Having grown considerably in recent years, professional-level video gaming is now quickly becoming a key part of the international sporting scene and a major industry in its own right. Born from a world of crowding around cabinets in an arcade, video games then eventually gave birth to huge competitions via the internet. Now in a new golden age, just how big has this form of gaming become, and how far will it spread its wings?
One of the best ways to understand how big a sport has become is to look at the amount of money involved. In this regard, DOTA 2 stands as the biggest illustration of just how notably eSports tournaments have grown.
According to eSports Earnings, DOTA 2 has given over $179 million in prize money in its tournaments so far. Still a growing game with consistent updates and patches, this has solidified itself as the top of the pack when it comes to team games and possible prizes.
Of the single-player games, StarCraft II finds itself as the most popular, having brought in over $30 million in prizes.
With this money has come mainstream acceptance, as first publicised by the success of StarCraft in South Korea. Offering a dedicated channel for gaming all the way back in 2000, OGN was a sign of the times to come, operating in an age when international-level competition was largely in its infancy.
Now, major tournaments such as Evolution have found their way onto channels like ESPN, with viewership solidifying its place in the years to come.
The surrounding infrastructure
It’s not just broadcast and cable television getting in on the action, as eSports competition has brought in a far wider range of formerly outside attention. Perhaps most indicative of this reach is the consideration paid by the online betting industry.
While betting was traditionally exclusive to mainstream sports like football and horse racing, top eSports titles such as Counter-Strike, DOTA 2, Overwatch, and League of Legends all now feature on major betting sites like Betway, which include a variety of gaming competitions in their betting line-ups. Offering odds on larger tournaments and individual games, this is an industry that has always had a keen eye on the pulse of public appreciation.
The biggest part of this infrastructure equation, especially when it comes to public visibility, is born from the development of major eSports stadiums. These have recently been gaining traction all over the world, such as Korea’s LoL (League of Legends) Park.
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At the time of writing, the largest of these is the Esports Stadium Arlington, located in Texas, United States. Covering 100,000 square-feet, this stadium acts as both a gaming café and as a centre for some of the largest gaming tournaments in the world.
No end in sight
As every facet of the gaming industry is still growing, it is impossible to predict just how big eSports will eventually become. With youth engagement and mass-acceptance at record levels, this new form of digital sports is worth millions.
Bringing together people from all over the world, this not only fosters healthy competition but also cooperation. It might seem absurd to think about, but video gaming is now a viable career choice for the most skilled and dedicated. At the very least, it gives many of us a sport we actually enjoy watching.