Ever wondered how the Fat Banker got so fat? One answer could be because he/she/they ate the future for breakfast.
And none more so than our favourite financial behemoth, Barclays Bank.
Their Barclays Equity Research unit—the equivalent of an SAS long-range desert patrol operating on the frontier of financial futures—has come up with the stunning analysis that esports, to paraphrase the findings of one of their recent hallowed “Notes” or reports, “is a thing now”.
When Barclays barks, indeed whispers, the world of money listens.
Even though us kind folks here at IGF could have told them as much some years ago, the bank, once mired in scandal, has now emerged as quite possibly the esports gaming industry’s biggest institutional booster.
Bet now and bet big on esports, the 140 senior analysts of Barclays Equity Research unit are effectively urging.
According to their analysis, the esports ecosystem could be worth at least US$9.6 billion (£8.3bn), even US$13 billion (£11.26bn), by the end of this decade, compared to today’s addressable market of US$1.38 billion (£1.19bn).
Last year’s League of Legends esports world championship, for example, pulled in a peak audience of almost 74 million, argues Barclays.
With esports sitting at the nexus of cutting-edge technology, gaming, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, non-fungible tokens, the metaverse and that all-important elixir – youth, boom times lie ahead and the nascent industry has been flooded with deals, partnerships and sponsors.
All this, argues Barclays, makes esports the hottest thing since sliced bread.
The synergy is palpable.
Describing crypto as “the cousin of esports”, the Barclays boys point out that with this “virtual” market in place, popular esports leagues and brands can now “capitalise on the digital transformation to capture a new B2C revenue stream.
Role playing games, such as World of Warcraft, are centred on iconic collectable items, for instance.
Blockchain technology means that such items can be: “permanently stored on the Metaverse, and cannot be stolen or forged.
“[They] can be put into a cryptocurrency wallet to be sold if the owner ever chooses to.”
But then comes the kicker.
Cryptocurrencies allow fans to deposit bets and withdraw their winnings very quickly, “bypassing the need for banks and making esports more accessible”.
Perhaps, ironically, Barclays’ esports “Note” will turn out to be a chronicle of their own death foretold.