Understanding the Esports Ecosystem

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If you are new to the world of esports, there’s a lot of information to catch up on, starting with understanding of the esports ecosystem, the players involved, and the role each framework and relationship has in the esports industry.

1.            Publishers

Esports would not exist without publishers. Publishers or developers are the companies or people involved in the creation and distribution of esports. Popular publishers in the esports space include Riot Games, Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, Valve, and Electronic Arts.

Publishers may license their games to external streaming platforms or league organizers to bring a wider audience to their games. For publishers in the esports space, the goal is to develop games that evolve into esports.

There’s growing competition in this lucrative space for game developers to provide experiences that esports players and fans are looking for in competitive gaming.

In addition to developing games, esports publishers are involved in maintaining and improving the player’s experience by adding new game elements to the existing game. Additionally, they also provide periodic patches to improve gameplay.

2.            Players and Teams

Players are the consumers of esports titles released by game developers. In esports, individual players and teams compete with each other for different prizes.

In addition to participating in competitions, players and teams in the esports ecosystem create content on various platforms, such as Twitch and YouTube, to make more money. (We cover more on how esports teams make money here).

3.            Streaming Platforms

Esports are different from traditional sports as they target a hard-to-reach audience of digital natives. These are young people who are watching less television compared to previous generations, with 80% of esport content consumed digitally.

Streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube provide a platform for players, fans, and brands to engage. Players can create and broadcast their content displaying their gameplay for interested viewers.

This creates an opportunity for brands to connect with these players for sponsorships and partnership deals.

4.            Esports Event Organizers

Event organizers are the organizations responsible for creating and organizing esports events and leagues to support the competitive aspect of esports. Game publishers may launch their own esports events, depending on the stake they want in the events. Riot Games is an example of a game developer responsible for organizing its own events.

However, most organizers are third-party organizations that run esports competitions. These organizers sell broadcasting rights to streaming platforms. The trend of selling broadcasting rights to an exclusive streaming platform seems to be kicking off.

5.            Brands and Advertisers

Brands and advertisers are the biggest sources of revenue. Thus, these brands and advertisers work directly with brands, teams, or individual players to generate interest in their products or services.

Brands and advertisers also pay event organizers to showcase a brand or product in a highlight reel or through product and name placement.

6.            Fans

As with traditional sports, esports fans and viewers are an important part of the esports ecosystem. Thus, a shared characteristic of esports fans is that they are digital natives. Therefore, most of them watch their favorite games, players, or teams on digital platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.

Their motivations for participating in esports viewership vary. For most, their support is for the team or player. Sometimes, the fan engages with players competing in a specific game, such as in Fortnite.


In conclusion, like traditional sports, esports has evolved into an entire business ecosystem. Publishers provide the games while players, teams, and fans provide engagement with these games. Additionally, brands, advertisers, and event organizers support revenue generation. And of course, streaming platforms provide an avenue for fans to consume esports content.

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