By 2024, Olympians might be able to compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals in eSports. Yeah, you read that right. The Paris Olympic bid committee is considering eSports as a medal event in the 2024 Olympic Games.
Kotaku's Compete reports that the International Olympic Committee is chatting with eSports representatives to figure out eSports and learn more about the field. As it turns out, the Paris Olympic bid committee's co-president, Tony Estanguet, is pretty interested in the eSports scene, too. Here's what he has to say on the matter.
"We have to look at it because we can't say, 'It's not us. It's not about Olympics.' The youth, yes they are interested in eSports and this kind of thing. Let's look at it. Let's meet them. Let's try if we can find some bridges."
There's already a short history behind eSports in the Olympics. The 2016 Rio Olympics had an eGames showcase, where eight teams competed in Smite and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The Olympic Council of Asia is planning to have eSports at their 2022 Asian Games, too. So eSports has had a foothold in the Olympics for some time now. And if Estanguet gets his way, eSports might be interlinked with the Olympics' future.
eSports Doesn't Need The Olympics, The Olympics Need eSports
The 2024 Olympics is a ways away. Those games won't begin until seven years from now, nearly a decade from eSports' inclusion in the 2016 Rio Olympics. By then, eSports will have plenty of time to grow. So by 2024, eSports may be a major staple in the world of sports and gaming.
That may seem like a sweeping claim. But it's actually not. Research from the Guardian shows that eSports revenue is expected to rise to $465 million this year, up from $130 million in 2012. 2017 will also peak with approximately 385 million viewers, 191 million of which regular eSports fans. That's a huge growth for a field that's often considered niche.
And if that isn't enough, sponsorship money is flooding eSports. Seventy-one percent of eSports' industry value comes straight from advertising and sponsorships, Sports Illustrated reports. That's $350 million poured into the industry. And Coca-Cola, Buffalo Wild Wings, Arby's, Red Bull, and Geico have all put money into the scene, mirroring the same sponsorship commitments seen in baseball, football, and basketball.
Major corporations are looking at eSports and taking notice. ESports' legacy is being intertwined with major, popular brands. And while the scene still has a budding following in the United States, competitive gaming is expected to grow further by the end of the year.
In 2017, eSports already has profits and sponsorship money pouring in. By 2024, competitive gaming may have an even bigger role in sports. If projected growth continues in the next seven years, then eSports will be one behemoth of an international sporting field by the time the next decade rolls in.
And that means the International Olympics Committee will have to open the floodgates to the world of eSports. By 2024, there will be too much money to be made, too many sponsorships to attract, and too many fans to appeal to. It would be too costly to let eSports stay out of the Olympics.
For now, Olympic committees can sit and ponder whether eSports should be allowed into Olympic games. Rio alone revealed that organizers aren't quite ready to turn eSports into a medal event. But it won't be that much longer until competitive gaming makes the decision for the Olympics. There's too much on the line to say no.
Do you think the Olympics should include eSports? Share your thoughts in the comments below.