This US esports industry report provides a complete analysis of developments in 2023 and research-backed predictions for the future. Our analyst discusses barriers to engagement and opportunities to overcome these, alongside consumer behavior and industry trends, and much more.

Below, we summarize the key areas analyzed and offer handpicked insights from the report.

Key Areas Analyzed

  • Trends in the esports and gaming industries, and how to leverage these in marketing.
  • Demographics of gamers who engage with esports.
  • What factors are negatively impacting gamers’ engagement with esports.
  • Which game genres players are interested in, and entry points to esports viewership.
  • What marketing and brand sponsorships esports viewers notice.
  • Gamers’ attitudes toward esports including gender-related issues and spending.

US Esports Market Overview

With 61% of North America’s esports revenue coming from sponsorship deals, it’s no surprise that the FTX and crypto collapse has affected the industry. FTX was a major sponsor of League of Legends in particular, and many teams are accordingly rumored to be selling their League competitive franchise spots to stem the financial tide. While competitive esports is not going anywhere, 2023 is proving to be a year of significant changes for the US esports industry.

  • US esports market size: the North American esports market generated an estimated $349.7m revenue in 2022.

Esports Industry Trends

Demographics remain stable, and there is room for change

Esports remains strong amongst the core demographic of male gamers aged 18-34, with 51% having watched esports in the last six months. Meanwhile, 40% of women gamers watch esports because they want to compete themselves, a percentage that is higher than for men. 

Brands can encourage women to live their aspirations by increasing sponsorship for women-led teams. Overall, there is a lot of potential to make the US esports industry more profitable by encouraging women to participate more and breaking stereotypes (see our Women and Gaming Report).

Gamers as a whole struggle with esports

Around half of all gamers struggle to understand the appeal of esports, and 43% of gamers state disinterest in the game being played as a top reason for not watching esports. With esports being generally more complex than typical sports, there is an opportunity here to simplify commentary to capture a wider audience.

Future of the Esports Industry

The decline of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) esports discussed signals a domino effect of changes in the US esports industry in 2023. While MOBAs won’t fade, their dominance may fade, paving the way for new games to take the stage.

This year’s Prize pools indicate that esports’ future could become less centrally dominated. Without the intervention of a new large investor, the industry will be entering a period of more managed growth between 2024 and 2025, creating opportunities for smaller games to garner attention.

In 2026 and beyond, without MOBAs at center stage, and as more diverse games and tournaments compete for views, the next big game or tournament that rises from 2023’s ashes will likely be leaner, smarter, and faster. Competitive players are clamoring for a new strategy title in particular.

Inside the report, you’ll find over 50 pages of content dedicated to exploring industry trends and opportunities for businesses operating in esports. You may also find our Gaming Trends Report relevant, or you can explore our Gaming Market Research library to find what you need.

Industry Definition and Brands Discussed

Industry definition: Esports is competitive video gaming at a professional level and in an organized format with a clear distinction between teams and players playing against each other.

Brands discussed: A number of brands and organizations relevant to industry developments and trends are discussed throughout the report, including but not limited to FTX, FaZe Clan, LCS Players Association, Panda Esports Global, and Nintendo.

Additional Features Included in Your Report

Different Digital Formats: PDF for conveniently sharing with your team, PowerPoint for quickly including in your presentation, as well as an Infographic and an Excel Databook.

Mintel’s Clients Portal: Our portal offers instant access to actionable analysis and trends pieces relevant to your industry that are published almost daily. You can also browse for more market research reports.

Expert Analysis from a Gaming Specialist

This report, written by Brian Benway a leading video gaming analyst, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the US esports market, adding expert context to the numbers.

Esports has become a popular form of entertainment and an effective marketing tool, but it has also attracted professional players who take the game seriously. As a result, it is no longer just fun and games, but rather a legitimate sport that must be managed with the same level of respect and professionalism as any other competitive league.

