Fairfax Tech Talk Column

Fairfax Tech Talk Column

05.2.2021 Player up! - Fairfax Tech Talk Column 236


“Stop playing those video games and focus on what you are going to do after you finish school” is a common expression heard in the Dickerson household when yours truly is trying to get my kids to stop playing games and do their homework.

I would tell them that if they studied at school and then worked hard at University for another three to five years then they could pursue a profession that would make a difference in the world and earn a reasonable wage.

Then TSM (previously known as Team SoloMid) went and threw all my comments back in my face by paying Taiwanese superstar, Hu Shuo-Chieh, US$6 million for a two-year contract to…wait for it…to play games!

You might still argue that gamers, like sportspeople, are not actually making a difference in the world but almost US$60,000 per week certainly seems like a reasonable wage. Maybe I should change my tune and tell my kids to stop studying and start playing more games!

The US is the hot spot for gamers at the moment with the highest paid players in US teams making up to US$500,000 more than their elite counterparts. Even the average players are earning in the vicinity of half a million US dollars a year. To put that number in perspective, that is more than most Australian cricket players earn in a season. Facing a 163g sphere of leather and cork hurtling towards me at over 150 kilometres per hour while in the hot sun – or sitting in a comfy chair in air-conditioned comfort playing games…tough choice!

Interest in e-sports is surging in the US. Over the last five years, audiences have grown almost fifty per cent from 38.2 million people having watched at least one e-sports event to 57.2 million. Whilst there are many avenues to earn money and play games, League of Legends is the most popular game being played. Nearly 46 million people watched at least part of the world championship event held in October last year. Some traditional sports would love that audience. The NBA finals only attracted 7.5 million viewers last year and the largest audience in the World Series Baseball series was 12.6 million viewers.

As with any concept, if you have players, viewers and fans, someone will work out a way to turn a profit. League of Legends was first released in 2009 as a free multiplayer game which allowed for an easy transition from at-home entertainment to an international sport. Even though gamers can play for free, players can make purchases within the game. The average annual spend on in-game content was US$92 per gamer. It doesn’t sound like much but the revenue from these microtransactions has consistently exceeded one billion US dollars for the last few years. The prize pool for the League of Legends World Championships was US$6.45 million. Add the fact that teams have corporate sponsors paying large sums of money to be associated with the teams and merchandise sales on top, you can see that wages for players are going to continue to rise. Players will need to start early though. In countries like China and South Korea, gamers start competing as children and the very best train up to 18 hours a day!

“Stop reading that novel and get back in front of your computer and destroy that nexus!” If you put a glass to the front door of the Dickerson household you might soon start to hear these words being uttered instead of my previous words.

Tell me if you would be a professional gamer for US$60,000 per week at ask@techtalk.digital.

Mathew Dickerson