Although the idea of being paid to play video games professionally might once have sounded like fantasy, competitive gaming is big business and an option that more and more people are pursuing.
Despite being a niche attraction a decade ago, the rising popularity of esports is nothing short of incredible. From being a relatively fringe pastime for endemic fans to cutting across gender, age, and nationality, esports is now one of the fastest-growing professional sports in the world.
In fact, esports has grown so quickly that analysts are predicting the industry will be worth $1.5 billion by 2023. And in perhaps an even stronger indicator of the growth of this professional sport, it is now the case that universities have begun to take notice of this industry.
According to the National Association of Collegiate eSports, over 170 colleges based in the United States have established full-fledged intervarsity esports programs. If you are lucky, your esports skills could even help lower education costs, with around $16 million in scholarships being up for grabs each year.
With all that said, what are the most popular esports games at the moment and what does the future look like for the scene in general?
Much like regular athletic endeavors, the esports scene is a world filled with specialists. This means that it is quite unusual, although not completely unheard of, to have an esports athlete who specializes in a number of different games. Esports players tend to choose one particular game genre and concentrate on it.
For this reason, there is little crossover between games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike. There is good reason for this, as generally speaking, a completely different set of abilities will be tested by each respective game type. There have been a handful of players who have jumped between radically different games.
In terms of the most common types of games you will see represented in esports tournaments, the Counter-Strike series has been a lasting favorite. The most recent version of this popular first-person shooter, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, has paid out over $100 million in prize pool winnings alone. On the MOBA side of things, League of Legends is by far the most popular, paying out $79 million in prize money while some players are making seven-figure annual salaries. Other popular games include Fortnite, Dota 2, and Call of Duty.
Going a little further into 2021, however, will these games remain on top? Are we about to see some challengers enter the race or will the old classics continue to dominate?
Although fantasy football and other fantasy sports games are incredibly popular online, sports games have always lagged behind somewhat in the world of esports. However, thanks to the efforts of WSN.com, a trusted online sports portal, we’ve been able to get our hands on some of the best NFL promos. In recent years sports games have become increasingly popular on the esports scene. In particular, the familiar annual franchise of Madden NFL games has increased significantly in popularity this year and could make some progress in the future.
Fighting games are another genre that could break out at any time. Classic arcade games such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat have always been popular to some degree, but haven’t attracted the broader audiences that PC games have. Many of these games have broad appeal that could break out.
Whether these new titles will be able to unseat familiar fan favorites such as Dota 2, League of Legends and CS:GO, however, remains to be seen.