Thanks to extensive media coverage, the term "esports" now rings multiple bells in people's mind, and for good reason. Though esports may not yet be universally considered ‘mainstream’, they are just as capable of evoking emotions in its burgeoning following every bit as powerful as traditional sports.
EVO Moment #37 is a prime example of the excitement that watching two people playing video games can invoke. For those of you who are not familiar with this historical esports moment, I highly recommend you look it up!
Even as an avid, lifelong player of video games, I continue to be surprised by just how spellbinding esports are and how remarkably easy it is to be captured by it. The data certainly reflects the strong appeal of the industry, with investment in the industry of over $4.5bn in 2018 as cited by Deloitte in its report ‘The rise of esports investments’ published in April 2019. The demographics of the industry, as set out in the Deloitte report hints at the potential commercial opportunity of the industry, with ‘a global fan base of 380m’ of which, in the U.S., ‘61% of esports viewers earn more than $50,000 per year’.
As easy as it is to get carried away with the appeal and opportunity of esports, it’s just as easy to lose sight of the fact that esports is, in many ways, part of something bigger—namely, interactive entertainment.
In my opinion, this is an important distinction because interactive entertainment caters for many interests and harnesses a broader range of opportunities than those available in the competitive gaming space. For sustained growth, it is important to introduce new stakeholders to the multiple opportunities that exist within the interactive entertainment sphere, rather than limiting their focus on esports.
From an economic perspective, the esports industry has recently gained considerable attention growing at a pace of almost 27% YoY, reaching yearly revenues of more than $1bn in 2019 - that is, however, only a 'small' fraction of the interactive entertainment industry, which presents an overall value of around $149bn for the same year.
So what is it we’re referring to when we talk about interactive entertainment?
While it could be argued that there is no universal definition, one interpretation is that interactive entertainment is the merger of technology and entertainment.
Beyond esports, interactive entertainment includes game design, content creation and distribution, as well as the integration of innovative technologies such as augmented and virtual reality. That said, the concept of interactive entertainment is constantly evolving, and interactive entertainment is no longer just entertainment - it is far more powerful than that.
We all know the story of the interactive entertainment giants, present and long-forgotten. Every few years a new application emerges which doesn’t just improve the experience of an existing technology/process or way of doing things – it literally changes the way people interact with one another, effectively shaping popular culture and the development of human interaction and social norms, whether by default or by design. Think about the shift from MySpace to Facebook, to Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok - and the different social trends, from popular catchphrases to popular catch-dances, that each of these has thrust into popular culture.
Interactive entertainment has a considerable and demonstrable effect on the social grain of our society as well as on our every-day habits - including something as powerful as how we spend, and what we spend it on.
In my view, Tempo Storm's decision to delve into game design makes perfect sense – given (a) the impact that could be achieved by expanding across the interactive entertainment spectrum, (b) the potential income that may derive from it, and (c) the synergy between the different areas of interactive entertainment, why would you want to limit your reach?
I suspect that more and more esports brands will recognise the multiple opportunities that could come out of expanding vertically and horizontally into the interactive entertainment industry – and while Tempo Storm decided to branch out by delving into game development, other brands may decide to expand into other areas.
It will be exciting to see how the different brands currently populating the esports scene will go about it.
In the words of Tempo Storm's founder and CEO Andrey Yanyuk "... interactivity is the future of entertainment... and it's exciting to see that future being realised".
- What is your take on this matter?
North American organisation Tempo Storm has raised $3.3 million (£2.56 million) in its latest funding round as it seeks to launch The Bazaar, its own card game. The round was led by interactive content and technology investor Galaxy Interactive, a division of publicly-traded digital assets merchant bank Galaxy Digital, via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund.