eSports on the path to success

Category: Games

© Bundesverband Interaktive  Unterhaltungssoftware e.V.

© Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware e.V.

Smaller LAN parties have by now developed into a whole new industry which is successful around the world. Numerous supporters and curious people are attending live events or watching matches and tournaments via streaming platforms. Even local recognized sports clubs such as FC Schalke 04 or VFL Wolfsburg have established their own eSports teams that are dealing with FIFA matches or Shooter Counter Strike. Digitalized sports has gained so much popularity that even non-IT and non-tech sponsors are becoming more and more interested in reaching especially a younger audience who can no longer be reached via traditional media. The performance figures clearly speak for themselves:   

  • By 2020, the eSports industry is expected to generate 1.4 billion Euros, according to forecasts
  • 323 million people were watching eSports games and matches in 2016
  • 162 million, of which were 3 million Germans, are considered to be so-called eSports enthusiasts, that means they are watching matches or taking part in them on a regular basis
  • Live events such as the League of Legends finals held in Berlin in 2015 are completely sold out within a few minutes

Around the field of eSports a new industry has developed. Clubs and leagues have been founded, specialized creative and marketing agencies advise eSports teams, in particular in terms of sponsoring. In addition, young platforms such as Twitch and Smashcast specializing in broadcasting events via streaming also benefit from the new eSports trend. Other long-established media companies such as YouTube, Facebook or Amazon would also like to have their share in the market. The German sports channel Sport1 reports on live events and major tournaments. 

Despite all this economic success and the enormous attention from the media, eSports is still struggling for recognition in Germany. While eSports athletes need to achieve outstanding performance with respect to concentration, response time, strategic planning etc. and need to practice up to 10 hours per day, the lack of recognition on the part of the German Olympic Association creates bureaucratic obstacles. For example, eSports athletes from abroad are not allowed to enter the country with so-called athlete visa, government support for the construction of sports venues is not granted, and sports clubs do not enjoy any tax benefits.  

Nevertheless, Project Future initiated by the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises is supporting the promotion of the industry and start-up businesses in Berlin. There are already some businesses and examples in the city with focus on eSports:

  • Freaks 4U Gaming produces television broadcastings through video games and eSports-relevant topics
  • the Berlin start-up business DOJO Madness provides a kind of digital coach that is able to improve the users’ League of Legends gaming skills by means of data analysis
  • the eSports business ChallengeMe connects Counter Strike gamers who would otherwise need to rent their own server in order to play their games

These are just a few examples of the many start-up opportunities offered by the eSports industry and Berlin as a business location. 


Christopher Hohage

Medienwirtschaft, Medientechnologie, Games, Film- und Fernsehwirtschaft