In 2021, these e-sports had a turnover of more than one billion dollars, according to data provided by Newzoo. Furthermore, the forecast of this consultancy specialising in video games for 2022 and 2023 is for a strong increase, with Asia and the United States being the leaders in the sector, while in Europe, Spain is positioned among the countries with the highest market penetration.
This growth comes not only from smartphone usage, but also from other accelerators such as cloud gaming environments, the metaverse, Web3 or NFTs.
What are eSports?
The concept of eSports, electronic sports or cyber sports are competitions that take place in the video game environment, and constitute an industry with great potential in the field of entertainment. Traditionally, gamers gathered around a game console to play a game of their favourite game. However, what started as a hobby has evolved over time to become an activity that is professional, organised and capable of hosting an important mass of followers with a physical and online presence.
Like traditional sports, eSports are organised by leagues and game types, and their structure is very similar. However, players in this digital environment are popularly known as gamers and can compete in teams or individually. Similarly, winners are awarded titles, prizes and rewards, and the magnitude of these depend on the type of competition and the sponsors who organise them.
In order to achieve some kind of prize or title, players in this sporting discipline must also train on a daily basis. Many of the players are professionals and earn salaries commensurate with their skills, and their popularity can even be compared to the big stars of traditional sports.
Such has been the impact of e-sports in recent years that many sports clubs, universities and large companies now have their own teams. Some of the most significant Spanish examples include UCAM Tokiers or Movistar Riders.
The industry that has emerged from this activity does not focus exclusively on players, clubs and sponsors. There is a wide range of professionals linked to this sporting environment: coaches, psychological and physical trainers, performance enhancement experts, agents or journalists.
Which video games are considered eSports?
But not all video games can be considered e-sports, as they must meet the following characteristics:
- Have a design for two or more participants to compete against each other.
- Have rules, conditions and requirements for participation, with the aim that the winner will prevail thanks to his or her skills and efforts.
- Have an organised league to develop official rivalries.
- To achieve a high number of players, in order to arouse the interest of spectators and the media
Why are eSports so popular?
Their growing popularity is not only linked to the large amounts of money that winners of such games manage, but also to their accessibility. Unlike traditional sports, eSports only requires internet access, allowing participants to connect from anywhere in the world without physical barriers, comfortably from home, even via a smartphone.
The development of streaming and the 5G network have also been decisive, as streaming platforms allow players to watch games in real time, without lag times (latency) and even interact with their viewers or subscribers.
Video game culture is based on playing games and watching other people play competitions. According to some studies, most video game consumers today spend a similar amount of time playing games as they do watching competitions of their favourite streamers. Its popularity was reflected in 2017 after the League of Legends World Championship, which was attended by more than 80 million viewers. For this reason, major platforms and TV channels, such as Disney or SyFy, are investing in organising such events.
What are the most played eSports?
Although there are a multitude of gamers, platforms, developers and devices, and there is a wide catalogue of possibilities, there are three of these video games that stand out for their fame:
Fortnite. It emerged in 2017, and in just a few years it has become one of the most popular and played games. It has broken records for the number of players in a single session, reaching 12 million. It is based on a Battle Royale game mode, where there are no teams and the goal is to be the last survivor of the competition, in matches that can involve up to 100 players.
League of Legends. This game is popularly known among the gaming community as LoL is one of the games with the longest trajectory and consolidation, since the first championship was held in 2009. Since then, its viewership and popularity has grown massively, reaching up to 3.8 million viewers.
LoL is based on logic and strategy, and to start the game you need to have two teams of five players each. Players in the game are known as “champions”, and each has four unique skills necessary to achieve the team’s objectives.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Known as CS: Go, this first-person shooter game in which two teams compete against each other. To achieve victory, each team has its own mission: the counter-terrorists must try to free the hostages and the terrorists must detonate an explosive. CS:Go is estimated to have around 30 million players worldwide.