How COVID-19 has impacted the eSports industry


Published: July 29, 2020 4:34:36 pm

eSports, Coronavirus, COVID-19, How COVID-19 has impacted eSports, Gaming, Esports industry, eSports industry during COVID-19 pandemic The increasing demand for video games and rising awareness of esports contribute to the growth of its market. (Express Photo: Karanveer Singh Arora)

By Yash Pariani

Despite the widespread economic catastrophe caused by the coronavirus, the global esports industry is thriving. With the practice of social distancing reducing consumer and business activity to a minimum, gaming provides an engaging distraction for people at home seeking for social interaction.

With all traditional sports tournaments on hold across the world due to coronavirus pandemic, many people have turned to esports. As a result, bookmakers are seeing a massive growth in esports betting. Analysts have described esports as being “popularized and legitimized unpredictably and profoundly.” Among younger demographic groups, a prolonged shutdown has driven more fans to esports regularly – which globally would represent millions of new consumers for the industry.

The rise in video gaming is directly proportional to esports

With large number of people staying indoors, sports fanatics across the globe have taken to video gaming in the age of the pandemic. The lockdown has undoubtedly boosted esports user engagement. The increasing demand for video games and rising awareness of esports contribute to the growth of its market. As technology is expanding, so the video content, products, and competitions are scaling up. It has turned out to be transiting pop culture and retransforming the ways that young people consume entertainment. Simply put, people are spending more time viewing esports during isolation, which leads to higher spending.

The gaming business model

Gaming revenues are almost entirely driven by consumer spending, but the business model has evolved significantly in recent years. Today consumers buy fewer games than previous years, but spend more time with those games, shifting the business model from single-unit to recurring revenue generated from a base of active users. As a result, the industry is laser-focused on increasing engagement per user. Aside from making esports as compelling as possible, the strategy for doing so has been the adoption of in-game monetization opportunities.

Tracking the Skyrocketing Growth Worldwide

The global video game market is said to be worth $159 billion in 2020, around four times box office revenues ($43 billion in 2019) and almost three times music industry revenues ($57 billion in 2019). The market is then expected to grow and reach $2.11 billion in 2023 at CAGR of 23.82%. Besides, the largest market by revenue is Asia-Pacific, with almost 50% of the games market by value.

In-house entertainment seems to be the only hope for gamers in lockdown while cinemas and theatres continue their ‘doors closed’ policy to prevent the disease. According to the report of Verizon, streaming demand increased by 12%, while video gaming boomed to a phenomenal 75%. The unprecedented increase in esports came at a time when the pandemic had successfully disrupted every aspect of normal living in the world. People in self-isolation being desperate for entertainment have resorted to gaming and esports and hence the immense traffic.

Impact of cancelled tournaments

Several large-scale esports events being either cancelled, postponed, or held without audiences due to lockdown. However, cancellation of promotional events of esports is likely to impact geographic expansion, particularly to emerging markets, where a lot of time and money is spent to introduce games to new players. Besides, many traditional sports have also turned to esports as a way of mitigating the damage caused by the pandemic. It has resulted in many fans who would usually bet on more traditional sports turning their attention to the world of esports, and they are now placing bets on competitive gaming.

The growing number of investors

It’s not just consumers who are focusing more on the world of esports betting. With no sports to look for sponsors and investors are also investing more into the esports side of things during this time, looking to capitalize on the boom that is currently happening. There’s a considerable level of interest from potential investors, who are realizing that esports is resilient to many of the forces that affect traditional sports, not least COVD-19 and a potential recession.


Given the situation where chances are the virus is to stay for a while, we can expect the esports industry to continue its upward revenue growth trend. In short, we are looking at a post-pandemic gaming world with a steady flow of new competitions, titles, and publishers.

Article written by – Yash Pariani, Founder & CEO, Indian Gaming League (IGL)

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