Since COVID-19 forced most of the world indoors, esports has seen a staggering uptick in new fans, participants, and partners – many from outside the esports world. Esports One’s fan base has quadrupled since states began issuing shelter-in-place orders, with users spending an average of one hour and thirty-eight minutes on the site per session, compared to twenty-seven minutes.
As the “new normal” in our industry takes shape, we wanted to understand the cause of the growth and what we can expect in the future. So we asked our users to share their thoughts.
Our study found one important thing: the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the growth of esports.
With the majority of respondents (73%) saying they plan to participate in esports at the same rate they did during quarantine in the future, consumer interest and player growth will continue – even as quarantine restrictions lift.
Here’s what else we uncovered:
More Free Time and Less Social Interaction Prompted Esports’ Growth
When we dug into the responses, we received and were happy to see users spending an average of one hour and thirty-eight minutes on the site per session. When asked how long survey respondents played fantasy esports, the highest-ranking answer was less than six months (29%), followed by six months to one year (24%), so it’s quite likely that the stay-at-home orders have brought new people to the esports world.
One common explanation for the recent growth is that the shutdown of traditional sports venues and games prompted even more sports fans to flock to online leagues.
In fact, nearly half (42%) of fantasy esports fans surveyed also play traditional fantasy sports. But contrary to popular belief, very few survey respondents (8%) said the uncertainty of the future of traditional sports prompted them to join esport fantasy leagues. Instead, when new players were asked what brought them to fantasy esports, their decision to participate was prompted by:
- Free time: Because of COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders, respondents had more time to invest in hobbies like esports (37%)
- Source of community: Respondents were encouraged by friends to sign up as a way to keep in touch (22%)
COVID-19 Impacted Money Spent on Esports, But Not Time Spent
Despite economic uncertainty, COVID-19 prompted a surprising increase in spending. We asked how spending on video games/esports had changed since the start of the pandemic, and the highest-selected response was more money spent (44%).
Of those spending more money, their purchases involved:
- Video games (48%)
- In-game / in-app purchases (30%)
- Hardware (10%)
- Video game / esports-related merchandise (10%)
The extra free time induced by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders didn’t seem to have a significant impact on time spent on fantasy esports. When asked how time spent building fantasy esports lineups changed once COVID-19 quarantine began, most reported they spent the same amount of time (62%).
While 2020 has been difficult for everyone, and its impact continues to be felt, it’s clear there’s a massive opportunity to demystify the space and gain the attention of new participants. It’s exciting to see data that indicates ongoing consumer interest and growth even as quarantine restrictions lift.
We hope that many of the people who decided to give fantasy esports a shot in 2020 will stick around and join us for the 2021 Spring Split which will be here in just a few short months.