Brian Benway - Gaming Research Analyst
Brian Benway
Senior Analyst, Gaming and Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top Takeaways
                • Consumer trends
                  • Esports must focus on cultivating loyalty to ensure its longevity
                    • Figure 1: Recent esports engagement, by age and gender, 2023
                  • Esports and traditional sports can help each other capitalize on cross-over appeal
                    • Figure 2: Reasons for not engaging with esports, 2023
                  • Esports can appeal to different age groups by changing the presentation
                    • Figure 3: Esports entry point, by generation, 2023
                  • The future of esports may be impacted by Gen Z and Gen Alpha’s college aspirations
                    • Figure 4: Attitudes Towards esports and streaming, by education, 2023
                  • Competitive strategies
                    • Market predictions
                      • Figure 5: Global esports revenue streams, 2022
                      • Figure 6: Outlook for esports and competitive gaming, 2023-28
                    • Opportunities
                    • Esports Market Overview

                      • Dust still settling on FTX scandal’s impact on esports in 2023
                        • Figure 7: Global esports revenue streams, 2022
                      • 2023 hammers the esports industry from all sides
                        • Prize pools have steeply declined following 2023 financial troubles
                          • Figure 8: Top esports prizes, by game, 2021 and 2023
                          • Figure 9: Top esports games, by players and tournaments, 2023
                      • Market Drivers

                        • FTX, the crypto-crash and esports sponsorships
                          • Figure 101: TSM FTX announcement Twitter, 2022
                        • Commoditization of League franchise spots as damage control
                          • FaZe Clan from $725m IPO to penny stock with plenty of drama
                              • Figure 111: FaZe Clan Twitter, 2022
                            • Riot threatened to cancel League of Legends’ NA esports amid strike
                              • Figure 121: North American LCS player association strike twitter, 2023
                            • Nintendo Smash Bros esports scene collapses amid controversy
                              • Figure 13: Panda Esports Global, 2022
                          • Key Players in Esports

                            • Esports team popularity is ever shifting
                              • Figure 14: 10 most watched Twitch esports teams, May 2023
                            • Viewership increases for most, interest in Overwatch declines
                              • Figure 15: Top games to watch other people play in the last 30 days, 2022-23
                          • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                              • Figure 16: Consumer trends impacting esports
                            • Twitch mega streamers bail on ad changes for new competitor Kick
                              • Figure 17: twitch botched ad changes, 2023
                            • Capcom announces its largest prize pool ever for Street Fighter 6
                              • Figure 18: Capcom Pro Tour 2023 Announcement, 2023
                            • Market expansion via esports, NRG Shock and Bonchon partnership
                              • Figure 19: Bonchon and Shock esports partnership, 2023
                            • Nearly half of sports bettors are interested in esports betting
                              • Figure 20: Sports and esports gambling interest, 2023
                              • Figure 21: Esports gambling interest, by gamer segment, 2023
                              • Figure 22: esports wagering news on social media, 2023
                          • Fast Facts – The Esports Consumer

                            • Gamers want to watch esports of the games they love to play, with sometimes decades-long attachment, that should be celebrated and promoted
                            • Esports Engagement

                              • Eye on EVO 2023 for future esports performance
                                • Figure 23: Recent esports engagement, 2023
                                • Figure 24: Past year participation – Watching sports, esports, gaming content, 2020-22
                              • Esports is a young person’s game, streaming may help teams branch out
                                • Figure 25: Recent esports engagement, by age and gender, 2023
                              • Interests in esports extends beyond competitive focus
                                • Figure 26: Recent esports engagement, by gamer segment, 2023
                            • Reasons Not to Engage with Esports

                              • Esports isn’t ever going to be for everyone, and that’s OK
                                • Figure 27: Reasons for not engaging with esports, 2023
                              • Appeal to viewers who don’t know their Heimerdinger from their Ashe
                                • Figure 28: Reasons for not engaging with esports, by parental status and gender, 2023
                              • Advantages of urban living give gamers broader perspectives on esports
                                • Figure 29: Reasons for not engaging with esports, by area, 2023
                            • Competitive Game Preferences

