The present generation has seen a huge revolution in the perception of video gaming. Who would have thought that competitive playing would become a huge sport in its own right?
This ‘electronic sports’ banner now covers a hugely exciting industry. esports have soared in popularity all over the world in the last decade.
The boom in internet access and live streaming has helped the arrival of dedicated professional players, teams, and superstars. Game developers and brands recognized the potential growth of the genre early on – and started creating titles and tournaments to grab a slice of the excitement.
Now the esports arena covers many types of gaming, ranging from simple first-person shooter battles to gigantic real-time strategy games. Franchises like League of Legends, Dota, and Counter-Strike have become powerful names in this new competitive video gaming world.
The growth of esports operations has been so fast that even major sporting organizations have noticed. Some multinational sporting tournaments in Asia have already featured esports matches – alongside traditional physical sporting competitions.
Even the ultimate arbiter of ‘what is a sport?’ has noticed the newcomer. The International Olympic Committee has already discussed including esports in future sessions of the Games.
Is There Much Money Involved?
Yes! The global esports audience is now estimated to be heading towards 454 million viewers. At the same time revenue has soared – to more than US $2 billion.
Live streaming channels have lubricated this boom in popularity. China in particular appears to have a huge appetite for all aspects of the esport genre.
South Koreans also love esports and that market has now supported professional players for almost a quarter of a century already.
Globally, the audience is currently predominantly male, between 18 and 34 but there are plenty of exceptions – including successful female professional players.
Female audiences are growing too and there are now some all-female tournaments and teams. Expect the catchment of esports to widen quickly as it becomes more mainstream.
Why Is It So Popular?
The latest internet and streaming technology means fans can watch esports from anywhere in the world at any time. This has enabled top players like Olofmeister Gustafsson and Ian Crimsix Porter to become online celebrities, each with their own huge following.
The size of the cash prizes on offer creates excitement too. Some successful teams have accumulated huge winnings.
FaZe Clan for example has won more than $10 million so far and Team Liquid has won around $38 million. Teams like these can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsement deals and promotions.
In fact, a wide empire of marketing, promotions, and punditry has grown up around actual competitive gaming. There are even university courses in esports online such as esports management now.
More and more money is being generated and that creates bigger media, online and commercial opportunities around the competitions. One of the earliest forms of eGaming would be poker which has benefited tremendously due to exposure from mainstream platforms. Alongside advancements in technological application, it has created an online medium where it has led to some trying free play poker online.
The resulting interest has led it to become of the biggest global multiplayer strategy games, it all adds to the aura of excitement that is fuelling the rise of online gaming.
The Most Popular Esports Games
Esports has already spread across different types of gaming. These are the most popular fields:
- Fighting games are the classic competitive arena. Players face each other in long-standing games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II or newer titles like Super Smash Bros online or Melee.
- Racing games feature esports stars in the driving seat of various types of vehicles. Sometimes they’re fantasy machines like in Mario Kart while at other times they are using real hypercars like in Need for Speed.
- Sports games are video versions of physical competitive sports like football, basketball and baseball. These versions of real sports are very popular – the American football esports bowl now offers prizes of around $1 million.
- Card games are a more digital type of competition – with play often involving the competitors taking turns to play a card and invoke a spell or perform an attack. Games like Hearthstone are increasingly popular.
- Real-time strategy games involve players battling simultaneously in real-time, like Age of Empires or Total War. The themes can involve buildings, technology, civilizations, and armies – or all of them at once.
- First-person shooter games feature a player’s-eye-view of a character that they control, like Halo or Call of Duty. They usually have a weapon and use it to battle against other players or against the game’s AI characters.
- Multi-player online battle arena games have two teams of players facing each other across the digital battlefield. You can find games like this in League of Legends and Dota 2.
As the battle progresses, the various different characters can become stronger and more important as they collect additional powers.
Industry experts expect the upward rise of all forms of esports to continue. The latest forecasts predict big growth in the North American and European markets.
The top performing players online are likely to become more famous, and the prize money involved will grow. And expect esport to become a more central part of popular culture as more mainstream investors, media outlets, and consumers jump on the bandwagon.
Anyone who considers esports as a remote offshoot of videogaming is certainly likely to be in for a surprise in the coming years. It’s clear esports are here to stay – and this exciting side of gaming is only going to get more and more popular across the planet.