The E3 press conferences usually have buzzwords that are marketable and present images of a bigger, brighter future with their product. This year’s term is “esports” and developers are using it at length to try and attract this new burgeoning industry.
In the first three days of E3, EA, Microsoft, and even Bethesda have used the term. Esports is no longer the misfit child that didn’t have a place at the grownups table. Esports is now slowly moving up publisher’s radar and will now be used as a marketing tool to sell and sustain their games. It’s creating a scenario where players almost have too many options when it comes to competitive gaming.
Let’s start with EA, who’s making a clear push to make their EA Sports titles relevant in the esports landscape. The popularity of FIFA with a more attention focused on the competitive side could be the next big thing in esports. Games like Madden and FIFA, that already have a dedicated player base, will now give players even more reasons to play.
On top of the preexisting Madden Bowl, EA Sports has green lit the FIFA world championships with a rather large prize pool. With the commercial success of the EA Sports franchises, it’s the obvious next step in the evolution of their brand and games. It’s okay to be skeptical about sports games becoming major players in esports, but it’s nearly impossible to deny the potential.
Microsoft didn’t make the competitive side of their games the main selling point at their E3 press conference. It was more centered around the announcement of their next generation console, Xbox One X. This didn’t stop individual developers from pushing the esports side of their product.
Forza Motorsports lead developer spoke about the company’s desire to jump into the esports marketplace. The driving game genre has barely dipped into the esports pool. The Forza team is realizing that jumping into the game now could be extremely beneficial and profitable venture. They repeated the phrase “esports” on IGN’s Live post-show at least over 10 times. Based off those interviews alone, it’s safe to say Forza, and Microsoft, have an eye on esports.
On top of Forza diving head first into esports, the introduction of the new Dragon Ball Z fighting game will undoubtedly bring a new wave of competitors to their console. Read more about the Dragon Ball Z game here.
Microsoft knows esports is a viable money maker and has dabbled in the space before. It’s a matter of time before Microsoft makes it a priority. Expect more emphasis on esports from them in the future as the marketplace develops and solidifies itself.
Strangely enough, Bethesda made the largest waves regarding esports this weekend with the introduction of the Quake World Championships at Quakecon 2017. The annual convention centered around the Quake series will have more excitement and anticipation as players will compete to win a part of the $1,000,000 prize pool.
Quake, as Bethesda pointed out, was one of the forefathers of the esports scene. Alongside Counter-Strike, Quake pioneered the first-person shooter as a competitive game. The high skill ceiling in Quake allowed for players to separate themselves from the pack. It also made the barrier of entry higher for Quake than other competitors, but that allowed for players at the highest level to fully explore the possibilities of the game’s engine.
Finally, we’ve returned to the beginning and Bethesda is going to make Quake their marquee esports title again. Longtime fans of esports and Quake will be happy to see the fast paced one vs. one shooter back at tournaments, but it will be competing with the likes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. It will be hard to make a new impression on young gamers while catering to their old audience who have been calling for a new Quake game.
Regardless of the competition, Quake being back is good for esports. A developer willing to put another million dollars is even better. Developers are clearly not afraid of investing into competitive gaming any longer. It’s only Wednesday and esports have been mentioned in every press conference, check back to see what other games will be looking to break into esports throughout the week of E3.