The world of video games was already quietly becoming one of the fastest growing and lucrative communities in the entertainment industry in the years prior to 2020, but saw its stock completely boom throughout 2020 thanks in part to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns around the world leaving millions of people stuck at home with much more time on their hands than usual. The video game industry is now worth more than music and films put together, and one of the most blossoming communities within this industry is its professional strang, Esports.
Here’s everything you need to know about Esports.
What Are Esports?
Put simply, ‘Esports’ is the industry term used to describe the communities involved with playing specific video games professionally. Essentially the goal of every gamer out there, Esports has established itself as a way for players to get paid to play games and carve out successful careers for themselves.
It’s important to remember that Esports is much closer to being an umbrella term for an industry, rather than a single entity. Just like how someone can’t really call themselves an expert or professional in every single real world sport, the same is very much the case for those in the Esports community. Each and every game within the industry its own style and its own scene, and enough diversity to really stand out from one another.
The popularity of video games has of course always existed, however the explosion in its standing as a hyper-competitive industry has largely come from the influx of investment from huge multinational companies. From teams and players being sponsored to the likes of Coca-Cola, Intel, Monster, DHL and Mercedes all hosting their own partnerships and events in either one game specifically, or an entire plethora of titles.
What Does A Game Need To Be A Successful Esport?
The absolute key to success for an Esport is longevity, i.e. creating a game that people can play for years and years. Most of the biggest titles in the industry have been around for well over a decade, which is certainly a unique timeframe for a community as volatile as the world of video games.
The secret to this is blending together a simple premise and addictive gameplay features with a skill ceiling that allows players to sink hundreds of hours into and truly master. When you watch professional players play games like CS:GO or League of Legends, it’s almost like watching them play a different game to the mainstream, more casual types of players. That additional 1% is the difference between those who make money playing video games and those who only play games for the fun of it.
As a side note to the point above, it’s important to remember that the pros who play games as professionals do it literally as a living. Whilst gaming is so often seen as a recreational activity that players can dip in and out of and switch around if they don’t like their chosen title, Esports professionals have to grind their chosen titles for literally thousands upon thousands of hours playing almost every single day.
What Are The Most Popular Esports Games?
As mentioned above, the Esports industry is heavily saturated by games that have been around for years, and who have been able to cultivate their own armies of fans and followers. Because most of the leading Esports games have been built alongside the growth of the industry as a whole and been around for years and years, their fans and followers are some of the most devout and passionate in the entire video game sphere.
In terms of overall player base and global recognition, it’s hard to argue against League of Legends still being the world’s most popular Esport title. The game boasts an active player count of over 250 million users, with an epicentre of popularity in China and South Korea especially, and its annual Worlds Championship is one of the most hyped up events in the Esports calendar.
In terms of first person shooters, there’s no debating the status of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as the biggest Esport out there and still arguably the second biggest game in the industry. The game places so much emphasis on playing angles, holding positions and reading strategies in a much more enthralling way than the likes of Call of Duty, Apex Legends or Overwatch. High profile CS:GO matches regularly pull in over 100,000 viewers at a time on online streaming platforms such as Twitch.tv and the game houses possibly the most stacked events calendar out of any game available to pick and play.
The industry has also opened up the possibility of new titles emerging onto the scene and carving out a home for themselves though, and the likes of Fortnite, Valorant, Rocket League and Call of Duty: Warzone to come in and establish lucrative competitive scenes of their own.