With sports on pause, one industry plays on

Why e-sports is thriving and hiring while other sports struggle

May 25, 2020 | Editorial | Jobs | Business
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It's a losing season for the sports industry

As the suspension of nearly every major sports league costs billions in lost revenue, leaving many of the more than three million people in the US working in the industry either laid off or furloughed, e-sports continues to draw job opportunities.

While most sports have seen their viewership disappear without games to play, game-watching platforms have seen their audience expand. The most prominent example may be Amazon's Twitch, which enjoyed a 23% increase in views this March.

As spectators grow, so does the workforce: e-sports related job postings on Indeed rose 43% during the first three months of 2020, including late March's economic hit.

How e-sports is one-upping the competition

Roles beyond "player:" engineers, support staff, marketing managers, IT professionals, and even team nutritionists are all part of keeping the game going, often at six-figure salaries. And with 200 teams and counting, there isn't as firm a cap on the number of jobs available as other sports leagues.

They're the only game in town: virtual competition makes zero contact games simple, and equivalent leagues to physical sports, such as the NBA 2K League or the ePremier League, may prove the best available alternative for sports-starved fans.

Community opportunities: recent events hosted via gaming platforms, like Travis Scott's Fortnite concert, have garnered millions of participants, keeping audiences "in the game." The infrastructure required to host these larger events could even present future job opportunities, as well.

So is it all high-fives and extra lives?

Resilient, but not immune: some job hosting sites have noted a decline in e-sports postings this March, especially in terms of higher-priority sponsored postings, indicating even a healthy industry felt uncertain at the onset of the pandemic.

Many lost sports jobs can't be done virtually: just as e-sports was selling out stadiums, the ability to host live audiences disappeared. For ushers, vendors, and other in-person, arena-based roles that make up 80% of the sports industry's professions, an e-sports opportunity won't be viable until the pandemic's effects have lessened.

And other roles are specialized: many high-paying remote jobs in e-sports are limited to professions with very specific skills, such as engineers and designers. For those already working in said fields, the transition might be simple, but for a less skilled worker wanting to get into the industry, the road will be much longer.

Will this be a lasting change?

Even prior to the pandemic, e-sports was in a state of rapid growth, with related job posting increases of 343% over the past four years. Recent demand has reinforced that outlook, leading experts to predict gaming will become a $200 billion industry by 2023.

In fact, the pandemic could be considered a mass adoption event, as millions discover videogames as an outlet for their competitive instincts. Microsoft alone has reported a 130% increase in multiplayer game engagement during March, and these new players may soon look to the pros for competitive inspiration.



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