Friday, April 19, 2024

Esports Tourism – A New Frontier?

People are unlikely to bat an eye if you told them you paid top dollar for a ticket to say, a Rihanna concert in the United States and you had to take a 30-hour flight there, but tourism, for esports? Competitive gaming might sound like an incredibly foreign concept to many. After all, why do you want to watch some people in front of computers or even phones to play some games? Couldn’t you just do that yourself?

The idea behind it is pretty similar to ‘traditional’ sports, or to use the first comparison, a concert. You’re going there for the people – whether the star(s), or your fellow fans – the spectacle, the energy of being there in-person, and any storylines you might get out of it. Imagine the excitement of a once-in-a-lifetime event, telling everyone you were there, and you have the exclusive merchandise to show off.

In Malaysia, there was ESL One Kuala Lumpur (featuring Dota 2) at MITEC, the finals day livestream on YouTube garnering 670k views in a month. Pokemon’s competitive scene has three separate divisions; just taking the mainline video game, Day 2 of its Liverpool Championships Regional League got over 100k views in 12 hours. These are just the optics for online viewing: if your event is ticketed like ESL One was, at RM89 for a single day ticket with an approximate capacity of 47,700 people, that’s RM4.245mil gross at minimum for a niche event.

Of course, running an esports event is going to rack up a lot of expenses, but the tourism potential is certainly there when people are going to be spending in the larger hospitality industry ecosystem for their own needs.

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