Competitive gaming isn’t anything new, with arcade halls even hosting battles of Space Invaders and then Street Fighter II back in the 80s and 90s. As Nintendo and Sony built better gaming hardware for homes, tracking the rise of internet-connected PCs granting access to multiplayer games, competitive gaming became more convenient and of better quality.
Now, there’s a new dimension to competitive gaming, with millions of people tuning in to make it a form of sports. While games distinctly designed to be competitive and fair laid the groundwork, the advent of streaming made eSports possible, with the decade of professional tournaments proving the new sport to be very popular.
Video gaming has, arguably, become even more accessible than some sports, with anyone being able to practice and join teams from home, only being limited by an internet connection as opposed to geographic location. Furthermore, there’s a whole host of games that feature as a part of the eSports scene, including the genre-defining StarCraft, as we hail here www.geekgirlauthority.com/the-genre-defining-classic, Dota 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
With eSports set to be presented as a virtual and connected event at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, it seems as though there’s enough behind it to make the push as a modern mainstream sport. That said, there’re already signs that eSports can be deemed mainstream.
Sports channels prepared to compete for eSports rights
Major sports broadcasters are snapping at the opportunity to integrate major eSports events into their schedules. In the UK, both the BBC and BT Sport have aired eSports and competitive gaming, respectively (FIFA and Rocket League), while in the US, ESPN, Fox Sports, and CBS have presented competitions. Perhaps the best aspect for the sport to come from this would be its increased reach to encourage more people to get involved – particularly when it comes to female gamers.
It’s been available online primarily, but now that it’s reached more mainstream sports viewing platforms, eSports will grow further. Much like in sports, eSports is still very male-centric on the big stage, but unlike in traditional sports, there isn’t a separate female competition, with tournaments and games generally being open to both. Still a young scene, the likes of Scarlett, Lioon, Mystik, and Sarah Lou have won tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars from the profession, but mainstream viewing options should enhance the number of women looking to reach the top of the sport.
For the most part, eSports revenue has been driven by advertising through its online streams. All of a sudden, while Twitch and YouTube were bidding for key tournament rights, the mainstream TV channels muscled in to claim some of the action. Now, the media rights for eSports are worth around £100 million, per newzoo.com/insights/trend-reports/, to account for a good 18 percent of revenue for the industry.
Evolving the eSports ecosystem as sports did
Sports is an entertainment medium, but one that commands are more devout following than other, more traditionally labelled forms of entertainment. Savvy teams and leagues have cashed in on this, with waves of merchandise ranging from replica kits to marked-up pencils with club logos on them. Many eSports teams are following suit, offering replica jerseys and similar attire, but where they’re especially reaching the mainstream sports audience is through popular betting platforms.
Sports betting has long been seen as an entertainment-enhancing companion to the most popular sports in the world. The online sports betting scene, in particular, has become so popular that even the highest-rated platforms willingly give players lucrative bonuses. As shown by www.sbo.net/best-betting-sites/, free bets and no-deposit bonuses are commonplace on these platforms, with most of them also integrating eSports betting odds. When ranking operators, sites like this consider details such as payment methods, consistency of service and welcome bonuses.
Now, at the same top betting sites, savvy followers of sports, as well as existing eSports fans, can put money on their predictions, using their knowledge to make the most of outright, match day, and in-play odds. Not only does this show the enticing appeal of eSports, but it further integrates eSports with traditional sports. Most importantly, the fact that these platforms can calculate odds for the eSports matches gives them an additional credit of validity to the masses.
Further interactions to experience eSports further
It’s almost ironic, but one of the main ways that millions of people interact with their favourite sports by sinking hours into annual video games. The likes of FIFA, NHL, NBA 2K, and Madden sell millions of copies each year, offering little more than squad updates. Still, they give easy access to the sport, its athletes, and puts the player as the star of the show.
Even though eSports is essentially fans watching gamers play games to a high level, this form of interaction with eSports is emerging across all platforms. While you can engage in competitive action through major eSports titles like Dota 2, CS:GO, and StarCraft II, new titles like eSport Manager, eSports Life Tycoon, and eSports Legend give you the means to take on an eSports job, like by being a coach, personality, or player.
Not only is eSports becoming more popular among gamers, but it’s also breaking into the mainstream circles of traditional sports. It seems inevitable that eventually, eSports will be considered alongside the likes of physically athletic sports, perhaps even featuring as an Olympics event.