Hey, I have a question. Would it surprise you to learn that team video game play (aka “eSports) are among the great global boom industries?
That’s pretty much what we thought you would say, but the numbers tell the tale. We will get to them in just a minute. Just know that while you were deciding on a kicker for your fantasy football team, eSport competitions were taking place from Houston to Hong Kong.
“Okay, I’ll bite. What’s an eSport?”
They are meticulously organized video game events. Similar to the sports with which you are familiar, eSports are team-based. The competitions themselves are short tournaments and longer-duration league play.
“Video games, gotcha’. What sort of video games?”
The vast majority fall into one of three categories. First-person shooters (aka FPS, an example pictured left), real-time strategy (RTS), and multiplayer battle arena games. They call these “MOBA.” The “O” stands for “online,” but we thought that was self-explanatory.
“Can I watch one on TV or do I need to go in person?”
They are pretty spectacular in person, but you can certainly watch on TV. In fact, there are streaming services dedicated solely to eSports. The competitions were called “the biggest thing to hit the tech industry since the launch of the iPhone,” by Newzoo.com.
This whole thing may be brand new to you, but it became a deal 16 years ago. That’s when Xbox Live brought online gameplay to home consoles. Remember Halo? It was first. It was inevitable that corporate sponsors would see that there was money to be made in people competing with each other without even being in the same place.
“And without even getting dressed.”
Yes, there is that, as well.
“Tell me some of the games they are playing against each other.”
League of Legends (pictured right) is very popular. At the 2017 League of Legends world championships, 24 teams battled it out for $4,596,591.
“You have got to be…”
Be careful, Gildshire’s a family site. You may have heard of Call of Duty. It’s another big one. At the latest Call of Duty championship tournament, 32 teams played for a $1.5 million prize pool.
“I am speechless.”
Gildshire was, as well, at least until we first researched some more. We found out there is still more. Defense of the Ancients (DOTA, both1 and 2) is another popular eSport. That’s MOBA where two squads of heroic characters fight to destroy the enemy’s ancient buildings and other structures inside his base.
“Are those all of the big ones?”
They are probably the biggest, but other eSport competitions include gameplay on Starcraft, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch.
“You mentioned prize money and purses, but how much could an eSport pro make?”
Esports can be very lucrative if you are one of the best players in the world. The top players receive a monthly wage. Their salaries are then supplemented by the millions in the prize pools. Some players earn $350,000-500,000 annually. Uniform sponsorships add revenue. Think of it as NASCAR in that way.
“There is a lot more money in eSports than I would have ever imagined, and what you have told me has given me added respect for it. But let’s be honest. Are these…video games…really sport?”
That is the big question, at least among self-described sports fans. The mainstream sports media has argued they are something, but not sports. ESports have been unable to crack sports journalism, because of that perception. However, the “eSports are sports” crowd scored a big coup recently. ESports appeared in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics at the invitation of the International Olympic Committee. ESports was only there as an exhibition sport. Even so, that’s a step in the right direction toward recognition by sports fans as one of their own.
Whether Joe Baseball Fan ever accepts eSports as “a sport” is, in part, besides the point. The global eSports yearly economy will hit $2.3 billion between now and the end of 2022.
“Okay, what’s your best prediction? Are eSports around for good, or will they shine brightly for a bit, only to fade just as quickly?
We believe they can last. Did you know that you can place a bet on eSports competitions?
“You can WHAT?”
That’s right. As we speak, you can wager on eSports at offshore sportsbooks, and domestic sports books are expected to follow suit as they get up and running in this country.
“Well, that settles it, doesn’t it?”
We’ll keep you up to date. But we agree that the gambling piece pretty much settles the eSports longevity question.