eSports may have gotten their start decades ago along the fringes of gaming, but now they are increasingly mainstream. This multi-million-dollar industry continues to grow every year, and it’s growth shows no signs of slowing.
But with increased growth comes an increase in the need for regulation and oversight. When it comes to eSports, who is making the rules?
Have you ever wondered whether eSports are governed? Surprisingly, eSports operate almost entirely independently from oversight.
In this post, we’ll talk about why there is a lack of regulation in this industry and what the future of regulation looks like for eSports.
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Overview of Esports as a Growing Industry
The eSports industry has seen some incredible growth over the last few years. Much of this growth was fueled by an exponential increase in viewership during the pandemic.
Even while in-person attendance waned, live streaming of events skyrocketed, but pandemic viewing aside, even before 2020, the audience had been growing.
The growth of the eSports audience has caught the attention of brands and marketers who are eager to tap into this niche. As a result, there has been an impressive increase in revenue.
The eSports industry was valued at over $1 billion in 2021, and projections expect revenue to grow to over $1.64 billion by 2024. Clearly, this is more than a passing trend. It’s a legit industry that will continue to rival traditional sports in both revenue and fanbase.
Does The NCAA Govern College eSports?
With all its similarities to traditional sports (teams, leagues, championships, and student athletes), it would make sense that an organization like the NCAA would be in charge of governing them at the collegiate level.
But the NCAA has no interest in governing eSports as they made clear in a 2019 statement stating it would not take charge of college-level eSports.
Their main reason for refusing this role was that they didn’t want gamers to accept a scholarship after already being established as a sponsored, branded and dollar-earning semi-professional. They prefer to work with students who are purely at the amatuer level.
The NCAA also cited Title IX issues and the level of violence in some games as their reasons for not taking control of collegiate eSports.
It’s debatable whether these are actually good reasons for the NCAA to steer clear of managing eSports, but if they were to change their policies to allow for it in the future, it would benefit eSports in several ways:
- Competition would be better regulated.
- Players would be more diverse, and inclusion would be a priority.
- It would provide better outcomes for students’ overall well-being.
We can speculate that these things would happen because the NCAA already has a track record of these types of outcomes, not to mention their well-established resources for student athletes. Also, if the NCAA were to take over college eSports, it would improve the reputation and legitimacy of the eSports as a whole.
Is There Professional eSports Oversight?
While several organizations have taken on the role of regulating eSports within certain regions and/or games, they have not been officially recognized as authoritative by the entire eSports community.
At the moment, no one central governing body exists to oversee all eSports on an international level. However, individual nations have successfully passed legislation in an attempt to apply some sort of regulatory measures on this fast-growing industry.
There has been some talk recently of adopting similar measures in the United States, but so far, nothing has happened to start the ball rolling. That being said, the state of Nevada is currently drafting legislation for a governing body that will oversee eSports and issue licenses in their state.
How Are International eSports Governed?
While there may be no official oversight of all eSports on an international level, there are a few different federations who are currently acting as governors, all arguably vying for the title of total control of the global arena. Here is a brief list of who they are and what they do.
- International Esports Federation (IESF). This is the oldest of the bunch. They organize events featuring National Teams from their 56 member nations. The teams compete to qualify for a main event. Because they allow only amateur players, their events don’t tend to draw much interest from serious eSports fans.
- Asian Electronic Sports Federation. This is the self-proclaimed “sole authority for electronic sports throughout Asia.” They have 45 member nations, some of whom are also members of the IESF.
- European Esports Federation. Their goal is to be a moderator rather than a governing body, yet they have stated that they do not want to be connected with the IESF at present. They have 17 member nations, all from Europe.
- World Esports Association. This one was not founded by national governing bodies; rather it was created by the professional teams themselves in an attempt to set the rules. In addition to enforcement and arbitration, they seek to manage player representation and create standardized regulations.
The Future of Oversight in eSports
We’ve seen that currently, eSports operate almost entirely independently from oversight. Like the wild west, it has expanded rapidly and as a result, there seem to be few who can keep it under control or protect the well-being of the trailblazers who are making a name for themselves in the industry .
However, in upcoming years it’s likely that many rules and regulations will be implemented into eSports, and precautions will be adopted to protect players from burnout.
We hope you’re now a little bit more knowledgeable about eSports and how they are governed. Do you have any questions, thoughts or opinions to add? Let us know in the comments!