The esports scene has recently seen a tremendous surge in recognition from varied sources. Mainstream media, casual gaming fans, and large companies alike are starting to take notice of this ever-expanding phenomenon.
As we’re beginning to see, this increased recognition comes with some significant change, change that is beginning to manifest across the esports landscape.
As to what this means specifically and where we seem to be headed, we can take a look at five specific changes we might expect to see, and in some cases are already seeing, around the industry.
This is already something that we’re starting to see, but when esports truly hits the mainstream, it’s likely to kick into overdrive. Some of the bigger companies in gaming have of late attempted to create their own competitively viable games in order to take advantage of the growing market.
It seems that as esports becomes more and more lucrative, the speed at which companies try to get in on the action increases dramatically. Not every company will be on board, of course, but those that have to be wary of their output – the esports scene generally hasn’t taken too kindly to pandering, cash-grab titles.
Take a look at almost any other type of sport. Whether it’s basketball, horse racing, or Formula 1, odds are there’s a gambling scene attached to it.
Once upon a time this sports-adjacent industry existed in casinos and in the shadows. But now there are online websites dedicated to sports gambling, including in the U.S. where such activity was fully prohibited just a couple of years ago. And with sports betting all the more popular and all the more out in the open, it stands to reason that esports will ultimately work its way in.
In fact, eSports betting already exists. But as more people become aware of this and the industry continues to grow, with new demographics being roped in, betting activity will increase.
This is something that’s already been happening as esports gets bigger, but when the industry does hit mainstream, its going to explode.
Many aspect of esports that have to do with numbers are going to be skyrocketing in the near future. Increased viewership is going to lead to a higher number of entrants at events. More entrants will mean increased payment for entry, which will in turn result in a larger pot of winnings. Increased viewership is also going to result in more companies and potential sponsors taking notice and providing funding for events.
In a way, this is all just a long way of articulating rampant growth. But it helps to break it down into the specific areas in which the numbers are going to start getting bigger.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news for fans of esports. One of the unfortunate side effects of the sport gaining more sponsors is that many of those sponsors will have stipulations about the treatment of their products, as well as what can and can’t be said on streams.
We’ve already seen some of this come into play at certain events. For example, Nintendo has in the past banned the use of certain stages in Smash Bros. due to the music that plays on them. Similarly, ESPN required the use of specific costumes in Street Fighter V before they would broadcast a tournament on live television. It’s an irksome give-and-take with increased sponsor funding coming at the cost of some options, but one that tournament organizers and fans alike will probably just have to get accustomed to.
This last prediction is somewhat grim, but it’s on a feeling of inevitability that cheating and hacking are bound to make some serious waves in the future. That’s not to say there haven’t been issues of unfair play in esports, asthere certainly have been. However, it would be foolish to head into the future of this massively expanding industry without acknowledging that we’re likely to see some big scandals still to come.
Esports is in a better position now than ever before, and for the most part things are looking up for the future. So long as players, tournament organizers, and sponsors can all adapt to the changes outlined above, this growing industry is going to be just fine.