free time activities. Four out of five US households own a device used to play video games, according to research published in 2015 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). And, it’s not only students or stereotypical school-age guys participating in video games: the average game player in the US is 35 years old.
For some players, video games are not only a pastime but also a way to earn money by participating in e-sport competitions. Today’s e-sport participants include a diverse array of professionals who prefer to earn money outside their day-jobs riding a tank or competing in archery events as an elf in a computer game. As the participant pool has expanded, e-Sport has become more mainstream and lucrative.
- Several educational institutions—including Chung-Ang University—have cybersport departments.
- Televisions broadcast stations around the world now cover e-Sport events. For instance, Twitch.tv has over 10 million viewers per day for its video game programming.
- e-Sport associations recognize cybersport as an official Olympic sport alongside other less traditional 'sports,' such as chess and automobile racing. Moreover, the US along with some countries of Europe and Asia recognize e-Sport as a sport for some official purposes. The United States will issue "professional athlete visas" to visa applicants traveling to the US for e-sport tournaments. And, in 2015, the Korean Olympic Committee accredited eSports as a 2nd-level Olympic sport.
- Total all-time e-sport earnings globally reached roughly $270 million earlier this year, nearly equal to the GDP of Micronesia, according to the latest GDP data from the World Bank.
The most successful games and e-sport teams stand to win significant prize money, especially as global audiences widen and grow. e-Sports are performed through organized tournaments between professional players from all over the world, each of whom is recruited for specific skills, such as reaction time, thinking outside the box, and other intellectual skills. Endurance plays a significant role given the intellectually taxing nature of honing the required skills for a given e-sport.
- Players from Asian countries lead in cybersports: China and South Korea rank among the top five spots based on total e-sport earnings.
- Earnings in cybersports tournaments have grown to values equal to or greater than traditional mainstream sports. The 2014 FIFA World Cup prize pool was $358 million; the winning team receiving $35 million, or around $1.5 million per player. In comparison, a 5-member team took home $1.8 million each for winning International 2016-Dota 2, the largest cybersport event ever.
- Like traditional sports, the prize money is not the only money in the game; advertising, broadcasting, and sponsorship thrive in the e-sport world as well and will only grow as e-sport challenges classic sports to expand its audience base.