The Financial Realities of a Career in Esports

Updated On: March 02, 2024 by   James Connolly   James Connolly  

Venturing into the world of competitive gaming isn’t simply a matter of mastering your joystick or climbing the ranks of popularity; it’s about grappling with the financial realities that accompany such a path.

Like many, we’ve found ourselves fascinated by what constitutes a thriving esports professional, beyond just their dazzling in-game prowess. With the esports industry having soared to an eye-watering $1.38 billion in revenue back in 2022, our team has rolled up their sleeves to unpick the complexities of this digital arena’s economy for you.

In this article, we’ll lead you through an exploration of not only salaries and sponsorships but also astute investments and burgeoning growth opportunities within esports – knowledge that is utterly indispensable for any hopeful gaming aficionado.

So without further ado, let us guide you through envisioning what your financial future in gaming might hold!

Key Takeaways

  • Esports professionals can earn money through various means such as tournament winnings, sponsorships, and content creation. However, incomes vary widely with top players earning millions while amateurs might only make up to $1,000 annually.
  • The global esports industry generated an impressive $1.38 billion in revenue in 2022 with significant contributions from China. Despite economic challenges, the sector continues to attract investments and shows potential for future growth.
  • Investing in esports can take many forms including stocks of game publishers or equipment manufacturers, and eSports ETFs like NERD and ESPO. High-profile celebrities have also invested in the industry, which bolsters its mainstream popularity.
  • Professional gamers face similar struggles to traditional athletes such as maintaining peak performance under pressure but also unique issues like unpredictable incomes based on competition outcomes rather than stable contracts.
  • With the esports market’s swift expansion, financial opportunities abound for players, investors, and companies within this dynamic field. Engagement strategies include diversification of income sources and staying informed about current gaming trends for strategic investments.

What is Esports?

Esports, short for electronic sports, refers to competitive video gaming at a professional level. Popular Esports games include League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The industry has seen significant growth in recent years, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch tournaments and competitions.

Definition of Esports

Esports, also known as electronic sports, is the world of competitive video gaming where individuals and teams battle it out in various game titles for glory and prizes. We’re talking about organised multiplayer video game competitions that are taking the entertainment industry by storm.

Think of massive events filled with passionate fans cheering for their favourite pros who display incredible skill and strategy.

These professionals make a living through prize money, sponsorships, and even content creation surrounding their gaming exploits. In 2022 alone, this fast-growing sector generated a staggering $1.38 billion globally with countries like China leading the charge in revenue contribution.

With such impressive numbers, it’s clear why we see an increasing number of tech companies investing in esports and why financial aid options are popping up for degrees related to this exciting field.

Popular Esports games

Transitioning from the definition of Esports, let’s delve into the world of popular Esports games. From fast-paced shooting games to strategic battle arenas, the following are some of the most sought-after and adrenaline-pumping Esports titles:

  1. “League of Legends” – A multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that pits two teams against each other in a strategic battle to destroy each other’s base.
  2. “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” – A first-person shooter (FPS) game where teams compete as terrorists and counter-terrorists in gripping tactical combat scenarios.
  3. Dota 2″ – Another top MOBA game known for its depth and complexity, requiring players to control powerful hero units in intense team-based battles.
  4. “Overwatch” – This team-based shooter game boasts a diverse cast of heroes with unique abilities, encouraging teamwork and coordination for victory.
  5. “Fortnite” – Its combination of shooting, building, and survival elements has made it a global sensation, attracting players with its vibrant graphics and ever-evolving gameplay.
  6. “Call of Duty” series – Known for its high-octane multiplayer modes and competitive scene, offering various game modes catering to different playstyles.

Growth of the Esports industry

The Esports industry has experienced remarkable growth, generating $1.38 billion in global revenue in 2022, with China playing a significant role. The economic potential of the industry is evident as it’s expected to surpass $1 billion by 2019, making it a lucrative market for players, brands, and video game companies.

Despite facing economic challenges and dwindling funding sources, the industry remains promising and attractive to investors.

As we delve into the financial realities of a career in Esports, it’s essential to understand the dynamics at play within this ever-evolving industry that holds immense potential for growth and development.

The Reality of an Esports Career

Professional gaming careers in esports may seem glamorous, but the reality is that most players do not earn exorbitant salaries. The challenges faced by professional gamers are similar to those in traditional sports, such as intense competition and rigorous training regimens.g

Salary expectations

Esports careers can be lucrative, but salary expectations vary widely depending on factors such as skill level, game, and team success. Let’s break down what you can expect financially if you’re aiming to make it in the world of competitive gaming.

