Competitive gaming, or esports, has been an ever-growing trend world-wide. It does not seem to be slowing down at all. It is however maturing and the original stigmas of what a gamer is and what a good gaming experience is still being refined. With that said, PC Gaming has always been king of the hill when it came to esports, however a new wave of competitive gaming has brought life into some previously less competitive environments.
Before we get too distracted with what is yet to come, let us discuss what has set the stage. Esports was not always known as esports, originally one would simply speak of competitive gaming. This was to differentiate those who were competing for the sake of competition versus those competing for fun. Although it may not sound like a big difference, the result changed the landscape of gaming. Instead of individuals or teams playing with their friends, competitive gamers sought out the best possible competition regardless of geographic location or personal relationships. After a fair amount of time this led to renumeration through gaming to be possible and although even then it was not a glamorous thing to do, the consistency and interest from fans led to a true profession being born – where the top players and teams earned respectable-to-large salaries and gained fame for their endeavours.
The reality is that mobile and console games were left behind. PC Gaming had the clear lead when it came to esports. When an individual played for fun, it was done on a console or even on their mobile device. When an individual played professionally, it was done on a PC. This stigma has started to change though, as console and mobile players have shown a greater interest in esports and are demanding an experience for themselves. Although these platforms do have their shortcomings, the sheer volume of console and mobile gamers has meant that even though a small portion of these communities are competitive, it has truly added up.
I would confidently say that the rise of competitive gaming is owed to the success of fighting games on the console. Although titles like Mortal Kombat and Street fighter were originally enjoyed in arcades, time has passed, and you will now find your favourite fighting games on a console. The success of these franchises is truly remarkable. Games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat have been stalwarts at massive and flourishing events like EVO. Some of the greatest esports moments have come from the hands of these professional gamers and the ease of which these titles can be played makes for an amazing viewer friendly game. Street fighter in particular checks many of the boxes required for a successful esport. It is not too graphic to discourage potential sponsors; the game is technically challenging enough to be rewarding for pro-gamers and the speed and gameplay is absolutely amazing to watch. Evidently, it has led the charge for console gamers to be considered as true esports athletes.
As mentioned above, an integral part of the success of console esports, is sheer volume of gamers. I doubt many franchises can boast such an extraordinary and passionate community as the Call of Duty franchise. Call of Duty regularly hosts large esports events and the pro-scene is supported heavily by its fans. The biggest names in COD dwarf some mainstream celebrities and their lives are often followed by mainstream media in the same vain as singers, actors and traditional sportsmen. Call of Duty is also an ever-changing experience, as games are released yearly. This does limit some of the involvement from an esports perspective, as unlike some of the super successful PC Titles like CSGO, LoL and Dota2, which are effectively free, meaning that those that cannot afford to dish out the fairly expensive cost per year are unable to be included. Regardless, the community is very very very large and very active… A sponsor’s dream in every conceivable way. Watch this space.
Another title that needs little introduction, is EA Sports very own FIFA franchise. Much like COD, a fresh version is released every year which does limit some of the possibilities for the franchise as an esport, however football fanaticism plus addictive gameplay means that anyone who enjoys the beautiful game or simply gaming has a reason to enjoy FIFA – Making dishing out its yearly cost less painful. Let’s face it, Esports is taking over the world… but slowly. The next generation will likely see esports rise to true stardom and overcome most traditional sports. The tide is coming and perhaps only a game like football will truly survive, but in doing so, FIFA may eventually become the single largest esport in the world… Unless Rocket League is able to surpass real football that is.
I did mention that this was not only about console, but mobile games too. Amazingly, there is an even more accessible option for gamers than consoles. More people own smart phones than consoles, so perhaps the sleeping dragon is charging next to your bedside table. Titles such as PUBG Mobile have had excessive success. Once more, although the nature of the gamers is less competitive than both console and PC. Mobile gamers are everywhere and their options endless. If not PUBG, perhaps Pokemon Go will become competitive, maybe it will be a yet to be seen augmented reality game that will explode. Regardless of what it ends up being, mobile gamers are real gamers and they are here to stay. Welcome to the team.
I think an important aspect to take out of this, is that this is a team game. There is a good chance that technology will end up replacing how we game entirely. Perhaps all gamers will be mobile, perhaps it’ll be virtual reality experiences that reign supreme… but all of that is ok, esports and gaming are growing and at the end of the day, we are all on the same side. It’s probably a good time to drop concepts such as ‘PC Master race.’ Let’s all get along and bring even more people into the fray and once everyone is a gamer, we can let them decide if they prefer The International or Call of Duty World League more.