As 2014 went down as a great year for Esport, 2015 may lead us to even higher levels of recognition, audience, sponsorship and of course, great moments : more games, more countries, consoles, women, production values… Take a look at our 9 trends for this year.
1. The consoles real awakening
If consoles represent the largest slices of the gaming industry, they’ve remain a minor force in Esport. Of course, Call of Duty, and FIFA and Destiny are selling millions and can count on a large user base. Fighting games are at home on consoles more than on PCs. There are numerous competitions, champions. But nothing as big – money wise and audience wise – as PC Esports disciplines. Why do consoles trails so far behind ?
Reasons range from technical and financial hurdles to regularly update games, no Free 2 Play major titles or limited streaming options. Things may change with this generation of consoles, as Microsoft and Sony have finally understood the huge benefits of long term, ever evolving, strong community backed games.
Of course PS4 and XBox One boasts direct stream to Twitch. But the most important feature may lie in the new publishing deals, allowing developers to update and enrich their game without having to pay each time and thus, having one major update once in a year – think Street Fighter IV, here.
Consoles needs to play catch up with PC, but they’ve finally understood and may hold the real explosion for Esport in the next years. They already had the great games, they just need to become just as great as platforms.
2. Less financial turmoils
Most of the dramas occurring on the Esport scene are about players being out of a team and money. As more and more dollars are pouring into Esport through growing money prizes, contracts and sponsorship, the Esport scene still looks like a far west movie. Unpaid cashprizes, team going down because of one sponsor’s off the deal, managers running away with the money they’re supposed to collect for their players, the lack of proper contracts…
One of Esport main effort this year should be about legal and financial supporting document, made available to anyone – with some wiki for basic knowledge and customisation of those documents.
3. Emerging countries
Right now, Esport is a global phenomenon with a few leading territories : North America, Europe, CIS, China and Korea. Some countries may nonetheless rise this year. We’ve kept an eye on the Japanese scene, which has always been notorious for its talented players, especially on the fighting games scene. The PC scene, yet minor, is growing with the first DOTA 2 and League Of Legends professional teams.
Japan’s status on Esport is tightly linked to consoles status on Esport, as gaming PC is very rare there. We expect Japan to grow steadily over the next years. Large countries such as India are also showing strong commitment signs, with more and more tournaments and players. Esport needs to evolve beyond the classic US-EU-SEA triumvirat to become a real global phenomenon.
4. Crowdfunding for everyone
Valve blew people’s minds and wallets with the The International 3. The way people could fun the cashprize and get away with great content proved to be a huge hit. Last year International gathered close to $11M (Valve started with $1.6M), paving the way to a new generation of community backed tournament. So far, most have been a success. Most are DOTA 2, but Hirez Studios Smite World Championship went over the $2.5M mark. There may be some failure and excesses along the way, but this business model is headed to a bright future.
We’re working hard on Toornament to bring this crowdfunding mechanics to all our users.
5. FGC joins the family
Esports and Fighting Game Community had a long love / hate relationship. Long (and numerous) stories short, the FGC never felt like it belonged or wanted to belong with the PC Esport scene and business model and thus, developed a strong community sense that both held it together and closed it to the other communities.
Last months have shown encouraging signs, with the best fighters being drafted in major Esport teams, streaming and so on. With Capcom’s Street Fighter V poised for the end of this year or 2016 on both PS4 and PC, the shift everyone was hoping for may be finally happening.
Fighting games are amongst the most spectacular, skill demanding and audience understandable Esport discipline and they deserve to be top tier disciplines.
6. More new games and mid-sized communities
As the video game industry and culture have spawn numerous great games, Esport should reflect this depth. We all know that you can’t fully dedicate yourself to many Esports disciplines, but maybe give a try to other games, along with your main. LoL, CS and Hearthstone may reign supreme, but other deserves attention and involvement.
The case for more games also lead to more opportunities for developers and modders to try new things and keep Esport disciplines pool fresh and new.
7. Female champions
Ah, the neverending topic. Women and Esports is a heated debate, as everyone thought Esport would erase the physical differences between men and women. For others reasons, Esport progamers are huge majority of guys. Why the lack of girls ? We won’t try to answer on this post. But 2015 may see the rise of women champions in a non female dedicated tournament. Scarlett has paved the way and progamers like MagicAmy won big Hearthstone tournament recently.
It’s a matter of time and dedication and finding the right talent at the right game, but a woman winning a major tournament – and remain in the top tier players for some time could be a huge boost and eye opener for Esport enthusiasts and neophytes alike.
8. Generalist / sports sponsors
Something we love about the LCS : Coca Cola and American Express as premium sponsors. Esport needs here to put emphasis on the “sport”, more than on the “e”. Every gaming company is now onboard with Esport but our culture needs to grow wider. It’s more than gaming, it thus should attract more than gaming sponsors. Generalist sponsors would mean higher credibility, new audience, more money. Time to mail Nike, Starbucks and L’Oreal.
9. Production Value
It’s been one of the buzzwords lately, even tho few really get it. “Production values” means everything tournament organizers put to make a good show on site and online. More cameras, more casters, inbetween matches content, analysis, nice main stages, stream overlays etc.
As tournaments production value is going up as the time and iteration goes by, it shall be noted that the tournament itself isn’t enough nowadays. In 2015, Esport enthusiasts expect more. More entertainment, more content, more show. Production value, they call it.
And – surprise – this is where we kick in. We’re hard working at Toornament to empower with all the most critical tools to run perfect and spectacular tournaments !