Read any gaming website or magazine and you’ll see stories about the tremendous growth of eSports. Competitive play is nothing new to the world of video gaming but organised eSports have exploded in popularity in recent years. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest reasons why this is.
Popularity of Gaming
Perhaps the biggest reason behind the surging popularity of eSports is the growth of video gaming as a whole. Go back a few decades and gaming was still very much a niche pastime confined to arcades and bedrooms. The development of games consoles like the PlayStation and Xbox have certainly changed that with more and more people able to play in the comfort of their own homes.
If the number of gaming platforms has increased, then the number of titles on the market has exploded. There are thousands of titles released in dozens of genres each and every year meaning that there is something to suit everyone’s tastes, from classic sports and shooting games to more modern genres like the MOBA.
Fortunately, the number of eSports leagues has increased along with the number of titles on the market. Twenty years ago, the classic real-time strategy game, Starcraft became one of the first major international eSports titles but many more have followed in the years since then from classic fighting games to the current biggest names like League of Legends, Counter Strike and DOTA.
It stands to reason that the more people play video games, the more people could become fans of eSports so it’s good news for competitive gaming that there are more casual gamers than ever before. In September 2018, Variety reported that almost 70% of Americans now play video games. Statista has claimed that 380 million watched eSports in 2018 and that by 2020, that number could increase to almost 600 million.
With such a large support base, it’s clear to see why the eSports audience is an attractive one to advertisers but it wasn’t always that way. Typically, the companies which most regularly sponsored eSports events were confined to the technology industry. Organisations like Microsoft and Intel have invested in competitive gaming, as has computing giants Hewlett Packard.
However, in recent years the sponsorship deals for eSports teams and tournaments have come from a far wider variety of industries. Motoring giants Mercedes Benz has struck up a deal with ESL, the world’s largest eSports company, online casino firm Betway has sponsored the team Ninjas in Pyjamas for a number of years and even Coca-Cola has moved into competitive gaming.
The extra money has helped eSports drastically expand into different games and markets. The sponsorship also leads to extra publicity which, in turn, will attract more new players to competitive gaming and therefore improve the competition. A recent study by SuperData estimated that the global revenue for eSports will surpass $2 billion by 2021.
Perhaps something which is often forgotten in the rise of eSports is the drastic improvements in technology which have helped facilitate it. None of this would be possible without online gaming with players from all over the world able to compete against one another. Similarly, online services like Twitch have helped the growth of competitive gaming by allowing spectators to keep up with their favourite teams and players at all times.
The games have also improved on a technical level as well as physically. It will always be more enjoyable to watch something in higher definition and the improvements to computing power in the last few years have helped make that the industry standard.
And That’s All Folks
Few industries have grown as much eSports has in the last few years. The world of competitive gaming is expanding as time goes by as more and more people become fans of the industry. The improvements in technology have helped facilitate this growth and the sponsorship has made it a more attractive place for fans and players but neither is the biggest factor behind the growth of the industry.
Video gaming as a pastime has become far more popular in the last few years and that has directly contributed to the popularity of eSports. The more people play a video game, the more will likely be interested in following the competitive side of the game. That isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.