The esports industry has experienced explosive growth over the last few years, with titles like DOTA 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and, more recently, Fortnite leading the charge.
However, even with its tremendous rise, esports as a whole is still a generally niche pastime around the world. Either: people aren’t familiar with how the scene works; they don’t understand the concept of playing video games being a sport; or they don’t find the competitive gaming scene to be very accessible.
The industry needs to continue to grow and evolve to reach its potential. The potential space is gigantic, especially as the medium of gaming continues to grow in popularity, and we can already see moves being made to capitalize on the momentum of the esports industry.
Moving forward with new games
Regardless of the money on the line and stadiums that host tournaments, the fundamental aspect of esports’ continued success is a steady expansion of more varied and exciting games. As the industry has taken off in a huge way, may more developers have been tailor-making games that can integrate themselves into the scene.
Perhaps the most exciting of all upcoming titles that intend on breaking into esports is that of Valorant. Created by Riot Games, their senior director of global esports Whale Rozelle says that they have massive dreams of what the game can become in esports. The developers intend to be in esports for a long time, launching the game with a roster of eight playable characters.
Many other games will also be looking to burst onto the scene, with Riot Games also looking to bring its League of Legends IP to the world of mobile gaming. League of Legends: Wild Rift is set to be released this year as a competitive title. The latest big-name battle royale game, Call of Duty: Warzone, may also be given a nudge into esports.
Embracing third-parties for engagement and sponsorship
As it stands, esports is still a relatively young industry but is drawing a lot from traditional sports. The new kid on the block is, however, much more forward-thinking in its role as a provider of entertainment to fans, such as through its accessibility online and, of course, the games being available to anyone with the hardware.
The industry is already opening up to a major avenue of interaction from fans, albeit being more dependent on changes in the United States than the direct input from esports teams and organizers. Esports betting sites are already available with markets similar to traditional sports markets, meaning that fans can back their hunches and knowledge of matches around the world. However, it is noted that many esports fans don’t yet appreciate the betting scene in the same way that traditional sports fans utilize the markets and odds.
As esports runs on advertising revenue and sponsorship, the industry could capitalize on more fans starting to interact through betting by appealing to more iGaming brands. As shown in traditional sports, these brands are willing to pay a lot of money for sponsorship, particularly on advertising boards and on sports jerseys.
A true global expansion
One of the fundamental reasons why soccer is the most popular sport in the world is because it’s incredibly accessible. All people need to play is a ball and just a couple of jumpers or shoes as goalposts. Some other traditional sports are very geographically tied, such as hockey, and especially football – which can only be played properly with organizations in place and money coming in.
The esports industry is making itself as accessible as it possibly can to fans by streaming its matches and tournaments through popular online platforms. Viewable for free or at a low cost, esports has been able to reach almost anyone who would want to watch within the existing major markets. However, getting into the games first-hand, which develops knowledge and an ability to interact, is far less accessible.
Globally speaking, the focus of esports on PC titles has hindered its growth. Many nations in the southern hemisphere don’t have easy access to PCs to be able to engage with esports’ leading titles. Thus, they don’t have an access point to interact with or enjoy the games. This is why the esports industry and its fans need to make a concerted effort to embrace mobile gaming and promote competitive mobile play to a high standing.
Markets like India are potentially gigantic for esports, and now that smartphones are taking hold, an ever-growing base of mobile gamers is being forged. Titles like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile and Free Fire are already massive across nations where video game consoles or gaming PCs are difficult to access. India has hosted a few big esports tournaments already, but to propel the industry into these regions, mobile esports needs further integration and promotion across the scene.
The esports industry continues to grow and expand into new areas, proving to be much more than a flash in the pan. If the industry can incorporate mobile gaming, capitalize on third-party fan interaction avenues, and incorporate new and varied games, its momentum won’t slow anytime soon.