Why eSports, no matter what game, will continue to rise in popularity and how our relationship to the digital age only grows deeper. We will keep experimenting until we get to Virtual Reality viewing experiences for eSports or different ways to enhance the spectator sport to make it more appealing for the viewer.
ESports: Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
From constant updates to weekly professional matches, gamers are never in a bored state of mind when they think of League of Legends. But even beyond LoL, future releases of successful multiplayer games will only continue to grow the eSports industry. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and that means the younger generations will latch onto an easy and accessible way to have fun.
The Digital Age and eSports
Back in the mid 2000’s, people were just learning what YouTube and that internet could provide for entertainment and marketing value. Fast forward to 2017, social media is seen to increase exposure of businesses 9 to 1 as opposed to other means. This means in a marketing campaign, 90% of increased interest in the brand will have come from social media.
Now more than ever, television shows are being streamed as the majority means of viewership compared to being watched on television. Tablets, phones, and gaming consoles are just a few of the many mediums that make it easy for everyone to enjoy themselves without having to do too much.
Convenience is what people long for, and it is finally here. Fans of traditional sports, such as football, see their favorite team play but cannot replicate that experience again with friends easily. With eSports, people watch a competitive match and can immediately play the same game as their favorite teams and players. Once a person is hooked onto the game, they will look for content to watch and learn how to improve. What better way than to watch the best of the best? ESports let people get excited about players who maximize what can be done in a game. For example, in League of Legends, what better way than to see someone grabbing the oh-so-satisfying Pentakill to propel their team forward.
Marketing and Trends
No one can deny love for memes, hype, and trends that inhabit social media and the digital space. People are more likely to all do the same thing such as watch The Avengers because it’s a social phenomenon. Nowadays with gaming only a few select titles are able to have a long and popular life cycle than before because marketing and media tells us what to buy and we listen. Games become eSports because of viewership and interest based off of what we purchase. We the gamers dictate what becomes competitive since companies will put money into continuously supporting it allowing for a long life cycle.
Newer titles such as For Honor were set out to become the next big multiplayer game, following in the similar release frame as Overwatch last year. But, gamers are quite selective and untrusting of companies and the quality of content on a new title. Overwatch succeeded because it had backing of the community of professional gamers, and the beta was an amazing experience. Many games simply have not been able to gather that kind of traction. Additionally, popular video games usually follow a trending genre. Now more than ever, team and class based gameplay are what consumers are looking for in a great game.
The Spectator Experience
For the 2016 League of Legends World Championship Finals at the Staples Center in LA, many new technologies were implemented that gave those who went a much better experience. The first one being the headsets for the players had a noise reduction filter to tune out the alarmingly loud crowd. This has been used in the NFL for a long time, and it seemed like a perfect fit to test and implement into the finals. Likewise, digital projection made the game more visually stimulating as statistics and graphics were displayed across the floor. Features like this are how eSports are getting aggressive to grow this industry and viewership specifically in North America. Having the finals in North America meant an opportunity for more exposure. Industry icons like Joshua “Jatt” Leesman, one of the casters for League of Legends professional circuit, brought awareness of the success of eSports and encouraged people to tune into the finals. The spectator experience must be similar to that of playing games: convenient and fun. What better way than to look at emerging technologies and see what they can offer to bring in more people to eSports?
Imagine an eSports spectator experience, but through the eyes of a virtual reality headset. The housing market has just started to use VR headsets as a method to let customers tour prospective houses without the expense of travel to the location. It is a new technology, but companies are looking for ways quickly to incorporate it into their brand. A popular eSport, DOTA 2, has announced that integration with be done with their competitive league soon. This is the first of many to catch on, but even so VR headsets and consumer friendly go about as close together as peanut butter and mayonnaise. This means the experience could be done at the venues where the event takes place, or make it enticing enough for someone to go out and purchase it. Also, unique perspectives on MOBAs (like being able to see the game horizontally instead of over the head like the game normally is) could be how it becomes a unique and sought after experience. ESports have a plethora of ways to make watching it more appealing, and it starts with looking forward to new technology.
Ease of Access
ESports will continue to be successful because of a simple concept: that anyone, anywhere, could game as a profession at any point. Everyone thinks that they are divine beings sent from the gamer gods. The reality is all of us suck, but that’s another discussion entirely. The small percent that does get to make a living off of it, and us everyday casuals imagining that possibility, are driven to push for more hours and strive to improve. The belief from a young age is that your occupation could never align with what you enjoy in your free time, but eSports shatters that concept with another thought: the opportunity of playing video games for a living.
Video games have been and always will be one of the best forms of entertainment. Whether it’s the escape from reality, or a way to intelligently outsmart other people around the world, the feeling cannot be duplicated. Along with the community it brings, everyone feels right at home. North America still has a little ways to go before eSports are seen in a different light. One that is respected in the same way as traditional sports that have been around for so long. Even though this is still relatively new, competitive gaming has grown so fast in such a short amount of time that it can only continue to go up from here. The emerging digital age, spectating, playing, new technologies, and so much more make up why people are so attracted to what competitive gaming has to offer.