One of America’s most influential investment banks has directed investors to pay more attention to the growth of esports. The Needham & Company financial services firm says competitive gaming is no longer in “stealth mode.”
The recent successes of games like Fortnite and Overwatch have caused Needham to recommend investing in some of America’s biggest games publishers, such as Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard.
In 2018, none of the world’s top 30 esports pro gamers were from the US. This fact may have led some American investors to undervalue competitive gaming. But experts at Needham have stated that across the world one out of three 18-to-25-year-olds now plays games daily. Of course, this is causing the potential of esports to skyrocket.
The big titles and companies
For one thing, nearly 400 million people watched esports tournaments in 2018, and 250 million people played Fortnite. Such impressive figures will help esports bring in around $1.1 billion in revenues during 2019. That’s a staggering 22 percent increase from the previous year.
As a result, both Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts have been given a buy rating by Needham’s team of expert investors. Although many US investors have remained skeptical about the growth of esports, Needham has been quick to point out how competitive gaming is threatening to eclipse the success of traditional sports.
In 2018, there were 63 million viewers of esports across the US. That’s a comparable figure to the NBA’s viewership. Only the NFL and MLB had larger viewerships last year. And if you look at the picture from a global perspective, it’s clear esports is in its ascendancy.
For example, the 2018 League of Legends Worlds Finals enjoyed almost 100 million unique viewers. That ranks just ahead of the last Super Bowl’s 98 million people.
Esports’ cultural impact in America
What’s more, many American institutions are finally starting to get behind the competitive gaming phenomenon. For example, several prominent US colleges are now operating esports scholarships and special college gaming leagues.
In addition, there has been the rise of several purpose-built esports stadiums appearing across the country in places like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Arlington, Texas. These have aimed to provide a focal point for some of the biggest traveling esports tournaments and there are already plans to host the League of Legends World Championship finals in the US in the next few years.
The report by Needham was also quick to add that prize pools for esports tournaments have grown dramatically by 25% in 2019. This can be seen through the fact that this year’s The International Dota 2 tournament posted the largest ever prize pool of over $34 million. All of which points to a bright future for competitive gaming and the shrewd investors who make the move to invest in esports.