The esports sector is booming, with a global user base of almost 500 million people as players, creators, servicers, gamblers, traders and scouts. Overall, people watched 100 billion hours of gaming on YouTube last year on more than 40 million gaming channels. More than 80,000 of those channels have at least 100,000 subscribers.
All those numbers add up. Global esports revenue is likely to top $1 billion this year for the first time, after growing almost 15% last year. The growth is being driven in part by pandemic-induced social distancing and the wider emergence of the “live-alone solo” economy, and also by rising interest from corporate sponsors and the expansion of streaming platforms.
According to Juniper Research, the combination of the global esports market and ad revenue from game streaming is expected to grow by 70% in the next four years, from $2.1 billion in 2021 to more than $3.5 billion by 2025.
But what those statistics fail to encapsulate is the impact that Web 3.0 will have on the esports sector. Open, trustless and permissionless peer-to-peer networks are likely to revolutionize the esports and gaming markets, just as the introduction of the home console did 40 years ago.
Under Web 2.0, esports are centralized through large corporations controlling the platforms, the games and even the tournaments. Through decentralization, that power can revert to the players, both amateur and professional, which in turn could allow the industry to grow exponentially.
The opportunities are huge. In China, one existing casual game matchmaking service already generates $100 million of transaction value per month. But in markets like India and Indonesia, large gaming communities are just beginning to open up to new ways of interacting. In India, for instance there are 34 million daily users of the action-adventure game PUBG Mobile.
GameTomodachi (Tomodachi means a friend in Japanese) lets game players find new gaming friends to play with or against. It creates a personalized gaming experience, allowing people to find other players with similar interests. While they are playing games, they can also chat.
Amateur players will be able to play with the emerging stars of esports, too. Known as “VTubers,” these influencers are either players in their own right or coaches. Emerging esports stars can now sign up to a new VTuber agency, NeoRad, which offers production, marketing and promotion assistance to popular gamers while they begin to build their digital presence.
GameTomodachi and NeoRad work together to help the whole universe of players and VTubers. A NeoRad influencer can sell a ticket to a fan to play a game on GameTomodachi, share pictures and video and even sell NFT goods.
This model is already proving successful, despite only being launched in May. Shirahari Uni, the first VTuber on the joint platform, already has 100,000 subscribers, 70% of whom come from Southeast Asia. Hosi Koizumi, based in the U.S., is also growing her audience rapidly.
Game-playing matching services such as GameTomodachi – and the amplification provided by NeoRad – will be one of the main propulsive forces behind the wave of growth of the esports and gaming markets around the world. They allow the true potential of Web 3.0 to come to life with a personalized, decentralized gaming experience where the value remains with the players and influencers, and not with the centralized platforms.