In the year 2023, women’s eSports experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity, setting new records in online viewership and witnessing substantial increases in prize pools. Dominated by titles such as Valorant and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, these tournaments have redefined competitive gaming for women.
Unprecedented viewership records
Women’s eSports tournaments in 2023 achieved a remarkable milestone by generating an astounding 28 million hours of viewing time. This represents a substantial 15% increase compared to the previous year, highlighting the growing interest in female competitive gaming. The pinnacle of this success was the grand finals of the 32nd SEA Games Women’s Tournament for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, which reached an all-time high of 1.37 million peak online viewers. This historic moment not only signifies the growth of women’s eSports but also reflects its increasing global appeal.
Valorant and mobile legends: Bang Bang domination
The dominance of Valorant and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang was a defining feature of women’s eSports in 2023. Valorant emerged as the most-watched discipline, accumulating an impressive 16.3 million hours of viewership, marking a substantial 48% increase compared to 2022. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang closely followed, amassing 9 million hours watched, representing a significant 22% increase from the previous year. Together, these two games accounted for over 90% of the total viewing hours in women’s eSports, underlining their pivotal role in driving the industry’s growth.
Notable surge in prize pools
The growth in women’s eSports was not limited to viewership alone; it also extended to the prize pools. In 2023, over $2.2 million was distributed across various tournaments, with Valorant tournaments leading the way by contributing more than half of this amount. However, there was a noticeable disparity in prize distribution, particularly in regions like Southeast Asia, despite having a substantial fan base, where major prize pools remained scarce in women’s tournaments.
Geographic and platform diversity
Regional variations were evident in prize money distribution. South America, led by Brazil, stood out as the region awarding the most prize money in women’s eSports. The VCT 2023: Game Changers Championship held in Brazil with a $500,000 prize pool played a significant role in this achievement. North America and Europe also made substantial contributions to the overall prize pool, reflecting the global nature of competitive gaming. In contrast, Asia lagged behind, hosting only 9% of the total prize money for 2023, indicating room for growth in this region.
The landscape of streaming platforms also underwent significant changes in 2023. Twitch emerged as the primary platform for streaming women’s eSports, commanding a substantial 56% share of the total viewing hours. YouTube followed with a 34.1% share. Interestingly, the language preferences of viewers shifted, with English broadcasts witnessing a significant increase in watch time, while Indonesian streams, despite a decline, remained popular among viewers.
The future of female eSports
As women’s eSports continues to experience remarkable growth, a critical question emerges: how will other popular eSports disciplines adapt to support and elevate women’s participation to the level of Valorant and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang? The expansion of the audience in 2023 provides optimism that additional games will follow this trend, breaking through existing limits and setting new records in the eSports domain.
Moreover, the growth of women’s eSports is likely to influence broader societal attitudes towards women in competitive gaming and beyond. It has the potential to shape the future of the eSports industry in exciting and unpredictable ways, fostering inclusivity and diversity within the competitive gaming community. This upward trajectory is a testament to the talent and dedication of female eSports players and signifies a promising future for women in eSports.