March 29, 2018 Original Article Dexerto
Esports has proven not only to offer an incredible spectacle to viewers when done correctly,but also to be a valuable marketing tool for game publishers.
Not all games are created equal when it comes to esports, however, and no matter how much a developer would like to cash in on the rise of esports, some genres seem simply better-suited than others.
A classic titan of competitive gaming, the FPS has always had a place right at the very heart of the esports industry. From legendary titles like Quake and Counter-Strike on PC to dominant console titles like Halo and Call of Duty, the history of esports is intrinsically linked with the history of FPS games.
It’s not hard to understand the esports appeal of the genre. A great FPS like Counter-Strike blends massive scope for mechanical excellence with a more subtle but deep range of strategy and tactics.
Typically, FPS games are also easy to understand on first glance – the objectives typically aren’t too complex, and it’s easy to appreciate the skill required to land amazingly fast or precise (or both) shots. On the flipside, veteran viewers are rewarded for their experience as they come to appreciate the nuances of decision-making that can turn a game on its head.
In recent esports history, it has been MOBAs that have pushed the frontiers of scale when it comes to viewership, engagement, and prize money.
MOBAs have occasionally come under fire for what can be an opaque viewer experience, with the nature of such games making it difficult at times for viewers, particularly the less experienced among them, to understand exactly what is happening at certain times.
It’s hard to argue with the results, though. For several years, League of Legends has been considered the biggest esport in the world, boasting massive viewership both in the west and Asian regions.
Meanwhile, DotA 2’s The International continues to break esports records for the most prize money offered at a single event. Crowd-funded through the sale of Compendiums, it’s something of a point of pride for the DotA community that they beat their own record each year, with 2017’s International offering over $24 million.
If somebody totally new to “esports” was asked to describe what they thought the word meant, these might well be the games they’d first think of, the likes of FIFA, Madden, or NBA 2K.
At first glance for the uninformed, competition in these games might appear the most redundant – they’re just digital versions of real-life sports, after all, so why play or watch the video game version when the real thing exists?
The reality, however, is that sports sims are a significantly growing sector of the esports industry. Premier League football clubs are signing FIFA players. The NBA is setting up an official NBA 2K league with NBA franchises fielding teams. Meanwhile, even Formula 1 is hosting tournaments for virtual drivers, with the some of the most successful moving on to drive sims in the real world of motorsport.
What makes an esport?
These genres offer obvious arenas for competition, but they don’t have a monopoly on the concept of an esport.
Historically, of course, legendary RTS game StarCraft played a formative role in the development of esports, while even MMOs like World of Warcraft offered tournaments for the elite of the arena. As the esports industry continues to expand, MMOs might yet offer a unique take on inter-player competition.
Right now, of course, the explosive rise of the “battlegrounds” genre has resulted in developers and tournament operators trying to figure out how these types of games might operate as esports.
Exactly what makes a game a successful esport will be a crucial question over the coming years as the industry continues to grow.