This website loves eSports, it really does. However, that doesn’t mean that they will always be around. Or that they are as big as they are purported to be. It is easy to get embroiled in the hype and believe that eSports is going to replace regular sports but let’s take our foot off the proverbial gas for just one second and take a look at the other side of the coin.
Is it the .com bubble all over again?
For those of you a little older you might remember the dot-com bubble in the mid-nineties. With the internet just out of its infancy, people invested big bucks in all manner of websites. The technology was new and people saw it as a way to get very rich. In some ways they weren’t wrong. There was always going to be money to make on the internet, but not every business investment was going to be big. Most of them fizzled leaving investors massively out of pocket.
For those of us who lived through that the rise to prominence of eSports seems somewhat familiar. Prizes have skyrocketed from a few hundred dollars for winning a contest to million dollar rewards. Hyperbole would have us believe that in another decade video games are going to be in the Olympics and the playing of them will attract more attention than the Superbowl, but is this correct?
Even the devil can quote scripture
Of course, there are some reports you can’t ignore. It is a matter of fact that A gaming company was just purchased for a cool hundred million dollars. You can take that as read. However there are lots of other claims that are less robust. The question here isn’t whether Infinite sold for a hundred million, but rather should it have. Let’s take a look at some of the more bold claims used to substantiate that eSports is “taking over the world”
The Olympic dream
There is a lot of talk about getting eSports entered into the Olympics. There is somewhat of a precedent in so much as they have archery in the Olympics and that weird skying/shooting thing in the winter Olympics (is that really a sport?) so surely Call of Duty isn’t too far removed from those events right? It’s just shooting, after all, it’s just you are using a control pad rather than an actual bow and arrow or gun.
Intel, who are a partner to the Olympic committee has been discussing the value of eSports in the Olympics. To that end in the Beijing Olympics an eSports tournament was held in tandem with the Olympics. Although it was not an official Olympic event. The Olympic commission has insisted that any sport added must not impinge on Olympic values which seems to be a slight on eSports. There is also the fact that darts has been trying to get into the Olympics for aeons without any success.
Bigger than NFL
The other gambit used to show the growth of eSports is that the viewership for the League of Legends final did better figures than last years Superbowl. The Superbowl has seen diminishing viewership over the past few years. The suggestion is that eSports could one day oust the sport as the US’s favourite past time. Although this may be true it is misleading. NFL matches regularly sell out massive stadiums week in week out. eSports has nowhere near that popularity. Even though the revenue in the industry is increasing at a rapid rate, even if it continues unabated at its current rate by 2020 it will still only be a fraction of what the NFL pulls.
It remains to be seen if the eSports industry is a bubble. Other sports have shown a growth year in year out consistently. Take soccer as for instance where transfers are higher now then they have ever been and probably will continue to rise forever. Could we see the same with eSports or will the bubble finally burst?