Esports has quickly become a global phenomenon, with billions of viewer hours each year, hundreds of millions of players, and hundreds of millions given out in prize money at the biggest competitions each year. Bigger sponsors are throwing their names in the hat for these big events too, global tech companies are becoming part of the esports organization, new names cropping up all the time.
It’s easy to forget just how young relatively speaking esports is, with only the past two and a half decades really being involved in the growth of games that have become household names, whilst titles like Quake and Unreal Tournament could be considered really the first entry to esports way back in the late 90s, it wasn’t until the mid-twenty-teens that things really took off in a big way with games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and DoTA2 – which are also becoming a force in the esports betting World with Dota 2 being a key example of this.
Prior to this, games like Counter-Strike 1.6 and Source, as well as Starcraft 2, both did quite well, but at this time esports was still extremely niche. Players were paid very little and tournament winnings would often only amount to a few thousand dollars, hardly the tens of millions that can be awarded today.
So, what’s led to this huge growth in such a short time? Perhaps the most impactful thing for esports has come from the broadcasting opportunities with livestreaming across platforms like YouTube and Twitch, whilst there were platforms prior to Twitch in particular, none were able to have quite the same impact, having launched in 2011 by the mid twenty teens every big esports title were streaming their big events for free on Twitch, with the big talent in these games also regularly streaming on Twitch and gaining an audience for themselves becoming celebrities in their own right for the content creation space.
Whilst it has led to some issues particularly with the lack of monetization in a traditional way for esports through pay-per-view or similar subscription-based models, it has given esports a huge audience without charge, and a platform that has become synonymous with big esports events and big esports personalities at the same time.
With different sites tracking just how many viewers tune in and billions of viewer hours being logged each year, and an interest to provide continued delivery on this same platform in the same way, it shows no signs of slowing down.
The next steps for esports certainly look to be in stepping up regulation and finding new ways to help with the uncertainty that lingers around esports as a whole, it has become something more apparent in recent years with some of the bigger organizations running into financial issues and releasing teams from different sports, as well as big pay disputes and similar issues rearing their head quite often.
As the space is still so young, there are inevitably going to be issues that traditional sports may have cleared up earlier in the lifespan, and in a much less public way, but because of social media and the content creation market, everything is out there for all fans to see when it comes to the struggles currently facing esports, but also the huge successes it has had too.
Joel is a whiz with computers. When he was just a youngster, he hacked into the school's computer system and changed all of the grades. He got away with it too - until he was caught by the vice-principal! Joel loves being involved in charities. He volunteers his time at the local soup kitchen and helps out at animal shelters whenever he can. He's a kind-hearted soul who just wants to make the world a better place.