                              • Virtual generals have strong interest in new competitive games
                                • Figure 30: Competitive game genre preferences – NET any platform, 2023
                              • Interest in competitive virtual racing could reach a new peak in 2023
                                • Figure 31: Competitive game genre preferences, by platform, 2023
                              • Shooters are highly popular, but popularity can be fleeting
                                • Figure 32: Competitive game genre preferences, by age and gender, 2023
                            • Esports Viewership Entry Points

                              • Gamers focus on the action, but might cut unobtrusive brands a break
                                • Figure 33: Esports entry point, 2023
                                • Figure 34: Bagel bites leans into meme humor, 2016
                              • Esports appeals differently to different age groups
                                • Figure 35: Esports entry point, by generation, 2023
                              • Women keep their dreams of esports stardom alive by watching others play
                                • Figure 36: Esports entry point, by gender, 2023
                            • Esports Sponsorship and Ad Awareness

                              • Esports uniform logo placement ranks highest for consumer awareness
                                • Figure 37: Sponsorship and ad awareness, 2023
                              • Having a presence at esports venues doesn’t have to be in-your-face
                                • Figure 38: Sponsorship and ad awareness, by gender, 2023
                              • Repetition may drill awareness into Competitor gamers’ minds
                                • Figure 39: Sponsorship and ad awareness, by gamer segment, 2023
                            • Attitudes Towards Esports and Streaming

                              • Esports is both challenging to participate in, and difficult to understand
                                • Figure 40: Attitudes Towards esports and streaming, by gamer segment, 2023
                              • Gen Z is changing views on education, esports must adapt too
                                • Figure 41: Attitudes Towards esports and streaming, by education, 2023
                            • Attitudes Towards Esports and Gender

                              • Women still need support standing up to the bad apples in gaming
                                • Figure 42: Attitudes towards esports and gender, by age and gender, 2023
                              • Toxicity may be best addressed by tackling the problematic elements
                                • Figure 43: Attitudes towards esports and gender, by LGBTQ+, 2023
                            • Attitudes Towards Esports and Spending

                              • Fathers are more likely to spend, but mothers might be looking to gamble
                                • Figure 44: Attitudes towards esports and spending, by parental status and gender, 2023
                              • Reselling in-game items often runs dangerously close to gambling laws
                                • Figure 45: Attitudes towards esports and streaming, by household income, 2023
                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                              • Data sources
                                • Sales data
                                  • Consumer survey data
                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                      • Abbreviations
                                      • Appendix – The Consumer

                                        • US gamer segments
                                            • Figure 46: Gamer segments, 2023
                                            • Figure 47: Top reasons for playing video games, by gamer segments, 2023
                                          • Achievers – Characteristics and demographics
                                            • Figure 48: Primary Achievers, by key demographics, 2023
                                          • Explorers – Characteristics and demographics
                                            • Figure 49: Primary Explorers, by key demographics, 2023
                                          • Socializers – Characteristics and demographics
                                            • Figure 50: Primary Socializers, by key demographics, 2023
                                          • Competitors – Characteristics and demographics
                                            • Figure 51: Primary Competitors, by key demographics, 2023
                                          • Who are the Other gamers?
                                              • Figure 52: Other gamers, by key demographics, 2023
                                            • US gamer device usage
                                              • Figure 53: US gamer device usage, 2023
                                            • US gaming frequency
                                              • Figure 54: Gaming frequency, 2023
                                            • Attitudes toward esports and streaming
                                              • Figure 55: Attitudes Towards esports and streaming, 2023
                                            • Attitudes toward esports and gender
                                              • Figure 56: Attitudes Towards esports and gender, 2023
                                            • Attitudes toward esports and spending
                                              • Figure 57: Attitudes Towards esports and spending, 2023

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