Is the eSports Industry a Threat to Traditional Sports Like Gaelic Football?

Galway's Cillian McDaid kicks a first half point in a man of the match display against Armagh. Photo credit: Shane Tighe

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The eSports industry has boomed over the last decade, and it’s now impossible to ignore. It earns more than $1 billion in revenue every year and many of the world’s top betting sites even offer odds markets on the competitions now.

This incredible rise suggests that competitive gaming could one day be more popular than traditional sports. People behind offerings like Gaelic football need to be cautious and should do more to stay relevant, as interest could wane in the future in favour of digital competitions.


Competitive Gaming Industry is Growing

According to Businesswire, the global eSports market will reach $12.4 billion by 2030. This means that it will see a compound annual growth rate of 21.9 per cent, highlighting how the industry is set to balloon in many ways. It will include an increase in players, spectators, and businesses that are involved with the competitions.

The popularity of sites like Twitch underlines how there is a huge market out there for people who want to spectate games. The eSports sector capitalised on that and gave people a way to watch other players pit their skills against one another in highly competitive situations. Players are now referred to as eSports athletes and can train like sports stars to reach the top of their field.

Gaelic Sports Need to Stay Relevant in the Modern Age

With eSports enjoying such amazing success in a short space of time, it is worrying for sports that aren’t quite as well-known globally. Gaelic football is loved in Ireland, but it doesn’t have the same notoriety in other countries.

It’s clear that the GAA needs to ensure that it stays relevant in the modern age and taps into the sprawling online world to attract and keep fans. One way to do this is through gaming, and related titles can serve to get people interested. For instance, in the list of slots at NetBet, there are loads of sport-themed titles like Football: Champions Cup and Football Studio. If there were offerings based on Gaelic football, they would surely raise awareness of the sport.

It would also make sense to commission the development of mobile games related to Gaelic sports that can help people get an introduction to their rules and concepts. There are already a few titles like Flick Gaelic Football, but there is always room for more in this bustling sector.

Esports Scene is Always Changing

One area in which traditional sports hold an advantage over eSports is that they are much better established, and their rules are set in stone. Gaelic football fans know what they are getting when they go to see a match, and the sport has barely changed in decades. However, eSports games need to be constantly updated to align with advancing graphics and mechanics, meaning it may be harder for spectators to grow a real passion for a particular eSport.

The fact that there are so many eSports to choose from also means that viewers are going to be divided in what they want to watch. Some titles have been in use for years like CS:GO, but there are always new ones emerging to try to topple the conventional hierarchy. Pecasu also notes how the industry faces many issues and obstacles, such as ensuring the authenticity of tournaments.


With the eSports industry expanding at a lightning pace, it does represent a threat to traditional sports. Organisations like the GAA need to modernise to keep alluring Gaelic football to the masses in Ireland, and also attract more viewers from overseas.  

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