Video games have been around since the 1950s when the “cathode-ray tube amusement device” was first invented. But now video games have taken a new form of entertainment as “professional gaming” has become popular in the last few years. The video game industry has seen much growth, especially over the 21st century, and the industry has realized a total revenue of about $23.5 billion in 2015. Of course, with this type of money flowing into the industry there must be consumers who are dedicated to these products and there are.
The reason that the industry has been expanding is because video games have extended utility from simply playing them to watching them being played. Major League Gaming is the largest video game league in the US and reported 54 million viewer-hours of streaming video watched in 2013. This type of utility allows professional gamers to be able to make money other ways besides just winning tournaments. They can stream videos of them playing, giving advice on how to play the game and other players will pay to obtain this knowledge of the game. But streaming videos is only one part of a professional gamers income, while sponsorships are the other.
Business Insider wrote an article on a professional League of Legends player, who has realized how much his career is dependent on sponsorships. League of Legends is the most popular competitive video game and has attracted attention from big time sponsors such as Red Bull, HTC, and Samsung. This professional gamer, Diego “Quas” Ruiz told Business Insider that his work for sponsors totals from 10 to 15 hours of extra work per week. This work is on top of the 60+ hours of practice a week, preparing for tournaments and other competitions. For Ruiz, professional gaming started when he tried out for the League of Legends team, “Team Liquid.” But it was after he had made the team that he found out the team was sponsored by a few different companies, which required him to do hours of promotional work.
Ruiz’s situation is the classic story of strings attached, where popularity comes with sacrifice. There hours of this sacrifice, but at the end of the day Diego “Quas” Ruiz is doing what many of us as kids dreamed of doing. Sponsorship work is also a sign of healthy growth throughout the industry as more and more money is being shoveled into it. These sponsors will attract more investment and continue to allow professional gamers to earn a substantial salary. Professional gaming may sound ridiculous to some, but just like any professional sport, one can view popular video game tournaments on America’s favorite sports channel, ESPN. The industry is booming and, right now the name of the game is sponsorship.