The video game industry experienced unprecedented growth throughout the pandemic, with annual revenues growing from $120B in 2020 to $180B in 2021. And although people across all age groups are engaged in the industry, the key demographic that Esports companies need to target continues to be Gen Z. For example, a recent report from Helixa, a market research company, found that gaming is still Gen Z’s top interest, meaning this demographic is critical in the advancement and stability of the Esports industry. So, let’s take a closer look at why companies such as X1 Esports need to target this key demographic and how they can do so to continue driving innovation and championing change.
Esports rapidly advanced during the pandemic compared to other industries due to individuals being off work and staying home. Therefore, online gaming became a way for Gen Z’s to still enjoy the social element and connection of play even if they couldn’t physically hang out with one another. According to Matt Schmidt, writing for Forbes, “Many people are using video game platforms similar to social media websites. People can communicate, strategize, and forge relationships in a much more meaningful way. Some people develop lifelong friendships from video gaming platforms.” The perfect storm of the pandemic brought an influx of users into the online gaming space and allowed users the chance to push themselves in a competitive Esports environment alongside their friends. Now post-pandemic, Esports events continue to draw major crowds just like the top traditional sporting events.
Beyond the chance for connection, Esports also allows for the opportunity to experience competition from anywhere in the world. Competitive gaming has been around for decades, but never in this localized, easy-to-access format that Esports provides. In fact, there has been such an increase in player base and organizations during the pandemic that it’s become quite common to see oversaturation when it comes to tournaments, which can lead to more competition and lesser prize pools. Moving forward, Esports may encounter controversy due to missing protocols and deadlines because of the industry’s infancy. This is an area in which Gen Z feedback and innovation are critical to continue driving change and advancement in the Esports world.
If there’s one thing about the video game industry, it’s that it’s always reinventing itself to provide a better user experience across better technology platforms. For those of us (not Gen Z’s) who remember the video game crash of the early 80s due to the over-manufacturing of obsolete technology, it would’ve been difficult at that time to envision just how quickly the user experience was going to change. Now, with technology like Esports, the Metaverse, and VR, you can meet up with your friends worldwide and play together in an experience that blurs the line between what is real and what is not. For example, the realism of VR effectively makes you a character inside the world of these games and is something that could have never been previously imagined.
Although moving forward, the Esports industry may face specific challenges, such as catching up with guidelines and protocols for professional leagues, its future is certainly bright. According to Rolling Stone, it’s likely that the global Esports market will generate somewhere in the ballpark of nearly $2B in revenue alone in 2022. And the Esports industry isn’t slowing down, with a recent market report showing that 80% of Gen Z consumers play video games compared to the 42% of Baby Boomers from the same study. Ultimately, engaging the Gen Z demographic will continue to play a critical role in industry innovation. Esports companies such as X1 Esports ought to do this by emphasizing connection, competition, and championing change.