In the fall of 2016, the U.S. hosted one of the biggest esports events in the world. It attracted over 47,000 live attendees and 43 million online viewers and was held in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Participants competed for supremacy by battling it out in the virtual world of online video games. The prize pool? $5,070,000. While the attendance has since been broken by subsequent gaming events, the prize money was the largest among events played in the last 5 years. This, along with other related events, helped establish the powerhouse that eSports would become.
From a sports culture subset to a full-fledged industry, eSports has grown significantly in the last 10 years. Thanks to technology that keeps improving, faster internet speeds, and stunningly immersive games, eSports has evolved into becoming a whole new force that is shaping the way people view and participate in sports and entertainment.
What is ESports?
Esports, also known as electronic sports, is a competitive online sport that utilizes video games. Video games are typically multiplayer platforms that may be played by individuals or by teams. The competitions are organized and often sponsored by both gaming and non-gaming companies.
There is no question that the interest in eSports is growing. According to eSports League Fans, from 2018 to 2019, the industry has grown by 12%. Already, the total number of enthusiasts and viewers is estimated to be at 440 million, at least. In the next two to three years, the industry is expected to grow by about 11% annually. In 2020 alone, the industry generated over $800 million. And esports will not be confined to PCs and console platforms only. Already, it is enjoying a significant increase in popularity among mobile users, especially in India, Brazil, and Southeast Asia.
At the heart of eSports is the video game. The current roster of video games is mostly played online and categorized as:
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)
MOBAs are team-based role-playing games wherein competing teams attempt to defeat each other by controlling individual characters. The goal of these characters is to work together as a team or individually to fight the opposing team’s characters and ultimately destroy the opponents’ main structure or base. MOBAs were originally a type of real-time strategy games, although it usually does not require players to build structures.
-Aeon of Strife
-League of Legends
-Arena of Valor
-Heroes of the Storm
Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
Real-time strategy esports are played simultaneously by two or more players in real-time. In this subgenre, the main purpose is usually accumulating resources, launching and fielding attacks, and expanding one’s base. Resources are used to build a variety of objects such as structures and units (including weapons). These are used to defeat the opponent/s by launching attacks against them. Players must also defend their bases against similar attacks.
Popular RTS Games:
-Command and Conquer
-Age of Empires II
First-Person Shooter (FPS)
FPS games are video games wherein a player takes on a character and uses weapons and/or fighting skills to defeat either another player-controlled character or a computer-generated character. This game is played from a first-person perspective, wherein the player experiences events and situations unfolding through the protagonist’s eyes.
Popular FPS games:
-Left for Dead
-Call of Duty
Battle royale games are multiplayer video games that involve survival gameplay. The object of the game is to collect equipment and eliminate other players within a specified playing area. The last player/survivor or team wins.
Note: The term battle royale is inspired by the eponymous book and film from Japan released in 2000.
Popular Battle Royale Games:
-Garena Free Fire
-Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
-Ring of Elysium
Fighting games are video games that involve close, often hand-to-hand combat between two or more players. The fight usually occurs on a fixed stage within which players compete. The goal of the game is to defeat the other player/s or score points within a set time period. Some of the most successful games that appeared in game arcades in the 1990s such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken have their 21st-century incarnations, allowing a new generation of gamers to enjoy them.
Popular Fighting Games:
-Dragon Ball Fighter Z
-The King of Fighters
-Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
-Mortal Kombat XL
-Streetfighter 30th Anniversary Edition
Monetizing Your Skills in eSports Games
When many of the industry’s best players are earning up to $5 million for their skills, joining the ranks of eSports players is as tempting as ever. Becoming a pro is the best way to earn a good income from playing online video games. Pros are paid through the following:
Many gamers, especially those who are starting to build their following, do live streaming on platforms such as Twitch and Youtube. Livestreams are usually done by gamers who already have some recognition while beginner gamers usually record themselves playing and upload the videos later on Youtube. On live streams, gamers can play and talk to fans at the same time.
Gamers who live stream on Twitch may enter a partner program. With this program, a gamer can earn $3 each time the number of viewers who watch ads reach 1,000. He/She can also earn $5 each month for each subscriber. Gamers can also earn through donations, referral links, and sponsorships.
Sponsorship and Advertising
Sponsorship and advertising are the biggest sources of revenue for eSports players. Top gamers often attract the attention of sponsors who pay them to use and promote the company’s products. Currently, sponsors who are actually involved in the gaming industry include Intel and Comcast Xfinity. Even non-gaming companies have chipped in, contributing much to the growth and support that the eSports industry is enjoying. Companies that are considered top eSports sponsors include Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, The Kraft Group, Honda, Mercedes Benz, Marvel, and even the U.S. Air Force.
Gamers also earn by selling merchandise that promotes their skills or unique personalities. Merchandise often consists of clothing and accessories such as hats, caps, and bags. Gamers release their own designs and earn with every sale they generate, either through third-party sites or from their own sites.
Some of the biggest leagues offer revenue sharing, wherein a portion of the income generated is paid to individual teams. The sources of this income include broadcasting rights and ticket sales.
Tournament prize pools remain the biggest sources of income for eSports gamers. Already, three of the top gamers have broken the $6 million figure and prize pools are expected to continue rising.
The ESport Career
eSports is an industry that is largely designed for the young. As such, many gamers are in their teens or early 20s. In some tournaments, an age limit may even be imposed. Gamer careers in eSports are also very limited, which explains why many gamers retire young, often at 24 or 25. There are, however, gamers who have defied this limitation, playing well into their 30s and even 40s. All in all, the eSports industry presents an exciting and exhilarating ride for those who are willing and capable, as long as they have the right skills, equipment, and expectations.