Esports has grown into a billion-dollar industry in the previous two decades, with a growth rate that would make NASA jealous. Players are celebrities, tournaments draw tens of thousands of spectators, and sponsors are progressively pouring money into the e-sports industry.
The players are, indeed, rock stars. Is that the case? Skeptics of esports believe that team values and the industry as a whole are suffering a bubble. As some observers have pointed out, those who report on its success stand to profit from it. And, like with every startup, large investments fuel PR, which boosts valuations, entices more investment, and keeps the whole thing running. As a result, the cycle continues until the music stops, as it always does. Interested parties may be looking for a seat at that time.
Because of some of the industry’s unique qualities and dynamics, it’s also difficult to extrapolate the history of, say, the NBA onto esports. To begin with, World777 e-sports players are typically younger than competitors in other sports, peaking between the ages of 17 and 25. They’re younger, less mature people who have only had a few adult jobs. Second, e-sports games are owned by publishers. League of Legends is owned by Riot, while basketball is not. These could be differences at the paradigm level.
While esports certainly differ from traditional sports on many levels, they do so in a number of ways that are similar to, if not identical to, traditional sports. These parallels may be useful in predicting future issues in the e-sports business. Here are some of the issues that we believe will become big concerns in e-sports in the near future, many of which are currently budding.
Unions of players
For several years, the idea of forming an esports players’ union has been discussed. Individual players and teams will become famous and gain social and economic leverage as the industry expands, just as they do in professional sports. As a result, some sort of collective bargaining unit will have to be established. The size and power of this organization will be determined by how well the sector as a whole performs; if e-sports fails to take off, neither will players’ unions. Although the difficulties will differ – professional gamers are unlikely to suffer traumatic brain damage – the need for players to negotiate on an equal basis with teams, sponsors, and other stakeholders is unavoidable. If there is a pie to divide, unions are the result.
Along with commercial endorsements, e-sports is rapidly producing stars, and popularity is always a terrific fulcrum for all types of political groups, agendas, and so on. Social justice activists from all walks of life will emerge from the shadows and begin to influence esports. Ng Wai Chung, commonly known as “Blotching,” made headlines recently when he shouted a pro-Hong Kong chant during the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament. Depending on how big things get, the same pressures will be applied again.
All of the components are present. The majority of e-sports competitors are under the age of thirty. There’s money on the line. Cheating scandals, harassment bans, and charges of fraud have all occurred in the past. To date, however, this information has been (relatively) limited. For example, the StarCraft 2 cheating controversy or the Australian match-fixing affair in a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event in August. The possibility for a truly major, systemic scandal is a direct result of any form of entertainment’s visibility and money, combined with a sport’s immaturity. The popularity of esports world777 betting doesn’t help matters. The more money on the line, the more probable a major scandal will emerge.
The Law of Unintended Consequences is quite real, and predicting the future is famously difficult. Those who do not comprehend history, however, are doomed to repeat it, as George Santayana put it. Bill Murray, a well-known philosopher, made a similar point in his film Groundhog Day. In It’s a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart did as well.
It would be good if esports could learn some of these lessons from other sports in a less painful way than the hard way, and the gleaming, exhilarating, immensely hopeful, and rapidly-growing industry could live up to its enormous potential without making a shambles. It hasn’t happened before, but that doesn’t imply it won’t happen again. The outcome, in the words of tens of thousands of local television news stories, remains to be seen.