Will eSports Become An Olympic Sport?

You may have seen the recent news that eSports is set to be a medal event at 2022 Asian Games, to be held in Hangzhou, China. This is a huge decision as the Asian games are the second largest multi-sport competition after the Olympics.  In reality, this decision means that eSports is just one stop short of becoming a fully recognised Olympic Games sport.

eSports, defined as form of competition that is facilitated by electronic systemsis expected to generate £539 million this year alone globally, growth of 41%, according to Newzoo. In terms of audience, it also estimates this to be 385 million people, broken down by 191 million enthusiasts and 194 million occasional viewers

Meanwhile, in tandem with this growth, has also been increasing acceptance of eSports as a legitimate sport. This is highlighted by a number of high profile moves including:

Why Such Growth & Why Might The Olympics Include eSports In Future Games?

Its growth is plainly down to the audience it is catering to. As mentioned within an AdAge piece on the rise of eSports, brands can increasingly reach men aged between 21-35, who are increasingly hard to reach by traditional advertising methods. For example, as I mentioned within a previous blog post of Liverpool’s groundbreaking deal with Avon, look at services like Loot Crate which have risen sharply in popularity. It “provides monthly boxes of geek and gaming related merchandise”, while retailer Gamestop generated at minium $200 million in revenue in 2015 from this stream (read a great story from MCV here for more background).

As eSports is expected to reach £1.15 billion by 2020, its inclusion in the Asian Games in 2022 taps into this gold rush but also offers a testing ground for it to be included in the actual Olympic Games in future. Meanwhile, Chester King, the founder and acting chief executive of the British eSports Association (BEA) recently revealed he is meeting the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to lobby for eSports to become a fully recognised Olympic sport.

Given that legendary gaming label Atari held what is recognised as the first large scale video game competition, the Space Invaders Tournament, in 1980 (which actually attracted 10,000 players), eSports’ explosive growth in both monetary terms and also credibility-wise is truly incredible.

However, will we see it become an Olympic sport?

Given the money on offer, its burgeoning popularity amongst young people, really, in my mind, it is only a matter of time.