LevelIncome SourceAverage IncomeTop Income
AmateurTournament Winnings, Small SponsorshipsUp to $1,000 annuallyOccasional larger prizes
Semi-ProRegional Tournaments, Streaming$1,000 – $5,000 annuallyMay reach $10,000+
ProfessionalMajor Tournaments, Major Sponsorships, Content Creation$30,000 – $50,000 annually$200,000+, depending on winnings and deals
Elite ProInternational Tournaments, Endorsements, Large-scale Content Creation$120,000+ annuallyMillions, including sponsorships and bonuses

We must remember that these figures are approximations; actual earnings can be higher or lower. Sponsorships play a major role in a gamer’s income, and as teams struggle to turn a profit, reliance on tournament success and individual content creation increases. We’re witnessing a dynamic industry; the monetisation strategies and revenue breakdowns are evolving as the global revenue of $1.38 billion in 2022 suggests. However, economic challenges are reshaping the industry, influencing both players and investors. As we continue to engage and grow within esports, financial realities will dictate much of our strategic decisions and career trajectories.

Challenges faced by Esports players

Esports players encounter various challenges, including the pressure to maintain top performance levels and handle the demanding schedule of rigorous training and competing in tournaments.

In addition, they often face criticisms from sceptics who question whether esports should be considered a legitimate career. Furthermore, securing stable income can be uncertain due to fluctuating prize pools and the unpredictability of sponsorships.

To add to these struggles, many professional gamers experience physical strains such as eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other repetitive strain injuries resulting from long hours of gaming sessions.

Comparison to traditional sports careers

Professional gaming careers have distinct financial differences compared to traditional sports. Unlike more established sports, esports professionals often rely heavily on prize pools and sponsorships for income. While salaries in traditional sports are typically guaranteed by contracts, professional gamers’ earnings can fluctuate greatly based on tournament results and sponsorship deals. Additionally, the revenue sources for esports teams differ from those of traditional sports clubs, with broadcasting rights and merchandising playing a much larger role in their financial success.

In contrast to traditional sports careers, where long-term stability is often provided through team ownership or coaching roles after retirement as an athlete, the path to longevity in professional gaming is still evolving. This creates unique challenges when planning for a sustainable future within the industry due to its relatively newer status compared to well-established conventional athletic careers.

Investing in Esports

Understanding the industry’s revenue breakdown and current monetisation strategies is crucial for anyone looking to invest in Esports, so let’s dive into the financial opportunities this booming industry has to offer.

Understanding the industry’s revenue breakdown

Esports teams primarily generate revenue through sponsorships, tournament winnings, broadcasting rights, and merchandising. These income streams contribute significantly to the financial success of the industry.

For professional gamers, earnings come from various sources such as prize pools, game sponsorships, content creation, and more. The esports market generated a substantial $1.38 billion in global revenue in 2022, with China playing a significant role in this growth.

Additionally, diversification of income sources is key for sustainability within the industry. The hype around esports may be dwindling due to economic challenges and fading funding sources; however, it remains an attractive market for players and brands alike.

Current monetisation strategies

  1. Game Sponsorships: Professional gamers can earn substantial incomes through sponsorships with gaming companies, where they promote and endorse specific games or products.
  2. Broadcasting Rights: Esports teams can secure lucrative deals by selling broadcasting rights to media platforms, allowing them to reach a wider audience and generate revenue.
  3. Merchandising: The sale of branded merchandise, such as team jerseys, hats, and accessories, is a significant source of income for esports teams and players.
  4. Prize Pools: Tournaments with substantial prize pools attract top talent and viewership, providing an opportunity for teams and players to win significant monetary rewards.
  5. Content Creation: Many professional gamers earn money through content creation on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, where they create engaging gameplay videos and live streams that attract sponsorships and viewer donations.

How to invest in Esports

Celebrity investments in Esports

Celebrity investments in Esports can bring significant attention and financial backing to the industry. Notably, famous figures like Michael Jordan, Drake, and Ashton Kutcher have made strategic investments in various Esports teams and organisations, recognising the potential for growth and profitability within the sector.

Their involvement has not only helped raise awareness of Esports but has also injected substantial capital into the industry, boosting its overall credibility and commercial viability.

These high-profile celebrity investments serve as strong validations of the potential economic opportunities within Esports. They also contribute to creating a more mainstream appeal for professional gaming careers while attracting additional sponsorships and media coverage – ultimately benefiting both established players and aspiring professionals entering this burgeoning field of competitive gaming.

Financial Opportunities in Esports

When it comes to investing in Esports, there are various opportunities available, including types of Esports stocks and ETFs to consider. With the potential for future growth in the industry, it’s important to explore these financial opportunities for those interested in getting involved.

