The attention given to esports, both from the audience and media, is still very recent. What can we expect for the future? Several possible avenues are explored in this article.
By 2022, the global audience for esports might 644 million occasional or frequent viewers, according to a study by Statista. This is an increase of 60% compared to the 2018 audience. We can, therefore, expect a mass adoption in the near future. The audience will also be more diversified. For example, the new fans will count more women than the first stage fans.
Something that is still missing from the sport to obtain a global audience is a figure like Messi or Ronaldo for football. RTBF’s Video Gaming expert Gregory Carette notes that every gamer hopes to become the Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo of esports, which is not easy at the moment because of the disparities among games and fans. “One esports fan chases the other, » He adds, «A FIFA fan is not necessarily a fan of LoL, who is not necessarily a fan of CS:GO.” This difference will have to be overcome to conquer the entertainment world with esports.
Numerous observers emphasise the need to create new games which are simple, non-violent and mobile, to seduce a new audience. In other words, the games should speak to everyone and be simple to follow by a layperson. One finds both simple and easy to follow games, and stimulating games in Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality. The latter could become the future of esports.
On paper, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have an enormous potential for the esports industry. These technologies give the game a completely immersive experience which is totally different from 2D gaming. However, despite the promises made, VR and AR have not yet taken their place in the discipline. There are still multiple problems linked to gaming comfort and viewing experience, which are indispensable for esports. The financial aspect also hinders gamers from buying high-quality gear if they want to.
Nevertheless, ESL (the biggest esports company in the world) has launched a competition for virtual reality gamers called the VRL or the Virtual Reality League. The results are mostly positive at the moment even if the figures are not comparable to those of general esports. The last VRL season accumulated 6 million unique viewers, and the response of publishers and players was mostly positive, according to Sean Charles, ESL Publisher & Developer Relations’ Senior Vice President.
These are just two scenarios out of a hundred possible futures for esports. Will the industry become more popular than football? Will the sport make it to the Olympic Games? Will it disappear in favour of another form of entertainment? Only time will tell.