When Will eSports Be Part of the Olympics?

Part of the Olympics

Electronic sports or eSports are popular, organized, and competitive video game events, attracting millions of fans worldwide and often culminating in international championships. The traction of eSports in modern society has seen the sector grow into a billion-dollar industry with global market revenue of around $1.08 billion as of 2021. Due to its current rapid growth rate, the industry might surpass its initial market revenue projection of approximately $1.62 billion by 2024. This has led to speculations that eSports may be included in the Olympics, with the main question being, when will this happen? Keep reading to learn more about eSports and the buzz surrounding its coronation as an Olympic sport.

eSports Timeline

The origin of eSports dates back to mid-1972, the year when gaming consoles became prevalent in homes. Eight years later, the first eSports competition dubbed Space Invaders took place, attracting around 10,000 contestants. In 1981, the initial Donkey Kong championship took place in Hong Kong. This tournament was competitive courtesy of experienced gamers and advanced systems used. Throughout the 1990s, eSports underwent a considerable transition that immensely contributed to the success of eSports. During this period, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter competitions became prevalent. These were closely followed by GoldenEye tournaments, one of the best first-person shooter games in video gaming history.

Advancement in technology led to the introduction of other superior video games such as Overwatch, Warcraft, and Starcraft which increased the popularity of eSports further. In 1998, a Starcraft tournament was streamed by 50 million fans. This led to the debut of bigger and better championships such as the Electronic Sports World Cup and World Cyber Games in the early 2000s. It also saw the launch of Major League Gaming, the world’s most popular eSports host. In 2006, a USA network tried broadcasting Halo 2, but their efforts were unsuccessful. However, this changed when Twitch introduced features that helped players interact with the audience during gameplay. Since then, eSports broadcasting and eSports tournaments have become lucrative businesses.

The Beginning of eSports Betting

With eSports tournaments on the rise, some trends started cropping up. First, competitions began offering substantial prize money to winners. For instance, the winning team of the International Dota 2 tournament in 2018 walked away with a whopping $11.2 million. This was just a fraction of the total pool of $25.5 million. In no time, sportsbooks started offering eSports betting services to gamblers, with most of them introducing bonuses and promotions to attract eSports punters.

This was similar to what was happening in the online casino gaming scene where the list of top brands offering free spins and no deposit bonuses lengthened with each casino using offers to increase traffic. Currently, CS: GO holds a significant share of the total money wagered on eSports, followed by Dota 2 and League of Legends. The number of bettors has also increased drastically, with records showing that approximately 6.5 million individuals wagered on eSports worldwide. The number is expected to increase in the next coming years.

When Will eSports Be Included to The Olympics

Organized and competitive video gaming has been on the rise. This has captured the attention of the Olympics committee, which for years have turned a blind eye to competitive video gaming. At first, numerous hurdles were preventing the International Olympic Committee or IOC from including eSports in their Olympics roster. One of the hurdles included that eSports lacks an international governing body. Furthermore, most eSports games are considered violent, therefore, unsuitable for certain Olympics fans. This is also one of the reasons the IOC sidelined top eSports competitions such as Counter-Strike and League of Legends when they were thinking of adding virtual games to their roster. Instead, they decided to go with regular virtual sports that replicate traditional sports. Some wrinkles have been ironed out, but the IOC is still adamant about including eSports in the internationally known competition.

Despite being sidelined, eSports continue to grow both in terms of market size and market value. The recent lockdowns saw eSports figures rocket during COVID 19 crisis, making it clear that the industry is big even without the Olympics. Even though some people speculate that this fact may make it hard for the International Olympic Committee to consider eSports, it had some positive impacts. Recently, the International Olympic Committee came up with a road map on how they plan to integrate virtual sports into their extensive catalog of games. From the road map, it is clear the IOC is taking a gradual approach and not an instant action, and this may take longer before you see any eSports at the Olympics.

The Closest eSports Has Ever Gotten to the Olympics

During the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Intel decided to take a broad step. As the world was preparing to watch athletes across the globe fight for gold, silver, and bronze at the Olympics, Intel was preparing a tournament of its own. The Intel World Open eSports tournament. A virtual competition based on two video games, Street Fighter V and Rocket League. The event attracted many viewers worldwide, with one Rocket League bout having around 300,000 streamers on Twitch.

With the Olympics underway, Intel reached an agreement with IOC, seeing the World Open eSports tournament stream on the official Tokyo 2020 website. This was the closest eSports has ever been to the Olympics since the industry became popular. What followed was a comment from David Lappartient, the chair of the eSports and gaming liaison group, a subsidiary of the International Olympic Committee. He stated that this marked a positive step between the world of eSports and the Olympics movement. No further remarks were added after the comment.

Will eSports Ever Be Among The Olympics Events?

Even though there is no clear relationship between the eSports industry and the Olympics, there are speculations that eSports may make a debut in the Olympics before 2028. The good news is that the eSports fan base is growing fast, with statistics showing that by 2024, the number of eSports viewership will be approximately 577 million. Most eSports enthusiasts are affluent and young. They range between 18 to 34, with some having an incredible following. This has made it easy to market the virtual competitions and increase viewership.

On the other hand, the number of Olympics viewership has been on a free fall. The Tokyo 20 summer Olympics had very few streams, with the New York Times terming it as disappointing. A significant speculation to this sudden drop in the Olympics audience is that Olympics fans are aging, considering the competition has been around for years. The IOC is also adamant in adapting to the current trends. If the viewership continues to decline, the Olympics will be forced to include eSports to attract more viewers and retain its status as one of the most-watched competitions worldwide. eSports investors have been advising the IOC to adapt to the technological changes to cater to different ages and sexes. It is, in fact, one of the best ways to diversify their portfolio and renew fans’ interest.

It is evident that eSports is making headlines with its uniqueness, altogether interrupting the current gaming scene. Despite its massive fan base and ever-growing market value, the International Olympic Committee seems to be creating reasons to keep it out of its portfolio. However, with the growing unpopularity of traditional sports, the IOC is warming up for the uptake, with reports indicating that they are gradually incorporating virtual sports in their portfolio. It is also clear that the IOC may need eSports to remain relevant in the current technological world. This means that there are chances of eSports being added to the Olympic games soon. However, it is unclear to mention how long the incorporation may take.


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