As traditional sports leagues came to a standstill in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the esports industry sustained momentum and actually saw big growth, as noted at this year’s CES, the Consumer Technology Association’s annual technology and media trade show.
While the NBA, NFL, and other major sporting leagues effectively came to a halt, esporting leagues maintained nearly all of its momentum by shifting to players simply playing from home and maintaining broadcasting. The absence of live venues did not at all impact viewership, but with so many people forced to stay home, there were actually huge surges in viewership.
While speaking in a CES 2021 panel, Seth Schneider, the product manager of esports at NVIDIA Corp.’s GeForce gaming division, said that esports was already going mainstream, with traditional sports athletes and other major names increasingly investing in the medium. COVID-19 just “turbocharged” that process, he said, with other entertainment industries jumping on game streaming platforms such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch to try and grab a piece of the uninterrupted viewership.
According to GlobalData’s latest reports named ‘Esports-Thematic Research’. The Esport’s industry has clearly proven to be immune to the COVID-19 pandemic due to its prompt transition into online formats and sudden spike in interest from traditional sports organizations.
And more people are both watching and playing games. As shown below, Video game sales in the U.S and Canada forecast a 14.6% increase in 2021 which equates to billions of dollars.
While several games are benefiting from this enormous spike, there are a few that are leading the pack-namely a game by the name of Fortnite. A few years ago, Fortnite hosted its first ever “World Cup” which filled an arena and had people around the globe watching and cheering for their favorite organizations and players. In 2020, this event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the overall game saw incredible growth none the less. Generating millions of dollars and providing rapid success for many players and organizations in the space. We see teams or organizations have rapid success, and even up and coming organizations on the rise.
For example, we spoke with Anthony Cruz and Robert Maggetti, or Cass and Nubs respectively (their gamertags), which are the owners of Baleful Esports, to ask them about their experiences. Both admit that they saw exponential growth and success in 2020. Anthony says, “people just didn’t have much to do. Gaming was an escape. An escape from the fact that they were trapped inside. An escape from the constant worry of them or a loved one getting sick. And an escape from the reality of the world being in disarray. People needed something to focus on, and gaming is one of the best escapes there is. So yes, we absolutely saw huge growth during 2020 and throughout quarantine.”
Baleful Esports, predominantly known on Twitter as Baleful Esports and on Instagram as Team Baleful, has gained over 100,000 followers in 2020 throughout their platforms. There are individual members within the organization gaining hundreds of thousands of views, there are players competing on national stages, and there simply seems to be no slowing down in sight. Baleful is now beginning the journey towards raising capital in a round A seed stage, currently working with multiple investment banking and venture capital firms, to work on continuing to grow the organization and ultimately assign a CEO to head operations. And with the market seemingly dominating traditional sports and entertainment, who knows how far this organization can really take it.
Fortnite has brought in over 9 billion US dollars in just 2 years, and Fortnite is just one of many popular games. Its hard to understand the true rate that Fortnite is growing at or the actual potential that this industry has. But either way, it’s becoming apparent that gaming is no longer for our children to enjoy after school. This has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry and its time we all pay attention.