Value of gaming industry exceeds combined revenue generated by NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball

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      In the first week after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, U.S. telecommunications giant Verizon reported a stunning 75 percent increase in video-game traffic during peak-hour usage.

      VPN (virtual private network) usage was up 34 percent, whereas web traffic rose 20 percent and video traffic increased by 12 percent. Social media usage, on the other hand, remained the same.

      Not surprisingly, this video-game craze is catching the attention of corporate America.

      In an article in AdWeek this long weekend, Havas Media's senior vice president and group director of communications strategy, Paul Traeger, suggested that "gaming has exploded like never before to become the new social currency and a cultural force".

      "To put the opportunity into perspective, consider that gaming is now a $139 billion a year (and growing) business, making it bigger than the NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL combined," Traeger wrote. "From an esports perspective, the $30 million prize pool for Dota 2: The International was almost three times larger than that of either the Super Bowl or the Masters Tournament."

      Newzoo had a higher estimate, saying the global games market would achieve revenues of $152.1 billion in 2019, with the U.S. surpassing China as the world's biggest market.

      This has spawned several eSports tournaments sponsored by some of the best-known brands in the world, including Louis Vuitton and Nike.

      If this trend continues, it's conceivable that in the next few years, the world's biggest eSports stars could become as famous as pro athletes like Serena Williams, Sidney Crosby, Steph Curry, and Tom Brady.

      In January, Dot Esports listed the largest prize money winners in eSports history.

      Topping the list was Danish Dota 2 champ Johan "N0tail" Sundstein at $6.8 million, followed by American Fortnite ace Kyla "Bugha" Giersdorf at $3 million.

      According to liquipedia, Vancouver eSports star Artour ("Arteezy") Babaev has lifetime earnings of nearly $2.25 million. He's currently with the Evil Geniuses.

      The largest video-game companies of all time are Sony Computer Entertainment, Microsoft Studios, and Nintendo.