eSports is still an obscure term to some people, which is understandable. It is, after all, difficult to blend the concepts of video games and sports. But, if it wasn’t already obvious, eSports are on track to fast becoming one of the most popular sporting events in the world.
The growth in eSports over the past year alone has been tremendous, and there is no sign yet of that growth slowing. Hundreds of thousands regularly watch online eSports events, and those numbers are expected only to rapidly increase. This makes eSports sit almost in the same category as traditional sports, such as rugby and football. At least as far as interest is concerned.
It should come as no surprise then that the Asian Games organisers have officially announced an eSports event, set to debut in 2022. The news came as a shock to some, while others are calling it a ground-breaking advancement in global entertainment. Either way, the news is absolutely heaven sent for the video game industry as a whole, which is sure to see enormous gains from the global attention on digital entertainment.
The decision has already been made, and preparation is currently underway for the Asian Games to feature eSports. But, it’s still worth taking a look at the circumstances that led to eSports being included in the Asian Games; an event that up until now has been an entirely physical sport focused.
In a statement made by the OCA, Olympic Council of Asia, the reasons for including eSports were made clear. The OCA stated that they were committed to inheriting, developing and improving Asian sports, and it was apparent how enormous online eSports participation was among the Asian youth. In other words; the OCA is taking steps now to ensure that the youth will be interested in the Asian Games in years to come.
It is worth noting that games such as online baccarat, and other casino games, have also seen a massive increase in popularity.
Which eSports Will Be Included?
The next question most will be asking is which games are going to be included in the Asian Games. There is no official word yet, but it seems obvious that most commonly played eSports games in Asia will be focused on. These include sports games, strategy games, and MOBAs, otherwise known as Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.
In the sports category the most likely game to be featured is FIFA, which is a classic as far as eSports is concerned. Utilising classic one on one game play, FIFA offers fast paced, exciting game play, highly reminiscent of real football games.
The popular current strategy game is Starcraft 2, featuring far more relaxed and slow-paced game play, with a great deal more focus on premeditated strategy.
The most popular current MOBA games are Dota and League of Legends, which allow teams of players to face off in strategic, territory capturing battles.
Where To For eSports Now?
The inclusion of eSports in the Asian Games is an obvious stride forward for the industry, but just how far can eSports go before running out of steam?
Given that eSports is predicted to have 40 million fans by 2020, the question might not be as to when the industry will run out of steam, but how quickly it will start to conquer sports that are more traditional entirely, and drive them into second place.
A bit of an exaggeration, some might say, but before such claims are dismissed, it should also be kept in mind that the eSports industry is predicted to generate about $1.5 billion in revenue by 2020. When those numbers are put centre stage, it’s hard to argue with the fact that eSports events are soon going to be global giants.
Next Stop; LA Olympic Games?
With this recent development, some are already suggesting that eSports might be included in the Summer Olympics, set to be held in 2024. This is a concept that is again already dismissed, with statement being made that eSports still has a lot of ground to gain, before being an official Summer Olympics event.
It is true that eSports are still largely only popular in specific regions of the world, with the focus of popularity being in North America, Europe and Asia. But, given the growth of the industry it is perhaps not too farfetched that by 2024 eSports might be in a strong position to be a Summer Olympics event.
In a surprise statement by LA 2024, the group responsible for putting forward the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, the team declared that they were highly impressed by the League of Legends World Championships, and aimed to draw inspiration from the event if LA wins the 2024 bid. That’s not the same as saying that eSports will be a Summer Olympics event, of course, but does go a long way to show that eSports events are on the same level as Olympic events.