Superdata Research – Esports by numbers in 2016

Superdata Research’s ‘2016 A Year in Review: Digital Games and Interactive Media’ included an encouraging look at esports, its growth over the past 12 months and its projections for the next few years. 

One key takeaway was that Superdata currently values the industry as a whole at $892m (£727.9m), and that whilst this forms a small chunk of the overall $91bn (£74.2bn) generated by interactive entertainment as a whole in 2016 it asserts that it has “become a focal point for publishers, TV executives and advertisers.”

In its three year predictive growth section Superdata estimates that it will climb steadily year on year and reach a value of $1.4bn (£1.1bn) by 2019. It also states that in terms of regions Asia dominates; it is top of the pile in terms of revenue (at $328m (£267.6m)) though North America isn’t far behind at $275.2m (£209m). Moreover in regard to viewers it is miles ahead. This can all be seen more clearly in the image below.

As far as betting goes Superdata accounted for a $58.9m (£48m) in revenue from this area, another which is set to grow in and beyond 2017 as this was the year in which a great many bookmakers began to offer limited markets within it and get to grips with the numerous new markets involved.

“For an indie developer like Psyonix to build a ‘grassroots esport’ with the following it (Rocket League) has generated and which has led to two world championships and a prize pool of $180,000 (£146,000) is not bad going at all…”

There is a mention of the ongoing Valve skins drama, and how the crackdown by regulators and controversy has led to the developers of Rocket League and Overwatch being careful with in-game items and not allowing them to be tradeable. These two titles also get a well deserved mention in terms of how they exploded onto the scene and created their own cult following. These were both impressive in their own way with the speed of Overwatch’s growth unprecedented and the Overwatch League planned for next year is something that has garnered considerable interest. As for Rocket League, for an indie developer like Psyonix to build a ‘grassroots esport’ with the following it has generated and which has led to two world championships and a prize pool of $180,000 (£146,000) it’s not bad going at all.   

“Las Vegas could well become a major hub for esports and attract both pro and casual gamers throughout the year”

Back to betting and the Superdata report also mentions the fact that there was the first legal and official esports bet taken by a Vegas sportsbook in the form of William Hill on a League of Legends clash in 2016. Indeed, esports betting in casinos has vast potential with land based casinos themselves keen on appealing to a younger demographic. With the likes of William Hill, Unikrn and more working on creating esports sportsbook experiences, and the creation of skill gaming machines the likes of which GameCo have begun to roll out on casino floors in the States, Las Vegas could well become a major hub for esports and attract both pro and casual gamers throughout the year.

Esports Insider says: A strong summary which highlights what a year esports has had, and more importantly sets the scene for what looks to be a continually impressive next few. Breaking that billion dollar value mark will make headlines, and with 2017 looking like it’ll be a year in which media rights could form a big part of business discussions this situation could arise very quickly indeed.