Once regarded as a mere trend that possibly had no long legs, the esports industry -- that which involves the professional competition surrounding video games -- is here to stay and constantly growing. In early November, esports.com Co-Founder Benjamin Föckersperger cited a bold prediction about the future for the esports industry.

"Esports is $1 billion industry and expected to grow to $1.5 billion in 2020 according to research institutes Newzoo and Gardner. Why? Because it's so close to sports," said Föckersperger.

As the esports industry is growing, the lines between the online gaming world and the "real" world continue to blur. Here are 3 examples.

1. Esports is expected to become an Olympic sport.

The fact that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is at all discussing any parameters surrounding the possible inclusion of esports as an Olympic sport is monumental for the industry. Earlier this year, the IOC said that if esports are to be included in future Olympic Games, then the industry needs to first put together a worldwide governing federation and ensure that it will not infringe on the Olympic values.

While the IOC has yet to officially give the green light to esports, that is not preventing big brands from getting the IOC comfortable with its inclusion. For instance, Intel, a partner of the IOC, will hold a tournament leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics. This is a step in the right direction for an industry that hopes to one day have competitors competing for gold.

2. In-game assets are becoming real-world assets.

Some companies are in the business of trying to convert items acquired in video games to real-world assets. Take Dmarket as an example, which is a decentralized marketplace that seeks to be able to convert every virtual item. With one click, a user can sell, exchange or evaluate virtual items among all games on any platform, and it is all manufactured on the blockchain.

3. Sports professionals are moving from the real world to esports.

One final sign that the virtual world is growing closer to reality is that we are witnessing many professional athletes and executives of traditional sports entities enter the world of esports. An example is Marshall Zelaznik, who went from a 10-year career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to unemployment and just recently joining MLG.tv, a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, as its new global head of business development. Jobs in sports have become just as, if not more, enticing as many found in more traditional 

Published on: Dec 16, 2017