Esports in Austria

plan-B perspectives

A Comparison to the international Market

by Christoph “beertree“ Bierbaum

 

Nowadays it’s no secret that a few people that work in the esports industry make tons of money. Some even made billions out of either managing a team, playing or streaming a game or creating content around esports. In Austria we are very far away from those sums due to multiple reasons. One of them being the little population our country has in comparison to other way bigger countries like our neighbours in germany for example.

Another one is the misunderstanding of the market and the potential it bears.

Gaming market has grown huge over the years. In 2021 the estimated number of gamers will rise to 2,7 billion people worldwide. Until now the most common devices used to play video games were consoles and computers but since smartphones got better and better mobile gaming started to boom as well. A lot of big video game companies try to use this niche to introduce new games only availabe for mobile or make mobile versions out of games originally designed for consoles and computers. 

Recent events around Covid-19 did not affect all of the gaming industry: a lot of games have been bought, consoles have been sold out and many games have risen in playerbase.

Still the virus brought issues for esports: offline events have been cancelled or postponed and it is challenging to host tournaments and leagues fully online. There are delays and production seems way less professional. If you compare it to classical sports though were most of the tournaments can’t even take place esports is way more adaptive.

 

In Austria the early investors for the esports scene were mostly already known international esports leagues like ESL but as there were no big sponsors it kind of toned down with time. The next investors that came in were mostly big tech or telecommunication companies like Magenta, A1 and Omen. Furthermore energy drink companies like Red Bull came in. Recently there has been a rise in sponsors, even smaller ones that came in to get their piece of the cake.

The problem about the esports scene in austria is that a lot of companies shy away from the most competitive games as they are often related to violent acts. Fighting games and shooters for example are often looked down by the media or made responsible for violent crimes when in reality those games have the biggest viewer base and don’t have anything to do with those violent acts. They are not simulators and they don’t harm people.

Besides there are a lot of games like FIFA were people still show aggressive tendencies even though they are not at all looked on by the media. Actually they are way more supported in our region than in any big esports regions only cause the player base is high.

What companies do not understand is that having a high players base does not mean that a video game is suitable to market via tournaments. What actually counts is the viewer base because that is what gives you ad revenue and value for sponsors and investors. A high player base only enriches the companies that produce and market the video games directly.

Another problem in Austria is that esports associations can not work for profit like they would want to, because they are not businesses but organizations. It is hard to get the ball rolling when you are reliable on sponsors and investors and can’t work for profit.

There are only a handful of people in Austria that actually make enough money from esports to sustain themselves. While if you take for example a smaller soccer club in austria you probably already get paid according to your needs while you have to have a secure job if you want to do esports professionally. Next problem is that a lot of austrian talent is moving away from Austria just to pursue their career in esports as they know that the austrian market is way too small for now.Countries like France, Spain, Germany, Denmark or Poland just have better infrastructure when it comes to esports in Europe.

There needs to be a push in Austria to evolve the scene. Especially the ongoing Covid-19 situation should be a wake up call for sponsors and investors to hop in. Classical sport suffered huge losses, esports tournaments will always continue and find a way to adapt as they are way more flexible. The interest is existing too. Only thing that is missing now is more people, sponsors and investors that help stabilize the infrastructure.

 

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