While the popularity of video games continues to increase, few areas of the industry are expanding as quickly as the eSports sector. At one time, competitive multiplayer gaming was mostly confined to parts of Asia, such as South Korea, but it has grown into a global phenomenon that is predicted to earn $463 million in revenue this year - a 43 percent increase from 2015.

A new report has been released by multinational professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that examines the eSports market and its fans.

More than half of the eSport audience described themselves as "hardcore" gamers and over a third of these are aged between 18 - 24. Somewhat surprisingly for what is often seen as a male-dominated industry, the survey showed that 22 percent of women said they were involved with eSports, compared to 18 percent of men.

It's worth pointing out, however, that the survey sample size was just 757 people and only 20 percent of them claimed to participate in or be fans of eSports.

When it came to games, first-person shooters were the most popular, with 63 percent of those surveyed saying it was the genre they most often watched. Second was MOBAs with 37 percent, and fighting games came in a close third with 36 percent. It was also reported that the vast majority of consumers will increase or maintain their level of eSports participation or viewership over the coming year.

While the small sample size of PwC's survey is a factor in the results, the report did point out the huge number of viewers that eSports are drawing. During the 2015 League of Legends Championships, there were 334 million total cumulative daily unique impressions, and the total amount of programming minutes gamers viewed on Twitch was 421.6, much higher than YouTube's 291 minutes.

In summarizing, the report pointed out six implications from the survey:

  • The eSports consumer represents a vast source of untapped potential
  • Though growing, overall awareness is still low
  • The mystique surrounding eSports sometimes intimidates new and beginner players
  • eSports is a market ripe with value, especially digitally
  • eSports fandom and loyalty are heavily tied to the content itself
  • Revenue opportunities are abound

You can check out the full report here.