You can say “it’s not a sport” all you want, but competitive video gaming— also known as eSports — is a thing, and, as this chart from Statista shows, it’s only expected to get bigger.
In its latest eSports market report, market researcher Newzoo thinks eSports at large will make $696 million in revenue in 2017, with its total audience — be it hardcore fans or those who just watch the bigger game championships — reaching 385 million. By 2020, Newzoo projects, those will reach $1.48 billion and 589 million, respectively. (That revenue figure doesn’t include money made from eSports-related gambling, either.)
That’d still fall well behind major sports leagues like the NFL and NBA, and the relative inscrutability of, say, “League of Legends” — the most popular competitive video game in the world — still makes it harder for newcomers to get into. Plus, while sports media titans like ESPN has stopped ignoring the trend, some of their forays into gaming haven’t been popular.
But eSports’ fans are overwhelmingly young and online, media and tech giants are increasingly dipping their toes in the sport, and more and more game developers are building their titles to have eSports-friendly features. Put it all together, and these sort of expectations may not be unreasonable.