eSports create new opportunities for Arizona students and businesses

Video games have historically been viewed as an unproductive use of children’s time, but now, players of all ages can make money excelling at various games. A rise in eSports has led to new business opportunities globally, nationally, and even locally.

According to research company Newzoo, eSports is expected to generate $906 million in revenue this year. In fact, this figure has jumped by 178 percent since 2015, and the amount of revenue generated is projected to eclipse $1.5 billion by 2020.

Additionally, the crowds are massive – according to Variety, the 2017 “League of Legends” World Championship attracted 60 million viewers. In comparison, the 2018 Super Bowl – the most popular domestic sports event annually – had an average audience of 103 million viewers. As eSports continue to grow, the number of viewers will likely eclipse that of the Super Bowl.

Arizona businesses and organizations have already taken notice of this rapid growth. Moreover, last year, Talking Stick Resort partnered with eSports innovation firm Ultimate Media Ventures to establish E/AZ, a competitive monthly eSports series. Talking Stick hosted its first gaming tournament of the series last October, where gamers competed in Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros for a $5,000 prize.

State organizations are also investing in eSports – the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), which governs high school activities and sports, recently introduced two video games into their list of competitive activities. Furthermore, high school students will be able to start and compete in their own teams for popular games such as “Rocket League” and “League of Legends.” Students will be able to compete in a state championship during the fall and spring semesters for these two games.

Although the AIA’s introduction of eSports doesn’t create any major advertising or business opportunities, it represents an investment in both eSports’ and these students’ futures. Moreover, according to Michael Brooks, executive director of the National Association of Collegiate eSports, the number of colleges and universities that offered eSports scholarships grew by roughly 480 percent in the past twelve months.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Matthew Black explains that eSports are not that different from professional sports. In fact, they generate many of the same kinds of jobs that football and baseball do. “In a lot of ways, it’s not that different than pro sports. They have sports psychologists. They have chefs. They have coaches who tell them about strategy,” Black explains. The prize pool for [Dota 2] is a ridiculous amount of money. I think it’s north of $25 million now, and it’ll keep growing in the days ahead.”

In 2018, parents may want to reconsider requiring their kids to spend more time outside and less time in front of the television. As eSports continues to rise in popularity, they will present more opportunities for sponsors, advertisers, students, job-hunters, and fans alike.

Ben Norman

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