Types of Esports stocks

Investing in Esports stocks can be an exciting way to engage with the industry’s financial potential. Consider the following types of Esports stocks for potential investment opportunities:

  1. Esports Teams: Many professional Esports teams are privately owned, but some may offer shares to the public through initial public offerings (IPOs) or private placements, providing investors with a stake in the team’s success.
  2. Video Game Publishers: Investing in companies that develop and publish popular Esports titles can provide exposure to the booming gaming industry, allowing investors to benefit from the success of specific games.
  3. Gaming Peripherals and Technology: Companies that manufacture gaming equipment such as keyboards, mice, headsets, and graphics cards also play a crucial role in the Esports ecosystem, offering indirect investment opportunities.
  4. Streaming Platforms: As live streaming platforms continue to drive engagement within the gaming community, investing in companies involved in gaming-focused streaming services can capitalise on this growing trend.
  5. Event Organisers: Companies involved in organising major Esports tournaments and events represent another aspect of the industry worth considering for potential investment due to their influence on player exposure and revenue generation.
  6. Sponsorship and Advertising: Investing in brands that sponsor or advertise within the Esports ecosystem can offer exposure to both the gaming industry and broader consumer market trends.

Esports ETFs to consider

When considering investment opportunities in the esports industry, exploring Esports ETFs can provide a diversified approach to investing. These ETFs offer exposure to various segments of the industry and can be a strategic addition to an investment portfolio. Here are some Esports ETFs to consider:

  1. Roundhill BITKRAFT Esports & Digital Entertainment ETF (NERD): This fund focuses on companies involved in the competitive gaming industry, including game publishers, streaming networks, and hardware manufacturers.
  2. VanEck Vectors Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO): ESPO aims to track the performance of global companies involved in video game development, esports events, and related hardware and software.
  3. Global X Video Games & Esports ETF (HERO): HERO provides access to companies at the forefront of the video game industry, including developers, publishers, and streaming platforms.
  4. Roundhill Sports Betting & iGaming ETF (BETZ): Although not solely focused on esports, BETZ includes exposure to online betting and gaming companies that have ventured into esports gambling.
  5. Wedbush ETFMG Video Game Tech ETF (GAMR): This fund encompasses companies engaged in interactive entertainment such as video games, virtual reality experiences, and esports events.
  6. VanEck Vectors Social Sentiment ETF (BUZZ): BUZZ employs social media analytics to identify U.S.-listed stocks with positive investor sentiment which might include companies related to esports.
  7. Franklin Genomic Advancements ETF (HELX): While not exclusively targeting esports-related firms, HELX invests in biotechnology-based enterprises that could potentially impact virtual sports technology.
  8. KraneShares Electric Vehicles and Future Mobility Index ETF (KARS): KARS focuses on electric vehicle manufacturers but may indirectly involve technology used in virtual racing events within esports tournaments.

Potential for future growth

The potential for future growth in the esports industry is significant, with market analysts projecting a steady rise in revenue and investment opportunities. As the global interest in esports continues to expand, so does the potential for sustained financial growth within the industry.

With increasing viewership, more sponsorships, and growing demand for professional gamers and coaches, the esports sector is positioned for substantial future economic expansion.

Investors are eyeing the burgeoning potential of esports as a lucrative market for players, brands, and gaming companies. As such, there are ample financial opportunities available to those looking to capitalise on this rapidly evolving landscape.


Entering the world of esports presents an array of financial opportunities, with professional gamers having the potential to earn substantial income through prize pools, sponsorships, and content creation.

As the industry continues to expand globally, there is a growing demand for investment in esports, allowing individuals to capitalise on its potential for future growth. Understanding the financial realities of a career in esports can pave the way for informed decisions and successful ventures within this lucrative market.


1. What kind of salaries can professional gamers earn?

Professional gamers’ salaries vary widely, with top earners making substantial amounts from esports tournaments and sponsorship deals.

2. Is there financial aid available for studying esports?

Yes, students interested in pursuing esports degree programs may find financial aid designed to support education and training in video game careers.

3. How does investing in Esports work?

Esports investment can include sponsoring teams or events, funding gaming tournaments, or backing businesses within the industry for potential financial returns.

4. Can you make a living by coaching in Esports?

Yes, coaches’ salaries in esports can offer a viable income as the industry grows and the demand for skilled coaching increases alongside professional gaming.

5. What should I consider before joining the Esports industry?

Consider your potential earnings, explore different roles such as professional gamer or coach and look into educational opportunities that provide an edge over others when joining the competitive world of esports.

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