashboard for esports analytics appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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Gen.G Launches Official 2024 Summer Jersey with LIBILLY

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Global esports organisation Gen.G announced their newest apparel collaboration with LIBILLY, a Seoul streetwear culture-based brand led by rapper Changmo. The “2024 Gen.G x LIBILLY Collection” represents icons of youth and passion in cross-cultural scenes; the two brands are teaming up to promote K-culture worldwide, beyond Korea’s domestic stage.

“Every year, we are proud that we get to be a part of some of the biggest esports moments in the world. This year, we are excited to partner with Changmo and the team at LIBILLY to introduce a new kit during such a historic season,” Arnold Hur, CEO of Gen.G Esports, said.

The new collection with LIBILLY consists of six pieces, including the official jersey and jacket as well as short-sleeved t-shirts, sweatshirts and ball caps featuring both organisations’ logos. The official jersey, accented in Gen.G’s signature gold colour, is designed to be breathable and comfortable for both players and fans to wear. Gen.G’s iconic slogan “Change the Game” is printed on it to encourage fans to collect. LIBILLY is the latest in a series of successful lifestyle collaborations for Gen.G, with brands like The Hundreds, PUMA and Heron Preston in past years.

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The lifestyle apparel features a mashup of Gen.G adorable mascot “Genrang” wearing clothes with LIBILLY’s symbol “031” logo, among other cobranded apparel items. Images of the Gen.G League of Legends team, currently competing in Riyadh for the 2024 Esports World Cup, have captured the hearts and minds of fans since they first leaked.

“I’m excited to wear new uniforms this season through our collaboration with the hip and young brand LIBILLY. It was fun to try out and shoot content in a different look than we did before, so I hope the fans enjoy it as much as we enjoyed this process,” said Gen.G’s Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Gen.G, a representative of the esports scene. We hope that this collection, which reinterprets the passionate brand image of Gen.G from our perspective and expresses it in a new dimension, will be a meaningful gift to Gen.G fans around the world. We also look forward to the various collaborative activities that Gen.G and LIBILLY will continue to launch,” said rapper Changmo, head of LIBILLY.

The post Gen.G Launches Official 2024 Summer Jersey with LIBILLY appeared first on European Gaming Industry News.

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