6 min read

2023 Gaming & Esports Recap #2

2023 Gaming & Esports Recap #2
Hey everyone

Continuing from last week, today we will finish our 2023 recap. The focal point will be science-backed results of individual factors found to impact gaming and Esports performance. Additionally, I’ll shortly recap some, for me, important business developments and news from last year.

🧑 Individual Factors

  • One of the biggest factors in any sport is the health of the athlete, and that’s why there are a lot of papers available in the literature. As a result, I dedicated four episodes this year to this topic. The main results were that:
    • most gamers feel “good” when it comes to their health status
    • gamers sit too much, have a higher BMI (Body Mass Index), and are less physically active
    • the more people play, the worse they health gets
    • gamers have a higher amount of physical impairments
    • the top 10% Esports athletes were more physically active than the other 90%
    • gamers have a worse mental health compared to the general population, including anxiety and depression. Stress and the lack of sleep contribute to the problem
    • Progamer are at risk of having burnouts, and stress plays a role in that
    • Full newsletter eposides here: Health #1, Health #2, Health #3, Health #4,
  • Age: In one episode, we look at the age distribution in SC2 by region and compared to other games. It was found that the distribution of prize money won per age is slightly shifted. Interestingly, 21 is the age with the highest earnings in all games, but in SC2 there is a big dip. Why is that? Full episode here.
  • Titling is something every gamer knows. In a broader sense, emotions are what drives a lot of human behavior. In this episode, gamer’s mood changes and the impact on performance were investigated. What was reported was that mood changes depending on a win or loss you experience. Emotions also influence physical markers such as heart rate, also impacting performance. Full episode here.
  • Self-efficacy was found, in one study, to positively influence gaming performance. The effect was found to be indirect, meaning that a higher self-efficacy impacted the player’s competitive anxiety (being worried about one’s performance) negatively. As a result, players were able to perform better. Full episode here.
  • As you can image, when playing on a big stage, stress is going to kick in. But this is not just the case in competition. One study interviewed professional LoL players and found that performance expectations, internal evaluation, team issues, social media and audience, as well as environmental constrains (e.g., unprofessional environment or competitive setting) cause stress. The authors also asked about what coping strategies players use. Some mentioned were: social networks, self-regulation, increased effort, and dissociation. Full episode here.
  • In order to compare stressors of professional players with the average, casual gamer at home, another study went and investigated. The authors reported that performance, teammates, external individuals, technical issues, and balancing life commitments were the top five causes of stress. Interestingly, the top 1% ranked players said that performance-related stressors are more apparent for them than teammate stressors (that were named #1 by the other top 40-99% ranked players). Full episode here.

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💵 Esports as a Career

In 2023, I presented multiple studies that dealt with careers as a professional Esports player. What was found that all players started by playing casually, slowing becoming better at the game, and developing an inner drive to go pro. When starting, players get better over time. At some point, their talent is detected and they enter the competitive scene. At first, they play for fun, but once they get deeper into Esports, entering the stage of an amateur or even professional player, they play for personal goals.

Once they are playing on an amateur or professional level, those who stick to playing professionally usually go through the stages of enjoying, struggling, achieving, and slumping (and sometimes recovering). This marks a path from struggling (make or break) to high-achieving, falling down and possibly recovering or transitioning out of it. The full newsletter can be found here.

What was also found in one paper was that luck plays a big role in if and how players get into Esports. Things such as values, culture, aspirations, mental strength, passion, talent, the environment, flexibility, media exposure and other factors playing a role. Also, black swan events like getting media attention may boost you up the ranks very quickly. Another important factor found in multiple studies was the aspect of mental strength and resilience in order to be(come) successful as an Esports athlete. Full newsletter here.

Talking about resilience and mental strength. Taking care of yourself (physically and psychological) is a major aspect in Esports and sports in general. Training is important, but at some point, putting more effort into your body and mind’s health and well-being gives you an edge over your opponents. Especially resilience was found to be very influential, besides having a support structure (friends and family, as well as an organization) in place.

Remember, similar to traditional sports, only the top 0.0003% will make it big (see the figure below). For everyone else, having a plan B is vital. Continue reading the full newsletter episode here.

🧑‍💼 Business Insides

Last but not least, let’s take a quick look at some important things that happened in the gaming and Esports industry last year. The probably hottest topic was the outrage of streamers and their communities about the changes Twitch made. Recall, Twitch made big changes to their partner program, heavily restricting monetization-opportunities for streamers. As a result, many streamers left Twitch behind (that’s when Kick took the opportunity) or started multi-streaming. The topic became very much emotional. Most people didn’t think twice about what Twitch is. It is not a welfare. Twitch (bought by Amazon in 2014) made heavy investments building a platform, community, and gaining a high market share. Now, they finally took the steps to monetize it. That’s a common strategy, don’t blame them for trying to make money. Full episode here.

Another topic was the Esports winter, meaning that big money stopped flowing into Esports. As a ripple effect of the corona-pandemic and its massive boom, inflation and jobless numbers caught up to the industry. When you can barely pay for rent, food, and gas, buying a new shiny keyboard or chair isn’t high up on your shopping list. As those kind of purchases subsided, investors and sponsors pulled out their money. As a consequence, many teams started struggling financially and having to declare bankruptcy. The full episode can be found here.

An interesting little article was about Team Liquid’s choice of participating at Gamers8, even though they hold different values than the Saudi government. In a video, one of the Team Liquid founders explained their decision. In the decision between money and values – money won (again). Full episode.

Last but not least, in 2022 and 2023 we saw multiple game companies putting effort into developing RTS games. The scene hadn’t gotten much attention over the past years with Blizzard reducing their effort to zero. ZeroSpace, Age of Empires, Rome, Stormgate – just to name a few – made their debut or will soon ™. We also saw the community contributing to Stormgate and ZeroSpace by putting money into the development process through crowdfunding. So far, Stormgate appears to have the upper hand. Let’s see who can put out the better product and puts itself on top of the RTS Esports Olympus. Full episode.

🕹️ Sum-up & Outlook

2023 was a great year for me. I started this newsletter and am happy with how much it has been grown. So thank you everyone for your interest in what I'm doing!

Let's work towards an even better 2024 with more gaming and Esports science. I can already tell you that some things will change with regards to this newsletter. I also have something new in mind that I'll be sharing soon (hopefully) that is already in development. So stay tuned.

To an awesome 2024.


Christian 🌝
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