The term “esports boom” has been used to describe the unprecedented rise of the competitive gaming sector over the past two years, and this is not without merit. While esports has been growing in popularity for a number of years, the unprecedented events that have characterized the new decade catapulted competitive gaming into the spotlight.
This is because, due to its largely remote format, it was an example of a competitive events culture that did not have to radically alter its schedule in light of widespread public restrictions.
This is unlike the traditional sports industry, which experienced a huge loss of potential revenue following blanket cancellations of big-ticket events. It just so happened that esports, which had been quietly maturing in the background into a comprehensive and polished entertainment enterprise, was perfectly positioned to capture those, suddenly disaffected, audiences.
Of course, there’s more to the picture than this, as evidenced by the fact that while life is slowly returning to normal, esports is still growing rapidly and its growth is boosting the entire online gaming industry alongside it.
Now new, unexpected games are finding their way into the esports fold, and successful game types such as free-to-play are experiencing a surge in popularity thanks to their visibility at esports events.
Traditional Games Experiencing Uptick
While the keenest example of esports’ influence can be felt in the realm of leading multiplayer video games, the impact of its time in the sun has led to many diverse sub-sectors benefiting from increased engagement.
One of the chief examples of this trend is that of chess – a 2500-year-old game that seems to go from strength to strength. The boom in popularity surrounding esports has brought many new players and streamers into contact with the joys of this classic board game.
In addition to the rise of esports, many points to the runaway success of 2020’s Netflix original drama, The Queen’s Gambit, as a key driver in chess’ trendy turn. That show starred Anya Taylor-Joy in a racy biopic adaptation of the life of 60s chess prodigy, Beth Harmon.
Among the most successful shows in Netflix’s history, it introduced a new wave of players to the subtleties of the game. Now, it ranks among the most popular titles streamed on platforms such as Twitch, pointing to some considering chess to be the world’s fastest-growing esport at present.
Still, other digital variants of classic games are enjoying sustainable growth at present, even in regions not traditionally associated with them. A key example of this is online roulette, which is provided to gamers through leading platforms such as the comparison service Asiabet.
This site serves as a directory of competitive sign-up bonuses and promotions, and in connecting players from the Indian sub-continent and beyond with this casino classic, it contributes to this game reaching new demographics and user bases around the world.
Free-to-Play Paving the Way
Among mainstream video game variants, the free-to-play sector is widely credited with being the chief driving force behind the growth of online gaming. This is because they have brought the fun of “MMO” (massive multiplayer) gaming to a wider audience.
While MMOs have always been popular among a certain contingent of gamers, with immensely successful RPGs like World of Warcraft becoming genuine cultural touchstones at their peak, these titles required a significant investment of time and energy in order to build up player levels, beat bosses and collect gear.
This makes them unappealing and unsuited to more casual gamers. Free-to-play games, as epitomized by PUBG and Fortnite, adopt an altogether different format that delivers on the diverse interactions afforded by a massive multiplayer context by bracketing the experience within time-bounded games.
These games are often known as battle royales, and function as elimination contests where a large number of players, typically one hundred, battle it out until only one survives. Games of this sort generally last for around ten minutes, making them eminently accessible to casual gamers.
This game sector also pioneered a method of implementing microtransactions that have proven to be extremely influential across the wider games industry. By offering their base games free of charge, they guarantee a high and consistent user base.
With this achieved, they then advertise to players the option to purchase any number of aesthetic customization features for their characters. These features do not confer a tangible advantage to players, but instead make them feel able to express themselves in-game, engendering greater investment and positive regard for these titles.
This method has proven incredibly lucrative, with Fortnite earning $9 billion in its first 2 years alone through microtransaction sales.