Some of the biggest games in the world have become household names with the likes of Counter-Strike and League of Legends for example, but it’s easy to forget that as a whole esports is still relatively young only emerging in it’s current form around a decade ago, and only being as popular as has been seen recently for around half of that time. But as newer options continue to expand the opportunities for esports and it becomes a more mainstream option as a growing audience makes the jump across, what is it that has made esports so successful, and how could it change online entertainment?
A better approach for broadcasting – One of the biggest factors that have influenced the success of esports has been the way the games can be broadcast, with all of the biggest events and games being broadcast for free across platforms like Twitch and YouTube and has brought the games to a much wider audience. It has helped other markets like betting sites not on gamstop for example as betting on esports has become a huge market in itself, and broadcasting has largely been a huge part of this change. It has been suggested that it could encourage other big sports to follow the same path, esports numbers are hard to deny as they compete and even surpass the biggest esports events, with hundreds of thousands to millions of viewers for the biggest.
Accessibility has helped too – Many of the biggest games in the esports space have quickly made the shift to become free-to-play too, it allows this wider audience the opportunity to download and try the games to not only gain a better understanding but to also gain a passion and appreciation – many of the viewers for esports early on were players themselves, and whilst that balance still remains true there may be a shift one day, but the opportunity for new viewers to play not only expands esports, but also expands the gaming market as a whole too.
Emerging titles to bridge the gap – Whilst the biggest titles capture the majority of the audience, there has been a shift seen as releases that bridge the gap have introduced those mostly interested in traditional sporting events now have some representation too, games like FIFA and NBA2K have introduced these fans to esports in a way that’s more familiar and have been growing over the past few years too. It’s unlikely these games will ever be the biggest in terms of viewership, but they may certainly be amongst the more impactful for attracting an audience that may not have otherwise been interested in making the change and has certainly be the case over this past year to influence the change.