Skeptics stand up and take note: esports are now medalling events in Asia
The Olympics equivalent for Asia – the Asian Games, held in Jakarta this week – is about to make history: for the first time, esports will be a category. This year, although video games will be played alongside traditional sporting events like track-and-field, there won’t be any medals up for grabs. But from 2022, it has already been established that gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded, and many people are regarding this week’s Games as a testing ground to see whether esports will be included in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Tencent, China’s preeminent gaming company, was awarded a full half of the slots on offer. That’s massive exposure, given that Asia is the world’s most populous continent, and the Asian Games are its most prestigious sporting event. It is still not entirely clear how the slots were divvied up, and that’s just one of many points of contention. Scott McGrory, an Australian cycling gold medalist and sports broadcaster said what many former athletes appear to be thinking: “It’s really a shift away from the Olympic ethos. It’s like saying, let’s have a competition with the best accountants on the planet.”
But while many critics say that greed is the driving force behind the move, some people are more pragmatic. Mathew Jessep, a sports and esports lawyer, said: “They’ve got Olympic ideals and they use all these slogans, but at the end of the day this is a big money-making machine. If the Olympics want to continue making the sort of money they’ve been making, they need to supplement the content. From a content play, esports is a definitive opportunity."
He’s not wrong. According to estimates from Goldman Sachs, revenue from esports will triple to $3 billion by 2022, from this year. Advertising will account for as much as 40% of this huge revenue boost, as the global audience watching esports matches increases to 276 million. However, with that much money in play, Masaru Sugiyama, an analyst with the broker, raised an interesting question: “Being chosen as the de facto game for esports is a huge plus for publishers. When a game becomes an Olympic sport, should it have an owner? Or should it be in the public domain? This is a question that must be answered.”
Dominion holds a number of companies involved in the esports industry in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund, including Tencent and Activision Blizzard.
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