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Esports

Prepared by: Neil Burgin, Director, Australian Sports Commission
Updated by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network [pending]
Last updated: 17 August 2021
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer

Esports, or competitive video gaming, is a global phenomenon with a fast-growing fan-base and significant year on year revenue growth. With traditional sport participation currently facing many challenges, esports presents both new challenges but also new opportunities for sport.

Key messages

Emerging market

It is estimated that 5.5 million Australians play video games. Australian esports revenue was A$6million in 2020, likely to grow to A$16million by 2025. When compared to the national participation levels—age 15+—of cycling (2.4million) or swimming (3.1million) the market size of esports becomes more clear.

Recognition

While esports are increasingly recognised by specific countries internationally, they are not currently recognised by the International Olympic Committee or the Australian Sports Commission.

Integrity

The lack of an international governing body for esports makes the identification and regulation of integrity issues—e.g. doping, exploitation, gender inequality, harassment and behavioural issues, match fixing/corruption, and age appropriateness of games—challenging.

Background

What are esports?

Esports (electronic sports) is a collective term used to describe organised, competitive, video gaming, particularly professional gaming, which can be viewed by an audience.

Australian context

The primary demographic for esports participants is 16-25-year-old males. Of the 67% of Australian video gamers, approximately 33% have watched esports.

Esports and the Olympic Games

While the Organising Committees ruled out including esports as medal events at the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the IOC is committed to continuing the discussion.

Current practice

There are already many examples globally where esports has been used as a tool for engagement by government and individual sports.

Key areas of focus

Esport strategies
The attraction of esports is introducing traditional sports to new harder-to-reach audiences that gravitate towards gaming.

Broadcasting, events and commercial opportunities
There are many examples of sports organisations benefitting from commercial esports partnerships.

Participation
Esports can provide an inclusive participation environment, removing barriers to participation, allowing for greater consumer control and new entry points.

Performance improvement and health
Despite a perception to the contrary, many professional esports athletes enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle and follow structured routines to remain competitive.

Integrity
As esports become more mainstream, there has been an emergence of integrity issues that have traditionally intersected with sports.

Is this information complete?

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