Electronic sports (esports) were gaining popularity and widespread interest in the Startup Nation even before Covid, as we wrote in April.
The pandemic set back some elements, such as in-person tournaments, but accelerated others, such as overall viewership.
One exciting development is that the southern city of Eilat will host the 12th Esports World Championship early next year if conditions allow.
The good and the bad
While esports blossomed this year along with all other digital platforms, physical events and tournaments have been on hold during the pandemic.
Aside from the obvious social and entertainment value, tournaments take place in person because different server speeds across the world can impact the performance of gamers, causing an unfair advantage.
However, viewership and participation have increased significantly in many countries. As this source indicates, “in March alone, Twitch’s viewership increased 10% and YouTube Gaming by 15%, according to a VentureBeat graphic on Statista. Furthermore, Twitch’s number of active users jumped from 4 million earlier this year to 7.5 million by September.”
Kevin Baxpehler, managing partner at Remagine Ventures, and an active investor in the space, notes that “everything ‘below’ the professional level saw a huge uplift. Twitch experienced viewership records, PubG mobile broke new revenue levels, Steam saw record user numbers and our [Tel Aviv-based] startups Novos and Madskil, an online training platform for gamers and a social betting/engagement platform for esports, respectively, saw a lot more traction over the past year.”
Angel investor Amir Shevat, cofounder of Reshuffle, reflects that “while in-person events got canceled, the gaming industry is booming! Every gaming startup I know is doing extremely well these days as everyone is spending more time at home and a lot of us are playing and watching more games.”
Israeli startups in this space
Shevat believes that “there are a lot of opportunities to innovate. This industry is still in its infancy in many ways like monetization, security, governance, and many other aspects.”
Naturally, Israeli startups have gotten into the esports space. In the past, we’ve mentioned Novos and Quarterback. Another notable startup in this vertical is StreamElements.
It offers tools for live video content creators and helps them manage their audience and track performance for their stream in order to generate revenue. Twitch is the platform most streamers use in esports, and StreamElements supports over 40,000 channels on the platform.
ShapeShift Gaming transforms viewership into an interactive experience and allows gamers to track the moments of each game. This has…