Tabassum Naiz - August 16, 2018
The eSports industry has grown significantly over the past years. Reports claim that it will increase in volume this year as well, becoming a $900 million USD industry in 2018. According to Forbes, the eSports industry grew from $493 million USD in 2016 to $655 million USD in 2017. Its audience grew by roughly 2 to 3 million in over the same period of time. This brought large-scale corporations into the fray like Microsoft, CocaCola, Amazon, Tencent, and others. It also brought cryptocurrency enthusiasts who are developing blockchain-based technology for the industry.
The gaming platforms that are interested in capitalizing on eSports use traditional centralized systems. Online gaming enables users to play with others, share their experience and even earn prizes, through centralized platforms. These however lack transparency insofar as prize distribution is concerned. Players may at times encounter difficulty in withdrawing funds and even experience fraud through third-party services. These aspects, as well as the whole betting infrastructure that surrounds eSports, can be enhanced by trust-less blockchain systems.
Blockchain technology has the potential to prevent fraudulent activity and there are startups that are promising to introduce blockchain technology within their platforms to combat the shortcomings created by the centralization of prize disbursement. These solutions can also be applied to the gambling side of eSports.
Mr. Bracken Darrell, CEO of Logitech international INC told CNBC that eSports has the potential to be part of the Olympics. He even said it could become the biggest sport in the world. With that, gambling and sportsbooks platforms seem poised to find a way into this growing segment within the industry, and blockchain-powered platforms will have the edge, especially because the gaming crowd is tech savvy.
Nevertheless, before blockchain-powered sportsbooks start taking over eSports gambling, the industry will need a little more mainstream acceptance. The CEO of Logitech is working towards that, albeit he does not seem interested in either gambling nor blockchain technology necessarily. Darrell said Swiss-based Logitech has already had talks with the International Olympic Committee about how and when eSports could become a medal event. During an interview, he noted the potential of eSports in the market. Mr. Darrell said: “In 1965, 1968, 1969, I remember the NFL and the Super Bowl, how big it seemed then. Looking back on that, it was tiny . . . I think that’s exactly where we are now in gaming.”
Other analysts including Christopher Merwin has also seen interest soaring audience. Merwin said that the industry can reach an audience of 167 million viewers this year. Platforms like Twitch have certainly benefitted from that boom and show the potential for further increases. This, coupled with new gambling laws as they apply to sporting events in the US and the potential that blockchain technology has to solve many of the issues in the industry, point towards eSports as one of the most interesting segments for the application of blockchain technology in the near future.