Gfinity's recent closure cast some doom and gloom on the local esports industry of late, but the country is in better shape than what most might expect. With the Melbourne Esports Open kicking off across Father's Day weekend in Melbourne, TEG Live managing director Tim McGregor shared some figures worth remembering when looking at the Australian landscape.
In a chat that took place before the release of IGEA's figures on the state of the Australian industry, McGregor explained that the Melbourne Esports Open, which is hosting the finals for the Oceanic Pro League and the Overwatch Contenders Finals in Australia, was borne from a simple idea. "Why can't we have a major esports event in Melbourne," McGregor said.
"The idea was based around two marquee events, built around finishing the local leagues and wrapping into them," the TEG Live executive explained, rather than adopting the franchise league model or creating a separate circuit.
But what's most important for the scene — particularly after the closure of Gfinity's Australian operations — is some of the fundamentals behind the Australian esports viewer.
According to McGregor, the baseline interest in gaming was already solid. "One in four people are a gamer, which is 5.5 million [Australians] roughly," he said. The figure is lower than the Digital Australia 2020 report, which was published after our chat, but it's also worth considering that esports and TEG focus more on core gamers, rather than the many casual/social gamers that make up Bond University's research.
A crucial stat from McGregor, and one not covered by the Bond University report, was awareness of esports: Australia ranked fourth in the world for awareness in esports, just behind China, Singapore and Germany, but ahead of the United States. He added that 25 percent of Australians aged 18 to 24 had watched some form of esports, which is especially valuable to the brands and media agencies that ultimately fund the tournaments, teams and players that make up the local scene.
"Traditional media is almost entirely irrelevant to the 18-24 year old male," McGregor said, echoing a sentiment from the Bond University report and one that's been frequently mentioned among esports and local gaming industry over the last few years.
A key factor for the long-term viability of esports, however, will be broadening its appeal to something more family-friendly: not just to grow the fanbase, but also the potential revenue. The latest Entertainment and Media Outlook report from analysts PwC estimated that esports revenue in Australia reached $4 million last year, and would double to $8 million by 2023.
Melbourne Esports Open is scheduled to run this year and in 2020, under the three year agreement between the event and JB Hi-Fi.
Disclosure: Kotaku Australia is a sponsor for this year's Melbourne Esports Open.