It was once thought that nothing could beat the thrill of spectating at a popular sports match. Whether it be football, rugby, tennis or cricket, the joyful atmosphere and tense buzz of real-life spectator sports is almost impossible to emulate with technology. Or is it?
It is thought that over 500 million people around the world are engaging with live broadcast gaming, rendering it one of the fastest-growing spectator sports worldwide.
What is the appeal?
One of the best things about live broadcast e-sports games is that they are easily accessible via YouTube and streaming platforms such as MLG.tv and Twitch. Indeed, TV stations are also hoping to get a piece of the action, with Sky and ITV having joined up with Ginx, a sport channel, to launch Ginx Esports TV in 2016. Since then, the BBC, BT Sport and TBS (to name only a few) have brought the world of e-sports to their channels to give people easy access to a thrilling spectator sport.
Like real-life sports, there is also plenty of money in the world of e-sports. Last year, the Intel Extreme Masters series, which is basically the e-sports equivalent of the football World Cup, saw 173,000 fans turn up at the Polish arena in which it took place, with around 46 million tuning in online. This provides lucrative opportunities for broadcast media organisations, technology companies and the gamers themselves. Indeed, prize money for this year’s championships was close to a breathtaking £720 million.
Finally, of course, e-sports is appealing as it is open to everyone. Real-life sport often requires its players to be naturally gifted, lean and young. Anyone can aspire to be a great e-sports player, however, as the only requirements are a decent computer, access to the internet, and time to spend honing the skills and dexterity needed to play the games.
Where the world of e-sports is heading
With e-sports having established a very strong fanbase, it is now moving into the world of smartphones. Almost everyone has access to a mobile signal on the go nowadays, providing the perfect opportunity to tune in to e-sports games.
What’s more, e-sports are also starting to merge with the world of mainstream, real-life sporting events, with certain football clubs having already set up e-sports teams to compete in the online game FIFA 18.
The field of artificial intelligence is likely to be the next frontier for e-sports companies and players, as machines may be able to fine-tune and customise the gaming experience in ways we could never have imagined a few years ago.