Female Esports Attracts Growing Online Audiences and Larger Prize Pools

Female Esports Attracts Growing Online Audiences and Larger Prize Pools

In 2023, women’s eSports witnessed a remarkable surge in popularity, achieving a historic peak in online viewership and a substantial increase in total prize pools.

“In 2023, female eSports broke records in peak viewership, dominated by Valorant and MLBB.”

Dominated by titles like Valorant and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, these tournaments have reshaped the landscape of competitive gaming for women. This year’s achievements mark a key moment in the advancement of female eSports, posing a crucial question: How will these developments influence the future of the broader eSports industry?

Also read: A Year of Adaptation, Growth, and New Challenges in eSports

The rise to new heights

Women’s eSports tournaments in 2023 generated an impressive 28 million hours of viewing time, a nearly 15% increase from the previous year. The peak online viewership skyrocketed to 1.37 million, setting a new record during the grand finals of the 32nd SEA Games Women’s Tournament for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

“Reaching 1.37 million during the 32nd SEA Games Women’s Tournament, setting a historic moment for Indonesia and the Philippines.”

As reported by Esports Charts, Valorant emerged as the most-watched discipline, with its tournaments accumulating 16.3 million hours watched, a 48% increase from 2022. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang followed closely, amassing 9 million hours watched, representing a 22% increase compared to the previous year. These two games alone accounted for over 90% of the total viewing hours in women’s eSports.

However, the growth wasn’t just in viewership. Prize pools also saw a notable increase, with over $2.2 million distributed across various tournaments. Valorant tournaments alone dispensed more than half of this amount. Nonetheless, there was an evident disparity in prize distribution, particularly in regions like Southeast Asia, which, despite having a significant fan base, saw major prize pools scarce in women’s tournaments.

Geographic and platform diversity

South America, led by Brazil, emerged as the region awarding the most prize money in women’s eSports. This was mainly due to the VCT 2023: Game Changers Championship held in Brazil with a $500,000 prize pool. North America and Europe also made significant contributions to the prize pool. Nevertheless, Asia lagged, hosting only 9% of the total prize money for 2023.

The popularity of streaming platforms also shifted in 2023. Twitch took the lead as the primary platform for streaming women’s eSports, accounting for 56% of the total viewing hours. YouTube followed with a 34.1% share. The language preferences of viewers also changed, with English broadcasts witnessing a significant increase in watch time, while Indonesian streams, despite a decline, remained popular.

The future of female eSports

With such remarkable growth, one critical question arises: How will other popular eSports disciplines adapt to support and elevate women’s participation to the level of Valorant and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang? Given the audience’s expansion in 2023, a hopeful outlook persists that additional games will emulate this trend, persistently smashing through existing limits and establishing new records in the eSports domain.

As women’s eSports continues to grow, it will likely influence broader societal attitudes towards women in competitive gaming and beyond, shaping the future of the eSports industry in exciting and unpredictable ways.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.