The gaming industry has been evolving year-after-year with evolving technology. The astronomical rise of esports in the last few years is reshaping the industry and is visible through its increasing worldwide fanbase and new trends, especially in 2021. We have seen massive growth in viewership and demographics in esports like CS:GO, Overwatch, Dota 2, Fortnite, and League of Legends over Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and other streaming channels.
While most industries were affected by COVID-19 in 2020, the popularity of esports increased as people confined indoors explored ways to make the most out of their time. The physical sporting world remained quiet, but gaming came to life and provides a promising alternative to players. Although to be fair, the esports industry was enjoying a meteoric rise even before the lockdown.
As 2020 draws to a close, we are set for a positive year of growth, both with revenue and viewership. It is estimated that the industry will generate $1194.8 million in 2021. Let’s look at the top 5 key trends that will affect the growth of the esports industry in 2021.
1. Mobile Esports
The introduction of lite apps has seen a surge in mobile esports especially in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia and Brazil. As one of the fastest-growing competitive gaming fields, 2021 will provide growth opportunities for mobile esports.
A myriad of exciting mobile esports games come to life and existing games like PUBG Mobile will continue to enjoy tremendous growth, maybe even becoming a top 5 title. With new regions, more events, and a huge prize pool, mobile esports tournaments across Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia can enjoy a larger fanbase and popularity.
2. Virtual Reality
Thus far, virtual reality (VR) has revolutionized the esports world and has yet to bring new possibilities in 2021. Groundbreaking VR technology is going to be vital to the future of esports as players seek greater immersive experience.
VR enables players to have an exclusive in-game experience where they feel immersed inside. As we set for a new year, VR developments and adoptions among gamers will increase as players try to express their own personality during virtual gameplays.
3. 5G Networks
With the 5G network providing an era of innovation and excitement in the coming year, esports will be one of the areas that make the most of this development. 5G looks to transform download speeds, streaming capabilities, and real-time gameplay experiences. This in turn lets esports enable gamers to bolster their experience without installing new infrastructure.
5G networks foster virtualization and creation of network slices, allowing each slice to be designated for a specific purpose. Network slicing allows spectators in tournament arenas to enjoy smooth 3D augmented reality experiences, receive instant replays on their devices, and enjoy 360-degree views on their gameplays.
4. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S
Despite the pandemic, Sony and Microsoft managed to launch their revolutionary gaming consoles, effectively transforming the gaming experience. These new consoles support dozens of titles and feature noteworthy improvements in graphical performance.
PCs are leading in esports participation, but with these next-gen consoles, we expect the use of consoles to increase and rapidly close the gap. Bigger, sleeker, brighter, and better than ever, the next-gen consoles will definitely encourage developers to develop esports titles supported by these platforms.
5. 2021 Esports Demographics
As the popularity of mobile esports and tournaments continues to surge, we expect viewership and demographics to expand. Market research shows that esports demographics will increase by 14% by the end of 2021 and there will be more than 550 million esports fans across the globe.
While the majority of esports fans are young, male, and affluent individuals, these demographics will likely change slightly in 2021. We expect more females and young adults to join the increasing fanbase as gamers recognize it as a professional sport.
With continuous innovation and improvement of technology, the possibilities are endless. Convergence between virtual and physical sports will continue to draw close as esports adopts these top 5 trends and features previously dominant in the physical world of sports. Growing sponsorships, advertising revenue, and betting will help develop the industry in 2021.
Written by Daniella Johnson
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