ESports is one of the most promising industries of 2020. According to the Business Insider’s ESports Ecosystem Report 2020, it will grow over $1.5 billion by the end of 2023. Not only that, but it is also becoming the preferred form of entertainment for millions of players worldwide. Part of its fame is due to the progress in technology which has led to the rise in the use of live game streaming options. Ken from evolutionofesports reports that Twitch, YouTube, Facebook gaming, and mixer are some of the major live game streaming platforms, with Twitch being the most popular of them all.
The other part of its growth is accredited to the accessibility of internet services. The rise of the digital era has facilitated the growth of the ESports industry and gaming websites. Almost all countries across the globe have access to the internet and can surf their way through to these websites.
Besides these, credit also goes to the writers, designers, animators, and music composers who put their time and energy in crafting these games. They come up with emotionally relatable storylines, relevant music, and high-quality graphics which contribute to the success and growth of the ESports industry. The more the players get attached to characters and derive value from the experience they had playing the game, the more these games get popular.
Having highlighted the projected growth and explaining the possible reasons behind it, let us take a look at the process of evolution of the ESports industry.
Evolution of ESports Industry
Some people believe that ESports is a relatively new field and it probably developed over the past 4-5 years which is not true. ESports have been around since the day the first video game was launched in the 1950s. The video game sporting events that were held by various universities back in the day required students and participants to be present at the arena physically and compete against each other. With the progress in technology, not only did the video games evolve but also the platforms they were hosted on and the consoles that were being used to play them changed.
This evolution of video gaming industry over the years paved the way for the ESports industry and in 1996, first-ever ESports events called Evolution Championship Series (EVO) were held. Some of the major games of the 90s included Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom. Both these games involved fighting face-to-face battles involving multiplayer modes, thus giving birth to the modern action genre and multiplayer mode.
A brief account of all the historical events which took place since the 1950s until today and contributed to the evolution of the ESports industry is mentioned below.
1950’s – 1980’s | The Early Times
In 1950 the first video game was launched which was called ‘XOX’. It is more commonly known as ‘Tic-Tac-Toe’. One player could play the game against the computer. Eight years later, in 1958, the first video game that allowed two humans to compete against each other was developed. It was called ‘Tennis for Two’ and could be played with joysticks.
In 1972, Stanford University held a video gaming competition for the game ‘Spacewar’. The competition attracted approximately 24 participants. The competition’s prize was a yearlong subscription of Rolling Stone magazine which was claimed by Bruce Baumgart, Tovar, and Robert E. Maas.
In 1980, another video gaming competition that attracted almost 10,000 participants was held. This time, it was hosted by Atari, a leading arcade game, home video game consoles, and home computers’ dealers. It was called the ‘Space Invaders Championship’. After that, throughout out the ’80s, various video gaming competitions were held constantly. These competitions were held via different platforms which included television shows as well. They were also covered by newspapers, magazines and popularized by including them in movies’ plots. All these efforts led to the fame of arcade and home video gaming and gave rise to competitive video gaming culture.
1990’s | The Era Of Massive Improvement
The 90s started off with the world championships organized by Nintendo and Blockbuster Video. These events allowed participants from various countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, Chile, Canada, and the United States itself. The championships were a massive hit and played their part in the growth and development of ESports. Not only these championships attracted thousands of participants from many countries, but they also helped in the promotion of games such as NBA Jam and Virtua Racing.
Apart from the many world-class championships and events, video gaming competitions and skits became a part of mainstream media with various popular television shows being based on them. At the same time, huge progress was being made in the fields of consoles, software/hardware technology, and the internet itself. All these added up and 90s became the limelight years of ESports and video gaming industry.
Some of the most popular gaming tournaments of the 90s include QuakeCon, Cyberathlete Professional League, and Professional Gamers League. Similarly, some of the most popular games of the 90s include Counter-Strike which is still a highly popular game.
2000’s | The Blooming Era Of Esports
With the dawn of the millennium, ESports entered their full bloom era. Television folks started giving air time for covering ESports events across countries such as South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The building of broadband internet also facilitated ESports alongside many renowned ESports channels being established and championships being held. A variety of engaging and interactive video games were released in this era such as League of Legends, Dota 2, WarCraft III, etc.
Some of the major accomplishments of this era were getting ESports recognized and registered as ‘Sport’ in various countries, the establishment of International ESports Federation, inclusion in Olympics Games, and athletic scholarships offered by various universities.
ESports gaming industry has grown exponentially over the years. The experts have predicted the ESports industry’s revenue to cross the billion dollars mark this year. This information presents an opportunity for both, investors and aspiring ESports players.