Let's Play! 2021: The Swiss esports market

A diverse esports landscape with a young and growing viewership

The sixth edition of Deloitte’s ‘Let’s Play! 2021 – The European esports market’ discusses trends and success factors in the esports sector and provides insights into the esports markets in Switzerland and 11 other European countries.
The esports landscape in Switzerland is very diverse in terms of esports preferences and is home to a broad range of stakeholders. More than half (53%) of the Swiss population is familiar with the term ‘esports’ – mainly professional competition based on video games, either online using the multiplayer mode of a video game, or on-site at offline events. But esports penetration is lower in Switzerland than in European esports strongholds such as Poland, Spain, or Italy. In Switzerland, 28% of the population between 16 and 65 has watched esports content and 8% of this population do so regularly. During the COVID-19 pandemic Switzerland has seen continuing growth in audience numbers. It will therefore be key for esports organisations and non-endemic sponsors to retain the newly gained fan and user base and convert them into paying customers.

New sponsors and brand engagement

Distinct esports ecosystems have been established in Switzerland, most notably with sports simulation titles such as ‘FIFA’ and ‘NHL’, shooter game titles such as ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’, and battle royale titles such as ‘Fortnite’. These titles have pyramid structures, from grassroots or open tournaments through semi-professional levels to top tier competitions.

Swiss esports organisations reflect these structures. There are amateur organisations – comparable to small sport clubs – which finance themselves, semi-professional organisations with few sponsors and professional esports organisations such as ‘Team BDS’, ‘Lausanne-Sport esports’ and ‘mYinsanity’. These professional organisations are often able to pay their players a monthly salary thanks to the capital injected by their investors and sponsors. ‘Team BDS’ is an example of a Swiss esports team which is present at the highest professional levels. It has acquired a slot in the franchised ‘LEC’ – one of the most important esports leagues worldwide – for CHF 29 million.

Not only are the organisational structures becoming increasingly professionalised, so too are the tournaments and leagues in which they compete. Many leagues are expanding in Switzerland, such as the ‘Swiss Esports League by’, the ‘Swisscom Hero League’, the ‘ eNationalleague’ and the ‘TCS eSports League’. An increasing number of non-endemic brands and sponsors from outside the sport are becoming interested in engaging with Swiss esports leagues.

In addition to the organisations and leagues, a third important pillar in the Swiss esports ecosystem are offline events and LAN tournaments. Offline events include established events such as ‘Switzerlan’ or ‘Herofest’ which are traditionally hosted in exhibition centres such as ‘EXPO Bern’ in the largest cities in Switzerland. These events attract diverse crowds from all over the country for competitions at all levels.

Top-tier competitions and events are not as prevalent in Switzerland as in larger and more developed European esports markets. There are few world-class esports teams in Switzerland. The Swiss market is built more on a large number of casual players. It will be interesting to see how the purchase of ‘Team BDS’ ‘LEC’ slot affects viewership and sponsor involvement in the Swiss esports ecosystem.

The Swiss esports federation (SEF) aims to further develop the gaming and esports market by creating appropriate structures.

Since our founding five years ago, MYI Entertainment has grown its footprint in Esports & Gaming. We work with major companies in Switzerland and abroad to connect them with the growing gaming community. With Esports, and its viewership, predicted to grow in Switzerland, this will continue to be an important sector for companies to engage with Generations Y and Z.

Manuel Oberholzer COO of MYI Entertainment - MYI Entertainment is one of the leading 360° agencies for Esports and Gaming in the German-speaking region with a focus on consulting, event organisation and communication.

Consumers are young and well-educated with high disposable income

Switzerland’s esports consumer base has ample scope to be monetised. Seventy-six percent of regular esports customers are younger than 40 years old. Most of the 16 to 65 year-old esports audience is employed (85%) and enjoys a high monthly income (4,742 CHF on average, compared to an average of 4,384 CHF for the Swiss population overall). The typical consumer is digitally native and becoming less active on traditional entertainment channels. Most consumers are exposed to esports through video platforms such as ‘Youtube’, ‘Twitch’ and ‘Facebook’, which play a big role in making the content accessible and drawing the community together.

But the current conversion rate of media content into cash is relatively low. A large amount of free content is available, directly reducing B2C revenues. Revenue potential therefore remains limited, with only 10% of the Swiss population spending money on esports-related products or services to date.

The pandemic accelerates esports growth and awareness

COVID-19 accelerated growth in the Swiss esports market. New digital event concepts implemented during the pandemic reduced entry barriers: 44% of the esports audience watched content for the first time. Meanwhile 29% of consumers who had already watched esports before the pandemic increased their consumption. The penetration rate among the female audience almost doubled (1.96x) and multiplied by a factor of 1.7x among the male audience.

The pandemic has increased the popularity, acceptance, and viewership of esports in Switzerland. But it has not necessarily resulted in overall revenue growth. Events and related ticketing and merchandising revenues almost disappeared. For non-endemic sponsors and brands the return to offline events will be crucial to realising the objectives of their esports engagement.

In future the industry needs to retain the fans and users attracted during the pandemic so that esports can continue their path towards becoming a mainstream product in Switzerland in terms of reach and economic impact.

Deloitte Switzerland Sports Business Group

The Sports Business Group at Deloitte is the go-to-partner for esports and traditional sports industry stakeholders and organisations seeking to join the ecosystem at every stage of their esports ventures – from building market knowledge to advising on complex matters with a particular focus on commercial and financial topics.

With over 20 years of experience advising clients in the national and international sports, fitness and esports industry, our work draws on Deloitte’s global network. It combines expertise in auditing, tax and legal, financial and risk advisory, and consulting with the industry expertise of the Sports Business Group. This multidisciplinary approach combined with digital competence in all areas enables us to tailor our work specifically to the needs of our clients.

The European esports market

The 6th edition of the Deloitte study 'Let's Play! - The European esports market' focuses on the economically sustainable development of the European esports sector. The study was based on extensive consumer research and numerous expert opinions. In addition, there are 13 country profiles that outline the current state of the esports sector in different European markets

For the individual country profiles, navigate via the map of Europe.

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