We can all agree on how crazy 2015 has been for eSports. More games, more money, more audience, more recognition, spectacular announcements and acquisitions… It’s been one hell of a ride. Well, guess what: 2016 is already poised to be even crazier. Here 6 (of many) points to prove it:
1. Publishers are the rulers
The heavy move the whole eSports industry was expecting is happening: video game publishers are taking control of their IPs. Following Riot’s steps, Activision-Blizzard has been continuously taking control back from the independant organizers hands. The recent MLG is the latest, most spectacular step in this way.
Valve, known for its more hands-off strategy, is also starting to weight in the way its eSports are handled. The Dota 2 and CS:GO major circuits and qualifiers do not prevent independant organizers from running their own events with their own rule, but they cast a huge shadow over everyone else, as they attract the top teams, the largest audience and loudest hype.
2. Players and teams Unions
On the other hand, players and teams are the other major force to reckon with. The idea of a union has been rampant for years, and even tried by the main CS 1.6 at the time even tho it didn’t work. The latest attempt was a leaked requirements list CS:GO teams intended to sent to from the tournament organizers.
Despite failed projects and short-lived announcement, 2016 might be the year we see major clubs and organizations come up together with norms and ethics codes. We hope they start small and simple, to federate as much people as possible.
3. Here’s Television showing up late to the party
Ah, TV. For years, eSports has been dreaming of the days it would be featured on national networks. It never really happened (sorry, CGS) in western countries. But for the last months, we’ve seen strong signs of television finally playing catch-up with eSports. ESPN and BBC started to air eSport tournaments (on their secondary channels, tho). Turner will launch a huge CS:GO league this year. Great news, but are they still needed?
Since a few years, eSports grew up outside of the TV screen and found its own way to viewers, with streaming. Twitch and Douyu wild success changed the game, as both eSports fans and professionals understood that they didn’t need Television any longer, they just built their own media. We’re thus very curious how traditional TV moguls will bring to eSports in order to challenge streaming platforms. When the hunted becomes the hunter.
4. MOBAs are plateauing
Gone are the golden days of MOBAs? Not quite of course, as the genre remains the most popular in eSports by a large margin. But their spectacular rise seems to have to come to a stop in 2015. DotA 2 saw its numbers decrease a bit in September, even thos we can tie them to the release of the less-stable, more buggy “Reborn” client.
Last but not least, “Heroes Of The Storm” seems to struggle. Despite the heavy promotion from its publisher Blizzard, the brawler-styled MOBA doesn’t seem to eat at LoL and Dota’s cake and convert enough new players. The fact that none metrics have been released since the official launch is a strong indicator.
2016 might be the most critical year for MOBA. Will the genre fade like Starcraft, or prevail like Counter Strike?
5. FPS on the (re)rise
2016 is poised to be the biggest CS year in history, with a record number of major tournaments, more players than ever (the 10M active mark has just been reached).
The FPS genre will also rise with the much awaited Overwatch from Blizzard and new milestones from the new Unreal Tournament open Alpha.
On consoles, competitive Call Of Duty may get a boost, with a popular iteration (Black Ops III) and the new in-house World League. Halo 5 is also working hard to get its community back together and reclaim its console-FPS throne.
After years of reloading, the shooting genre is back, all guns blazing.
6. Amateur tournaments level up their game
As the top players in eSports are bringing our young industry to a new level, let’s always keep in mind that it’s strengh will always lie in the community and grass root tournaments around the world. And this is where we’ll weigh in as much as possible, bringing a solid backbone for both eSports professional and amateurs.