Newzoo recently published its “Games Trends to Watch in 2022” article, where it analyzed the biggest trends in e-sports and games live streaming for this year. According to the researcher, e-sports and streaming also have other emerging trends, mostly leveraging their biggest strength: community.
❶ BLOCKCHAIN WILL BECOME MORE PROMINENT IN E-SPORTS
Sponsorships have always been the foundation of e-sports revenues. The e-sports audience is young, diverse, and growing, making the industry a magnet for attracting brand sponsorships. The e-sports market relies heavily on sponsorship, which accounted for almost 60% of its revenues last year.
Putting all your eggs in one basket can be risky, which is why e-sports companies are striving to diversify their revenue streams. To that end, teams and organizers are increasingly exploring ways to monetize fans directly. Many are eyeing blockchain tech and NFTs to achieve these goals, and the segment is already starting to see new e-sports business models emerge. So far, e-sports audiences have been largely positive about blockchain and NFTs.
“E-sports’s relationship with blockchain and NFT is already beginning to flourish, and we expect to see even more developments throughout the year,” Newzoo noted.
❷ MOBILE E-SPORTS WILL CONTINUE TO GROW
Mobile e-sports has taken the market by storm, following years of console and PC titles dominating. Thanks to its low barriers to entry, mobile has captured millions of e-sports fans around the globe. Most people in mature and emerging markets have smartphones, and mobile games typically have low specs, helping mobile e-sports flourish.
What is more, improving 5G tech will strengthen mobile internet connections and make e-sports play more stable and viable. A robust and consistent internet connection is essential for mobile e-sports to thrive.
While mobile e-sports is quickly making a name for itself in growth markets across Latin America and Southeast Asia, more mature markets are also getting involved as new mobile games enter the market with an e-sports focus. Battle royale titles in particular are paving the way.
❸ BLURRED LINES BETWEEN E-SPORTS AND TRADITIONAL SPORTS
E-sports’ young audience has long attracted sponsorships and attention from sports brands. At the same time, e-sports has learned many a lesson from traditional sports. Now, the two friendly markets are beginning to unify.
The synergies between e-sports and traditional e-sports are becoming more apparent as each tests the other’s waters. For example, e-sports teams are evolving into lifestyle brands (brands that are parts of consumers’ everyday lives). E-sports teams are dabbling in music, skateboarding, rollerblading, and chess, and organizers are tapping into new audiences by partnering with content creators and organizations across these non-gaming areas.
“The divide between traditional sports and esports was once straightforward. Now, that line is blurring and will continue to distort this year. Both e-sports and traditional sports will benefit,” Newzoo said.
❹ CO-STREAMING WILL GROW INTO A COMMON MARKETING STRATEGY
Democratizing e-sports broadcasts and allowing co-streaming has become extremely popular. It is a proven tool for publishers and organizers to exponentially grow their total addressable audience. At the same time, allowing co-streaming is more transparent and shows trust in the content—two things e-sports and streaming fans appreciate.
While the benefits of co-streaming are huge, there are advantages to centralizing broadcasts on internal channels. Keeping broadcasts in-house gives publishers and organizers more control across the board. Fundamental viewership metrics like average minute audience (AMA) and peak viewership—key bargaining chips for sponsorship deals—are far easier to track when all viewership is centralized. What is more, publishers and organizers retain more control over the content and its message.
“During a co-stream, a content creator could say something that doesn’t fit with the organizer’s brand and message, potentially affecting sponsorships. Nevertheless, many companies tolerate these risks to boost their viewership and reach,” commented Luca Chiovato, a Market Analyst at Newzoo focusing on the live streaming market.
“This year, we expect co-streaming to become a key component in the media mix strategy of several brands and products — inside games and out. Of course, publishers themselves will continue to leverage the audience of the biggest influencers to boost e-sports’ reach,” Newzoo’s report remarked.
❺ LIVE-STREAMING PLATFORMS WILL BECOME EVEN MORE INTERACTIVE
In 2021, interactive show “Rival Peak” took Facebook Gaming by storm, generating over 100 million minutes watched in just three months. The show featured AI-controlled contestants. Viewers from over 70 countries could help these virtual contestants solve puzzles and help them progress. Experiences like this leverage two of live streaming’s strongest pillars: immediacy and community.
“In the next 12 months, we expect more platforms and publishers to announce live-streaming-first solutions leveraging creator-viewer interaction. Such experiences will help make the broadcasts even more engaging and memorable, providing additional avenues for directly monetizing fans,” Newzoo’s report concluded.