There was a time not long ago when the term ‘eSports’ was one that even many gamers wouldn’t have heard of – being a niche part of the gaming industry rather than the global phenomenon it is today. eSports is now a major part of many types of games and genres, including shooters, MOBAs and fighting games.
Today, we’ll be looking at some of the main reasons why eSports has become as popular as it has and why it’s not just here to stay, but also likely to thrive more than ever in the future.
The popularity of game streaming
One of the major forces behind eSports becoming so big is the explosion of streaming, particularly game streaming. Huge streamers such as Ninja helped to make the concept of games streaming mainstream and today, streaming is seen as a vital component of the enjoyment people get from video games.
The popularity of streaming, which is growing all the time, is only a good thing for eSports. As established streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube continue to grow in popularity, as well as newer platforms like Kick emerge, it only increases the amount of reach that eSports has.
As well as the popularity of streaming, there’s also the fact that eSports continues to attract investment from more companies. Sponsors and organizations realize more and more just how much interest there is in eSports; not just in established markets like South Korea but also many countries in the west, including the UK, US and mainland Europe. Esport betting in Canada, for example, has massively increased in popularity, partly due to the growing legalisation in certain regions.
The more investment there is in eSports, the more likely it is to attract more players, better venues and larger audiences. This all helps to add to the prestige of eSports and allows it to be viewed as something that belongs with regular sports and not just a niche thing, which it can often be seen as by more mainstream audiences.
One aspect where eSports can sometimes draw criticism is in its infrastructure. eSports team members will often complain of a lack of investment or professional facilities, especially at the lower end of things. However, the infrastructure around eSports is improving all the time, as it attracts more global interest from fans.
A big part of better infrastructure around eSports is them being more widely available to mainstream audiences who might not otherwise seek them out. This is becoming more prevalent as major broadcasters give exposure to eSports, helping them reach a whole new demographic.
More immersive experience for viewers
One of the ways that eSports is very likely to change for the better in the coming years is by providing viewers with a much more immersive experience. Currently, most eSports viewers who watch their favorite events online will do so either via a mobile device or desktop PC. There isn’t a huge amount in the way of immersion but that will almost certainly change in the near future.
VR and AR headsets are still relatively new to the market and content providers are working to provide more immersive content in all areas of entertainment, including games, sports and streaming.
It’s not unlikely that in the next few years, you’ll be able to watch eSports via VR and AR headsets that provide you with a much more immersive experience, whether it’s choosing the angle you want to view the action from or being able to instantly access overlaid stats about your favorite game/team in real time.
Sense of community
The sense of community is a huge part of what drives eSports and that only looks to get stronger going into the future. Sports in general have very passionate fan bases that foster a deep sense of community and eSports is no exception to this. Something that makes eSports quite unique when compared to top level sports athletes though, is that they seem much more accessible to their fans.
A lot of eSports players are also streamers with their own dedicated community. This sense of community and camaraderie certainly help to give eSports a unique feel when compared to many other aspects of entertainment, including traditional sports.
The future of eSports is hard to predict but as technology like VR, AR and AI continue to impact all types of entertainment, including gaming, it’s hard to see how this won’t have a big knock-on effect on eSports. As the viewing experience becomes more immersive and game streaming in general continues to grow in popularity, it looks certain that eSports is here to stay.