Why has eSports gained popularity?

Through the immense popularity of video game franchises in the 21st century, competitive gaming was born. Like any other competitive sport, ’eSports’ can be played at any level, with more opportunities the higher the quality. The eSports amateur scene is played on websites such as GameBattles and UMG which hosts weekly, monthly and yearly tournaments with opportunities to earn money through playing video games. Despite being little prize pools at first, the more prestigious the competition, the higher the pay.
In 2016, FIFA eSports had 256 million viewers worldwide and the industry saw 43% year on year revenue growth. Through this success, the Professional and competitive scene for FIFA has continued to grow over the last 12 months. 36 tournaments are played throughout a season, with a $2,000,000 prize pool to be won across all of the events. Alongside the major investments, the scale of the tournaments are similar to any other professional sport. With each event being live-streamed for home viewership, thousands of people tune into these events either through social media or attending on the day.
Competitive eSports have been recognised from professional football, with many major clubs investing in their own eSports team. In 2018, the first ever eSports league was formed by Major League Soccer. The eMLS hosts 23 MLS clubs that each are represented by a FIFA player to partake in the league. The prize for the top spot in the eMLS league will grant the winner a spot in the biggest tournament; The Global Series Players, a $10,000 purse and the eMLS trophy.
With other games such as Fortnite taking the top spot for the ‘hottest’ game at the minute, more audiences are getting involved within eSports. As eSports is pushed more by the developers of modern games, the casual player is now being educated on the world of competitive gaming. Epic Games, the producers of Fortnite could have never of imagined the popularity that their Battle Royale game has received. With over 125 million active players, Fortnite has taken the gaming scene by storm, breaking all kinds of gaming records!
In acknowledgment of the potential within eSports, Epic Games are prepared to invest millions into creating a unique competitive scene. In a statement, Epic said “In the 2018 – 2019 season, Epic Games will provide $100,000,000 to fund prize pools for Fortnite competitions. We’re getting behind competitive play in a big way, but our approach will be different – we plan to be more inclusive, and focused on the joy of playing and watching the game”.
With many of the public negative and ignorant towards gaming and eSports, Epic have made a big step forward in making video games appeal to everyone with even celebrities expressing their love for the game. Football star, Dele Alli showcased a Fortnite emote, ‘The Floss’ as a goal celebration in the FA Cup Semi Final. As Epic have made a big step forward, it is now up to the other developers to take eSports and gaming one step further.
By Matthew Butterworth

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