When Does a Video Game Become a High-End Esport?

by Garrett Klein
on November 12, 2017

You slowly move your cursor to select your unit to attack the enemy base. The decision has finally come, and it is time to either push the attack now or retreat to the safety of your fort.

The choice is clear, and you move forward with your teammates at your back. Minions are running your way and are swatted aside with ease.

Suddenly, your opponent’s show themselves to make a final stand against you. Your team rushes in to meet the opposition head-on, activating ultimate abilities on the way. The screen erupts in a myriad of flashes and colors as the chaos unfolds.

As the smoke settles, your team stands victorious over the skirmish. Slowly, you move triumphantly onward to destroy the enemy base. Victory is yours as a deafening crowd erupts all around you.

Thousands of people cheering your success in the massive esports arena.

You take off your headset and glance back at the crowd, smiling. Who would have thought playing your favorite video game would turn out to become your career?

The world has quickly been changing over the past few years, and as far as esports goes, it’s for the better. No longer are they just games played for entertainment. Instead, they can become careers performing in front of thousands of cheering fans.

The dream of every little child sitting and playing their favorite video game has become a reality for those skilled and lucky enough.

Let’s talk about how a video game transitions from becoming just that—a game—to a professional esport. If you are a bettor in the esports scene, it is essential that you follow this information so you can keep up to date with the hottest games making their way to the main stage.

Video Games Keep Changing

The world of video games is continuously evolving in both design and features. No longer are games just merely for time-wasting entertainment. They are graphical masterpieces that become a small part of your life, forging memories that can last for years.

If you have noticed the trend in video games, developers have placed a tremendous focus on adding multiplayer elements to all games.

Video Games

The reason for this? Aside from making the games more social, they are also becoming more competitive.

Video games have delved down two separate paths. Single player games are meant to tell an intricate story as you progress through to the end. They are as immersive as a fantastic book and as visually appealing as a well-developed movie.

The multiplayer path pushes the concept that they are meant to be played with others in a social atmosphere, either in a cooperative manner or as opponents. In retrospect, all video games can be considered esports.

However, making it to the top of the esports scene is a whole new ball game. Games need to be simple enough for people to understand right away, yet challenging enough to master so veterans can continually grow.

The idea is simple enough, yet only a few have made their way to the main stage.

Competitive Play

The whole concept of having competition is what gives a game further depth than your standard linear story-line development.  Single player games are designed with a beginning and an end so that players can have a sense of accomplishment.

Multiplayer aspects are added into the games to further develop the storyline so that it provides a never-ending scenario since you can’t wholly defeat other players. You may win the match, but the war is not over.

Let’s look at the game of Halo and the in-depth background that it has. There is an immersive storyline with a single player or co-op campaign option. The game is incredibly detailed and well thought out, yet what everyone remembers about the game is multiplayer.

“Why is this?” you may wonder. Frankly, the multiplayer is where the competitive scene could flourish, and as good as the single-player game was, it was meant to be beaten. The multiplayer option was ever expanding, and the only way to consider yourself victorious was to win tournaments.

There were many types of games that followed that exact model, and for a game to truly succeed in the esports arena, they needed to have a final competitive scene to take it to the next level.

If a game cannot get played in a tournament style setting against other players, it is tough to grow.

Amount of Players

Of course, we cannot forget one of the essential aspects of any video game title released—how many players are involved. The popularity of a game will directly influence whether it will get incorporated into the esports scene or not.

There are multiple games out there that get designed with competition in mind, yet they never catch on with the public. If a game doesn’t become a hit with the masses, then it is doubtful it will become featured in the esports scene.

Many understand that they need to grow their player universe very quickly if they wish to become successful in this cutthroat market. The rise of freemium style games is an excellent example of how gaming companies have embraced the need for a player-driven game universe.

Freemium style games are just that—free. Players can download the titles at no charge and then purchase additional options within the game if they so desire. Using this model is a quick way to get people involved in the digital world they have developed.

Players are further inclined to give games a try since, after all, there is no cost to them in giving it a shot. The model is great if you have a quality game on your hands because people are accustomed to anything being free as underwhelming. Nothing better than a pleasant surprise.

The people involved in these gaming universes will not only add to the overall professional player base options out there, but these fans will be the backbone when it comes to pushing specific gaming titles to the mainstream. Esports enthusiasts are as much a part of the scene as the players themselves.

Money Involved

Just like everything in this world, it all comes down to money. Esports is no different. When determining if a video game should make its way into the competitive scene, the money involved will be the deciding factor. The manner in which finances get applied to esports can be endless.

Primarily, money comes into play most directly through the prize pools associated with esports. Let’s be honest, most people would not care about competitive video gaming at all if there weren’t vast amounts of prize money involved.

For example, let’s look at The International 2017. This tournament boasted a prize pool close to $25 million, and the top team received over $10 million themselves. 2nd through 6th place received between $1 million and close to $4 million.

That is an excessive amount of money no matter how you spin it. Not a shabby wage to make for one tournament.

Since such large numbers are surrounding the prize pools, there is a lot of interest generated around esports games such as Dota 2.

The interest comes from players, fans, sponsors and bettors alike. Having games that players can place wagers on adds to the appeal because they make them fall into a similar line of traditional sports. The more options for players to place bets will make the game that much more valuable.

Let us not forget there is a huge market for advertising and pay-per-view streaming that has exploded from the scene. Esports viewership rivals’ traditional sports at this point. If you ever wonder why the esports scene has grown so much then just remember to follow the money.

Spectator Appeal

Regardless of everything else involved in the broad world of video games, spectator appeal will decide whether a game can become a favorite esport or not.

Just like traditional sports, games must be entertaining enough for crowds to gather around and cheer on their favorite teams and players.

What exactly entices crowds to one style of a video game over another? That question is akin to explaining why someone prefers football or baseball. Of course, the fanbase will have different tastes on what they prefer.

However, one thing seems to be universal when it comes to what we desire in our sporting entertainment, and that is action. As fans, we like to see things happening so that we can get hyped up and excited about what we are currently watching.

What we look for within the traditional world of sports is very similar to what we seek out in the esports scene.

There is a reason that Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas and First-Person Shooters are the most popular esports.

These types of games provide the most action and entertainment for the audience because there is always something going on. In MOBAs, for example, multiple lanes and players are working together and against opponents.

The multiple lane systems that get utilized in these types of games is a tricky game of tug-of-war. You cannot focus directly on one lane for too long without putting the others at risk.

For example, if one team focuses the top path, you can get tied up by 2 or 3 opponents. The team focusing the top lane may not make the progression into the enemy territory they planned to since their opponents are there and are holding them at bay.

While the battle is at a standstill there, the opposing team has other players free and can push one of the additional lanes freely.

For spectators, there are a lot of different activities going on all at once, and if a team makes the wrong decision, they can go from a potential win to getting decimated. The same concept goes with First-Person Shooters where one player can go on an absolute rampage.

They might just get into that mindset where they can take down every single player that gets in their way and change the tides of the game.

Remember, what makes an esport so exciting to the fans is the whole idea that things can change in an instant.

The Wrap Up

There are many concepts to keep in mind that make a good video game turn into a great esport that becomes a classic within the scene. There are plenty of games out there that can appeal to the masses.

Games can always become an accepted esport if they have tournaments and money around them, but staying in power should be the goal. To become a well-respected title, they need to ensure that they have competition, players and money behind them.

As esports bettors, we understand the more popular games will dictate the availability and types of wagers we can make on them.

Remember, it is critical that we keep an eye on the potential up-and-comers within the scene so that we can have an edge when they do make it to the main stage.

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