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Once virtual, esports is sure to change the real world

December 13, 2018

­Esports is big, and it’s getting bigger.  According to newzoo, 2017 revenues reached $696 million and should grow to $1.5 billion by 2020 as brand investment doubles.  As this new form of sporting competition gets more popular, a once virtually held and participated-in competition is starting to change the built environment with the demand for esports arenas and facilities.

What is Esports?

Also known as e-sports or electronic sports, esports generally refers to organized video game competitions.  These competitions tend to involve matches between two teams.  Each team consists of several professional players.  The games in which these teams and players participate tend to require multiple players per team in games such as CS:GO, League of Legends, Dota 2, or several other popular titles.

Athletes and teams in traditional sports are watched and celebrated by millions of people for their skills and achievements.  Esports athletes and teams are no different.  With the rise of viewing platforms like Youtube and Twitch, esports and gaming fans have been able to consume the content that they desire.  By 2019, over 427 million people will view esports events in some manner.  Further entrenching esports into the cultural landscape, the market for wagering upon esports has also exploded with over US$23 billion expected to be wagered on esports by 2022.  Consumers are able to do this by accessing licensed, regulated and reputable esports betting sites.

How esports is sure to change the built landscape?

Esports is certainly the sport that epitomizes the millennial generation.  Although most users and players either play or watch these games from their own homes, the rise of professional esports means that there has been a rise in demand for venues that can hold esports events so that spectators can actually attend an event much like a traditional basketball or ice hockey match, or simply bring aspiring esports athletes together to practice their preferred game of interest.

In Arlington Texas, a $10 million esports only facility called ‘Populous’ is under construction.  The 100,000 square feet complex will house several esports services including an arena for 1,000 spectators.  In California, ‘Esports Arena’ has opened several esports facilities, attracting tens of thousands of affluent local gamers and esports fans.  In London and Tokyo, Red Bull, known for their energy drinks, has invested in building esports studios or ‘Spheres’.  Dubai is planning to tap into the growing esports market with the development of its X-Stadium, its own esports-only arena and facility.  Universities and colleges around the world have recognized that esports must now be part of their recreation facilities in order to attract students.  

Any way you look at the subject, esports is driving growth and investment and is a new sector that deserves our attention and will have an important place in our evolving urban environment.