Last year, Overwatch was being tipped to launch the world of eSport into the mainstream consciousness. As events have panned out, established games such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, Dota 2 and CS:GO have remained the highest profile in the eSports world. However, the list of games that are garnering competitive leagues is increasing month by month, and so is the global audience.
A new type of leisure
It is not so long ago that the very term eSport raised sneers of derision. Yet despite the naysayers, it is now an established leisure activity for both participants and spectators the world over. Even the betting fans are getting in on the act, and numerous online sports books are offering bonuses and promotions to those who want to get into this growing sector.
So how will the eSports scene evolve over the coming months? Major networks like ESPN are already seeing eSports as a major new revenue stream that is attracting audiences from outside the conventional sports demographic. In fact, it could be the most important innovation in decades. Here are some of the games that are likely to take it to new levels of global coverage and attention.
Some are predicting this to be the most influential game since CS:GO. It adopts a “last man standing” style, in which 100 combatants are dropped on a remote island, and must battle one another to survive, using whatever weapons, skills and other objects they can find.
The game was released last year, and gained almost as much attention for the remarkable story behind its creator, Brendan Greene, as it did for the immersive gameplay itself. PUBG was featured as the main game in three eSports events last year, but expect its influence to mature over the rest of 2018. Reports of more than 200 million unique Twitch viewers tells you all you need to know about the attention it is attracting.
When it was released last year, Fortnite was a third-person player-versus-environment survival game. However, a little tweaking saw it evolve into player-versus-player action in Fortnite Battle Royale. The premise is not dissimilar to PUBG, and while it has yet to attract official sponsorship in the eSports world, it is only a matter of time given the record-breaking viewing statistics .
OK, so this one has been around since 2015, but this could be the year when its burgeoning popularity as an eSports game really comes to fruition. This game is notable for the fact that organizations like Major League Gaming seem intent on getting behind it and making it a success. They are currently working on developing a Halo World Championship Series that will draw in both gamers and fans.
When Hearthstone came out in 2014, it gained a reputation as the main driver behind the popularization digital collectible card games (CCG) as a genre. It was soon pushed into the competitive esports arena, and has high level backing with big money prize pools. As they say, money talks.
Those in the know have been talking for years about the possibility of eSports moving into other genres, and particularly into conventional sports games. NBA 2K18 is the first to make the leap. Just like the regular NBA, this is an annual franchise event centered around the NBA 2K League, which has been created by 2K Games Interactive in partnership with the National Basketball Association. The first season is already underway and is attracting plenty of media attention. Where it has started, games like John Madden and FIFA will be certain to follow.