The esports industry is expected to be worth over $2 billion by the year 2022. That’s a pretty significant number for what was only recently considered by many to be an antisocial hobby. To get some insight on the growing world of competitive gaming, I reached out to Ready Up founder and esports icon Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel
Johnathan was the first ever full time professional gamer. From Quake III to Painkiller, he made a name for himself by winning some of the earliest publicized gaming competitions. As of 2017, the esports industry is estimated to be worth just under a billion dollars. While this may take some people by surprise, Johnathan has seen this coming for a while.
“I have been quoted saying ‘esports are the sports of the 21st century’ for over a decade now, and today it’s becoming more common that people know what they are.”
As the esports industry evolves, so too does the game industry as a whole. Battle Royale games are the current hottest genre taking the world by storm. With hundreds of thousands of daily viewers across streaming platforms, everyone is rushing to capitalize on the growing trend. The typical esports title offers balance and equal starts, but Battle Royale games often rely on a significant degree of randomness. The size and chaos of each match often makes it hard to follow as a viewer. How do you turn a 100-player battleground into a watchable production?
“Battle Royale is definitely huge. I love playing this game mode. I believe it really allows for an individual to really shine, but I feel the esports industry doesn’t know if it’s best to go solos, duos or squads. I personally like solos as it puts more pressure on the individual and allows the outcome of who wins to be very exciting when you get down to the final 10. For the viewing question, I feel we could look at how golf is broadcasted and maybe do something where you get some live coverage at times, but you might also get some replays as well so you don’t miss all the excitement that the game has to offer.”
Despite the growing popularity of esports, there are still hurdles the industry must overcome. The mainstream consumer has only just started getting a taste of professional gaming. Will esports be on par with “real” sports anytime soon?
“In due time esports needs to continue to gain a fan base and ease of access to consume it. We need to find that game that everyone understands even if they’re not a gamer.”
Gaming is quickly rising as the premiere form of entertainment for all ages. With more players comes more competition and with more eyes comes more lust for the spotlight. Major esports tournaments now often boast prize pools over $1 million. The fact that the average spectator is also a player themselves is a unique feature of the scene. Due to the immense skill gaps, there currently exists a divide between the casual gamer and the competitive one.
“Casual players and competitive players both love playing the game and play at their respective level just like any other sport. When you are at the top tier of any game, you tend to just stay with the guys who can push your game to the next level instead of playing with players who are new to the game or very casual.”
For an esports title to truly succeed in the mainstream, it needs to capture the hearts of both competitive and casual fans alike. Every new viral competitive video game has the potential to change the esports world permanently. Whether played for millions of dollars in front of screaming fans or enjoyed more casually, esports are here to stay. The desire to rise to the top permeates the game industry. A global phenomenon is upon us, marked by the crackle of digital gunfire and the cheers of a new generation.