The COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States a year ago and is still changing the way individuals and businesses go about everyday life. Apart from physical health, the effects of this pandemic have become clear. People need to limit contact with others, and industries have to adapt to new dynamics. In particular, esports has seen significant growth in the past year.
People are turning to technology more than ever. In fact, 53% of adults in the U.S. deemed the internet “essential” during the pandemic. With this reliance on technology, esports has been able to thrive. What once was a small niche is now growing into an industry.
1. Following the Money
Esports are engaging ways to compete with friends or strangers online. Typically, esports tournaments can happen in-person, but venues will likely remain closed or at limited capacity until the virus is no longer an issue. Either way, the money trail is clear — esports is taking off.
As companies close brick-and-mortar stores, they need to adjust financially. Since internet usage and e-commerce are flourishing, the best way to maintain a steady profit is for developers to go virtual. Esports is the industry to watch.
Similarly, investors see this movement and are taking action. Plenty of esports and video game stocks are now taking off, which draw new and long-term investors into the industry. This momentum comes from the shifting focus to e-commerce but works in tandem with what the people are flocking to.
2. Staying at Home and Social Distancing
Esports is on track to likely surpass $1 billion in revenue this year. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible for developers and investors to follow these profits without stay-at-home and social distancing orders. Perhaps the biggest factor in esports growth? The more people at home, the more people will turn to new outlets for entertainment.
One of the most vital elements in stopping the virus’s spread is to come in contact with as few people as possible. This isolation means people may get bored easily. When that happens, new trends come about.
Esports gaming allows people to use a variety of platforms for entertainment. PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch — these consoles are the tools with which gamers can watch or engage in esports. This form of competition includes a range of games, too. Since in-person sports may not be safe, gamers can compete in virtual versions of them.
Esports is safe, distant, and an engaging way to connect with familiar and new faces.
3. Combining With Other Tech
Esports isn’t the only innovation that’s growing due to the pandemic. Plenty of other tech is seeing a boost as well. 5G is rolling out across the country, edge computing is on the rise, and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are thriving.
Based on projections, AR and VR will see an annual growth rate of almost 43%, adding billions of dollars in value to the industry by the end of the decade.
Additionally, CES 2021 unveiled countless upcoming innovations, like new LED screens and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. The combination of these gadgets with esports is inevitable — they’ll boost growth across the board. With the world turning to tech, this collaboration would have taken longer without the pandemic’s influence.
4. Making Human Connections
Finally, there’s a recurring human factor in each of these steps. Most prominently, people have to isolate. It’s not safe to spend time at in-person events like “normal life” typically entails. Instead, virtual connections are what has taken over.
On top of the physical effects of COVID-19, there’s a mental health crisis as well. Esports offers entertainment, but more pressingly, it’s a way to bond with friends and new people over common interests. As people can’t be physically together, esports helps provide that human connection. Thus, it will continue to grow during and after the pandemic.
A Sign of The Times
People finding new entertainment and ways to connect through the COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the biggest sign of the times currently. Esports is taking off financially because it’s an industry that is new, exciting, and only going to improve from here. It brings people together. Maybe it’s time to see what the excitement is all about.