E-sports have grown massively in only the past few years and accumulated a global fan base. In 2014, over 200 million people around the world had either taken part in or watched gaming tournaments. In the same year 27million people watched the League of Legends’ World Championship and the DOTA 2 tournament awarded the winning team over $18m. We’re seeing changes all over the gaming industry – both good and bad – and the future of e-sports is continuing to be a buzzing topic. E-sports, in some cases, have completely changed the way game developers design their games.
Valve and Riot Games are only a couple of examples of game developers that have made it big in the e-sport industry and when you look at their games you can recognise recurring features that explain why their games were chosen. The games have a pace that’s fast enough to be challenging and interesting for the players but also isn’t too fast for spectators to follow. The layouts of the arenas are complex and vast enough for players to utilise them tactically while also being open enough for spectators to see the action.
It’s hard to say whether or not it’s a coincidence that these games are designed so similarly. There is a big possibility that developers are reusing these formats because they are perfect for e-sports and the reason why they might be doing this is because these competitions give the games a bigger profile. However, it is noticeable in the industry that less established developers have tried to break into e-sports with very familiar game styles and failed to impress. More often than not, these are the sorts of games that fail pretty early into their release or beta stages – games like Infinite Crisis and Dawngate – because they are designed with competitions in mind rather than gamers. Regrettably, the gaming industry is seeing these disappointing games quite regularly and the damaging trend hasn’t quite died down, especially while the e-sports industry continues to grow.
The e-sport industry is also gaining a lot of notoriety for its gambling opportunities. Fans can bet on different teams to win or lose and the gambling industry has even been trying to snag a cut of e-sports. Poker tournaments have started to gain more popularity on twitch and casino games are starting to reflect some of the trends of the gaming industry. Gambling isn’t just about cards and chips anymore. Online casinos have been working to merge gambling and gaming together. Old expectations of gambling used to involve adult men and women in smoky corners of casinos, nursing martinis and glasses of neat whisky. Nowadays, the focus is on fun and getting everyone included.
The games have more of interactive elements, like Ladbrokes’s Speed Poker, and everyone is urged to get involved. It brings into question whether or not the gambling and gaming industries will merge or if e-sports will play as integral part in the gambling industry as other types of sports.
Some people predict that the e-sports industry will be worth hundreds of millions in only a few years’ time. Other people think that over commercialising the events will alienate the fans and eventually turn them away. Already Coca-Cola and Redbull have invested in the growing industry. In a couple of years will our online games be overrun with sponsors’ adverts? Who can say? Maybe e-sport is a fleeting industry that can only survive as long as our current gaming trends.