The Nordics esports market: Let’s Play! 2021
Mature esports landscape finding new ways of growth
The esports and gaming landscape in the Nordics (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway) is well-established and part of the region’s cultural DNA. It has developed into one of the world’s foremost game developing regions, consequently raising the interest for esports. This can also be seen in the Deloitte report ‘Let’s Play! 2021 – The European esports market’, for which a consumer survey among some 20,000 consumers in 12 European countries and regions was conducted. Across the surveyed countries and regions, the Nordics have the highest share of consumers who are able to define the term ’esports’ correctly (43%). After experiencing strong growth for years, many Nordic esports powerhouses are now matured enough to look at stock listings and international expansion to further strengthen their brands.
Pioneers of esports and home to gaming
Due to the high consumer interest and the inherited cultural DNA for gaming, the esports ecosystem was pioneered and pivoted from the Nordic region to other markets. Computer game festivals Dreamhack and The Gathering are home to many gamers: Both acted as culture bearers in the early 2000’s and paved the way for top-tier international competitions like “PGL” and “The International”. Traditional media companies have now started incorporating esports into their strategy, with Swedish digital media company MTG acquiring ESL and Dreamhack in 2015, spanning a total deal-size of approx. €100M. Sweden also hosts several key game developers and tech unicorns, like Embracer, King, Mojang, Stillfront, EA, Paradox and Ubisoft. Also crucial to the game development scene is Danish game development engine Unity, that enables real-time game development adopting 3D, VR and AR techniques.
The presence of Nordic teams at top-tier competitions have always been strong, with some of the most successful teams being Ninjas in Pyjamas, Fnatic and stock-listed Astralis. Most recently, a player transfer between NIP and Astralis was made including a buyout-fee, as known from professional football. To date, the Nordics have a combined 7,100 professional esports players that have won over €100M earnings from various titles, pre-dominantly Counter Strike, Dota 2, League of Legends, Fortnite and Rainbow Six Siege.
Meanwhile, Finland has been at the forefront of an often-overlooked part of the esports scene - mobile games. Finnish game developer Supercell is behind the smash hits Clash of Clans, Clash Royale and Brawl Stars, while neighbour Rovio revolutionized the mobile game industry in 2009 with Angry Birds. Clash Royale has emerged as one of the mobile-only games with the largest competitive esports scenes, boasting a prize pool of $1,6M for 2021. This movement is supported by Nordic telecom giants like Ericsson, Telenor and Telia, who are both major sponsors and key suppliers of infrastructure like the 5G network.
In Norway, prominent politicians are advocating for esports and gaming as excellent tools for fighting social injustice. The attention has led to several concrete esports and gaming initiatives being funded through the national budget, in areas like education, health, and technology. This pattern can be seen across the Nordics, as several universities and high schools have branched tailored education programs for esports athletes.
A young and highly interesting audience
The ‘Let’s Play! 2021 – The European esports market’ study finds that the Nordic countries have the highest esports awareness in Europe, and four out of five esports consumers in the Nordics are below 40 years of age. Nordic esports consumers on average have a higher monthly income than non-consumers, which may perhaps come to the surprise of some, especially as it typically attracts a younger audience. Only two out of three esports consumers define themselves as „frequent gamers“, indicating that esports as a product has an appeal outside of professional gaming communities.
The Nordic region is dominated by shooter games, with as many as 60% of the esports audience stating that they have watched shooters before and, on average, devote more than half their esports consumption time to them. This can be seen as a reflection of top Nordic esports teams‘ performances, where teams like Ninjas in Pyjamas, Fnatic and Astralis have been prominent on the CS:GO scene.
Female viewership rockets during pandemic
Covid-19 triggered a strong growth in esports awareness and viewership in the Nordic countries, as more than one third of all Nordic consumers were first exposed to esports during the pandemic. The increase was particularly prominent with female audiences: While women still only account for 34% of the total number of Nordic esports consumers, the female viewership penetration rate has grown by a rate of 1.98 during the pandemic. This bodes well for esports‘ future as a true sport for the masses.
At the same time, the professional esports scene took a dive as far as actual revenue goes, where key events like Dreamhack Summer (Sweden) and The Gathering (Norway) were cancelled. The esports scene now finds itself in a situation where the fanbase is both greater in numbers and hungrier than ever for live events, and the next year will be crucial in in terms of capitalizing on that growth.
Let’s Play! - The European esports Report
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
To download the full report, click here. For the individual country profiles, navigate via the map of Europe.
Deloitte offering and country contacts
The Nordic Technology, Media and Telecommunications industry experts at Deloitte are the Go-to-partner for stakeholders of the esports industry 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 20 years of experience in the industry, our work draws on Deloitte’s global network. It combines technical expertise in auditing, tax and legal, risk advisory, M&A-services and consulting with the industry experience. This multidisciplinary approach combined with digital competence in all areas enables us to tailor our work specifically to the needs of our clients.
The global offering for esports consists of more than 330 practitioners across the globe with vast experience working with the whole ecosystem of esports – from game producers, publishers to clients within the event and competition space.
Esport and gaming contributes to exciting growth opportunities in the market (Nordics), yet the potential is not reached. – Jonas Malmlund, Nordic TMT lead