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Esports could see further investment after COVID-19 lockdown, report finds

Esports executives believe that competitive gaming will see an increase in investment and revenue opportunities after its popularity increased during the first lockdown, according to the Esports Survey Report.

The survey, that was conducted by the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP and the Esports Observer news outlet, set out to gather the opinion of industry experts on what they believe the future holds for Esports.

255 executives, namely from the United States and Europe, responded and predicted an even brighter future for the up-and-coming sport that was already seeing an increase in interest prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey asked questions relating to how the industry has dealt with the coronavirus crisis, which hasn’t been as detrimentally impacted as other sports. 73 per cent of respondents believe that there will be more investment and deal activity in the next six months off the back of the COVID-19 lockdowns across the world. 61 per cent said that the upward trend will be driven from the public engaging more with video games and esports having spent more time at home. 52 per cent also believe that big brands will move into the industry through sponsorship.

“While hardly any industry has been spared from COVID-19’s economic impacts, the survey findings suggest an overall positive outlook for esports’ continued growth,” said Bobby Sharma, special adviser to Foley’s Sports & Entertainment Group.

“Investors clearly remain interested in the value and potential of esports, and the fact that its massive audience has accelerated its growth in these uncertain times has only created more intrigue.”

On the other hand, the survey also uncovered some fears amongst the ranks of those that believe the industry will have been, and may still continue to, be impacted by the pandemic. 77 per cent have predicted a decrease in investment due to the inability to hold live, in-person events, something that has proved popular with Esports fans and also a drop-off in sponsorships.

Throughout the early stages of the pandemic, Esports saw an approval for gambling by regulators, potentially opening up the opportunity for there to be more revenue. However, the study revealed that 46 per cent of respondents felt that the biggest threat to the industry was the lack of adequate detection systems for cheating. In the past, it has been suggested that the growth of Esports could be stunted if cheating overwhelms the sport.

Traditional sports have branched into Esports in recent years having reacted to the everchanging market interests. 54 per cent of those surveyed claimed that they felt traditional sports will move into hosting tournaments where professional athletes will compete in video games.

Michael Wall, a member of Foley’s Sports & Entertainment Group said: “The pandemic may very well be a wakeup call for traditional professional sports, highlighting the need to evolve digitally and rethink the use of technology to deliver content and engage with fans.

“Esports can provide a model for this transformation, as the industry has continued to offer compelling, dynamic, and engaging digital content to grow in popularity during this time.”

Author: Jake Wilkin