Inside Asian Gaming speaks with Evgeniy Bekker, Esports General Manager at leading betting content and data provider BETER, about the growth of esports across Asia and opportunities for operators in the region.
IAG: Asia is currently the leading region for esports and is projected to capture 50% of the global esports and game viewership, surpassing one billion viewers by 2025. What factors have contributed to this surge in popularity in Asia?
EB: There are several factors for this meteoric rise in popularity. The first is the growth of mobile gaming since the COVID-19 pandemic which saw tremendous momentum build behind esports and esports betting. With no physical sports action taking place for many months, consumers turned to the world of competitive video gaming which continued pretty much uninterrupted during the pandemic. This aligned with increasing smartphone proliferation and more sophisticated IT infrastructure being rolled out across the region, including high-speed internet and advanced gaming facilities.
The rise of professional esports in Asia legitimized the sport by providing gamers with a chance to compete at the highest level and earn significant prize money, making it more appealing to a wider audience. This steep upward growth trajectory looks set to continue as gaming and esports have become an integral part of the culture, with a strong community of gamers and fans.
The global esports and game-streaming industry is expected to grow from US$2.1 billion in 2021 to US$3.5 billion by 2025 which if achieved, would be 70% growth in four years. As a leading esports market for over a decade, Asia is expected to account for half of the one billion esports and game viewers worldwide by 2025. This presents a significant opportunity for esports operators and suppliers to capitalize on, but only if they can provide high-quality services for their clients.
IAG: Could you offer an overview of the current state of the esports market in Asia, based on your perspective as an esports betting content and data company? What growth potential do you see in this market and are there any challenges to be aware of?
EB: The esports market in Asia is growing rapidly and is now mainstream. This creates a great opportunity with plenty of potential to unlock still. Asian consumers, while exhibiting similarities to customers from other regions, have elevated expectations for entertainment. In this region, how players are perceived is critically important, and our customers know how they want to be perceived among their target audiences. This is why operators are so selective when it comes to the suppliers they partner with, often preferring those with substantial experience in the Asian esports landscape. This is an area where BETER stands out, being equipped with the necessary expertise and understanding of this unique market.
IAG: Some Asian governments seem to have mixed feelings about esports, praising it as a source of national pride while also expressing concerns about its role in internet addiction. How does this ambivalence affect esports providers operating in the Asian market, and what insights have you gained from your experiences there?
EB: There will always be two sides to a situation and esports and esports betting is no different. As an esports provider with a strong focus on Asia, we see it as our responsibility to ensure the integrity and fairness of the tournaments we run. Over the past five years, we have built a strong reputation for compliance and partnered with local governments and organizations to promote esports and develop the esports ecosystem.
We are passionate about and committed to creating a positive, safe environment for players to enjoy esports. As we have seen in other markets outside of Asia, esports and esports betting can be enjoyed responsibly so long as the right processes and tools are in place.
The Asian esports market is still young and evolving, but it is already the largest and fastest growing esports market in the world. As more and more suppliers enter the market, it is important for them to take a responsible approach and implement fair play policies and rules for the content they provide. This will help local governments, lawmakers, and other stakeholders across Asia to understand that esports can be a safe and enjoyable activity. This will make them more willing to work with international companies and embrace the benefits that esports and esports betting can bring.
Esports providers that are agile and adaptable and work closely with governments to develop laws and regulations will have a high chance of success in the Asian market. It is also important to educate the public about esports and its benefits while working on addressing key challenges.
IAG: We notice that BETER Esports offers proprietary ESportsBattle tournaments to local operators, with a particular emphasis on efootball, which enjoys high popularity among Asian bettors. What makes the efootball discipline so appealing? How does your tournament offering benefit local betting companies?
EB: ESportsBattle is our in-house tournament brand designed specifically for sportsbooks to capitalize on the growing demand for fast, high-quality esports betting content. Our eFootball content, the virtual version of the world’s most popular sport, has become a major esports discipline in Asia. Its popularity can be attributed to its simple rules, engaging gameplay, and appeal to younger demographics.
ESportsBattle offers over 30,000 events per month across a wide range of esports titles, including eFootball, eBasketball, eIcehockey, CS2 and Dota2. All of these events are livestreamed 24/7.
This makes ESportsBattle the perfect solution for Asian sportsbooks that want to offer their customers popular fast esports disciplines with live streaming, covering all major esports titles and best formats. This is especially important in Asia, where smartphone and mobile device penetration continues to rise, driving demand for fast betting content from bettors and fans, and boosting revenues for local betting operators.