Date posted: 29/07/2020 5 min read

5 things you didn’t know about pro gaming

Forget the ‘kids in their bedrooms’ stereotype. Pro video gaming is a growing business that can earn players big money.

In Brief

  • Video games are on track to be a US$300 billion industry by 2025.
  • For major gaming teams, the most important revenue is from sponsors.
  • 53% of regular gamers are spending more time in front of the screen since the beginning of the COVID-19.

By Seamus Byrne

1. An Australian is a top 10 esports prize earner

Research firm GlobalData predicts video games will be a US$300 billion industry by 2025. Growth in pro gaming prize pools has also accelerated. In 2019, total esports prize money was more than US$211 million across almost 5000 tournaments around the world. While Fortnite contests have gained a lot of mainstream media attention, the top 10 record prize earners made their money playing a game called Dota2. Australia’s Anathan “ana” Pham sits at #3 on the list of prize-money earners with US$6million in the bank.

2. The world’s biggest brands now want in

For major teams, the most important revenue comes from sponsors. Seeing technology brands such as Samsung, Intel and Dell’s Alienware associated with esports makes sense to any observer. But in recent years, well-known luxury brands have sponsored some of the biggest tournaments in the world. Mercedes-Benz is “global mobility partner” with ESL, the world’s biggest esports tournament organiser. Louis Vuitton made the trophy case for the League of Legends World Championship.

In Australia, Canva co-founder Cameron Adams was appointed chairman of ASX-listed competitive video gaming platform Esports Mogul in 2019, while this year Harvey Norman, Flight Centre and Disney’s Marvel Entertainment all got behind Australian teams for the first time.

3. The biggest game streamers beat TV’s biggest audiences

Pro gaming isn’t just about esports. Another measure of success is streaming games online to an audience of millions through Amazon’s Twitch or Google’s YouTube.

Some very successful game streamers, such as “mrfreshasian” Harley Campbell [#4 most-watched Fortnite channel] and “Loserfruit” Kathleen Belsten [#7 for Animal Crossing: New Horizons in English], are based in Australia. Grace Watkins, co-founder of gamer influencer agency Click Management, says some streamers get more views for a live video on a weeknight than the AFL Grand Final on TV.

4. Big esports events occur in stadiums – which is bad in 2020

Some top-tier gaming events take place in theatres and major finals are even held in sports stadiums. Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena was set to host the Intel Extreme Masters for the first time in August. But in the year of coronavirus, pro gaming has seen mass shutdowns and event cancellations. Many leagues are shifting back to online play for the rest of their 2020 seasons – not exactly a trick any traditional sports can pull. The World Health Organisation has even called for gamers to stay at home and play; 53% of regular gamers are spending more time in front of the screen since the beginning of the crisis, according to German cryptocurrency news site

5. Even tabletop games are winning big on digital

Tabletop games are also finding a new lease on life through digital platforms. Role-playing classic Dungeons & Dragons is particularly resurgent, with podcasts and streams of games featuring Hollywood actors or stand-up comedians drawing millions of fans. The most successful, Critical Role – a group of voice actors – raised more than US$11 million on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform to produce an animated series based on their adventures.

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