Competitive gaming has been taking place since video gaming first became mainstream in the late 20th century. However, it’s undergone a significant transformation over the past decade or so. eSports is now a viable segment in the global gaming industry, generating over $1 billion in annual revenues. According to Newzoo, the global eSports audience in 2022 stood at an estimated 532 million.  

Arguably, the biggest growth period for eSports came in 2020, as traditional live sporting events closed their doors. Although that initial surge in popularity is yet to be seen again, interest in competitive gaming still remains high. In this article, we’ll discuss what the eSports industry has in store for 2023. 

Mainstream eSports Acceptance  

The eSports industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years. The biggest developments have occurred as a result of the mainstream acceptance of professional gaming. In turn, this has seen investment in the industry increase and new markets such as eSports betting have emerged in response. In fact, a number of leading bookmakers are now offering free wagers and other promotions via OddsChecker that gaming fans can use on their favourite eSports events.  

Furthermore, the increasing popularity of mobile gaming has enabled a broader audience to participate in eSports, with games like PUBG Mobile and Garena’s Free Fire leading the charge. The eSports industry has been accepted as a legitimate form of competition, to the extent that professional gaming debuted as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games and was part of the UK’s Commonwealth Games in that same year.  

Key eSports Developments in 2023  

An Era of Indie Gaming 

The rise of mobile eSports could well be making way for the era of indie gaming in 2023.  

Indie games, or independent games, are created by individuals or small development teams without financial or technical assistance from major game publishers. As the year progresses, we can expect to see a surge in the creation of indie eSports games, a number of which are inspired by the Roblox platform.  

Indie gaming could also play a key role in democratising eSports and competitive gaming by enabling communities to program and play games created from within.  

Indie releases to keep an eye on in 2023 include:  

  • Broken Roads – This turn-based RPG with a post-apocalyptic theme pays homage to the early Fallout games.  
  • Manor Lords – A medieval-themed strategy game for the PC from Slavic Magic 
  • Valheim – Based on Norse Mythology, this multiplayer survival game was built on the Unity gaming engine 

eSports in the Metaverse 

The concept of the metaverse is already causing a buzz in most digital industries, thanks to its ability to fuse together augmented reality, social media, digital gaming, and DeFi and cryptocurrency. While the first generation of metaverses has already begun to emerge, there’s potential for the sector to expand in the coming months and integrate eSports gaming competitions.  

We’ve already seen how popular virtual events are with the global gaming community. Titles like Fortnite have held a series of in-game concerts featuring popular artists from all over the globe. In the future, eSports tournaments may well move from physical venues to virtual spaces in which spectators can follow the action in VR realms.  

More Support for Women in eSports 

The roaring success of Valorant’s Game Changers offers a compelling template for other gaming leagues to follow suit in 2023. Riot Games, for instance, has already announced that it will hold a separate women’s tournament for League of Legends. While it’s taken some time for women’s eSports to gain traction, it could be a major industry development in the months and years to come. 

The eSports sector now has a fantastic opportunity to improve gender parity by bringing women into the field. Until now, female audiences have been under-represented, typically due to factors such as a lack of awareness of women as a target market and few female role modes. However, according to Forbes, women constitute approximately 41% of the gaming population in the United States, while in Asia, which accounts for 48% of worldwide gaming revenue, the percentage is between 40-45%.