Esports your Business
For so long, Esports has been filed under an up-and-coming industry, enjoying a level of focus that only applies to its growth in popularity. And to this point, that has made sense.
Remember, despite going quasi-mainstream, Esports still hasn’t even been around for two decades. Every new development has, in turn, been covered as a milestone. It’s a big deal that certain tournaments are now broadcast on major networks and that professional sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, and FIFA have begun to cash in on teams and league affiliations.
The business itself, meanwhile, has become more lucrative. Top sportsbooks offer odds on tournaments and competitions. People are now drawn in to use online casino bonuses not just on traditional table games and slot machines, but also esports-inspired concepts and fantasy games. The salaries and sponsorships of professional esports players are going up. And gaming companies are earmarking nine figures annually to host new tournaments.
This list of encouraging developments can go on and on. But as esports becomes more common and less of the “new kid on the block,” there remains a question that everyone involved is still trying to answer: How does it take that next step?
What That ‘Next Step’ Looks Like
Because esports is such a decentralized industry, with so many different kinds of tournaments, leagues, and affiliations, it can be difficult to know what the next level looks like. Many don’t have a concrete idea, or they have the wrong idea entirely.
So let’s remove all the confusion and dispel the warring schools of thought right off the bat: Esports needs to be more accessible to potential fans and consumers—in other words, the audience.
Right now, this is the rare entertainment industry in which those who work within it face fewer barriers to entry. Anyone with an internet connection and gaming system can participate in esports. They can stream their own gameplay, sign up for tournaments, try out for teams, set up their own teams and pay-per-subscriber services, etc., etc., etc. The possibilities are seemingly endless.
It’s a different story for those who want to watch and follow along. Sure, in some ways, it only takes an internet connection. Anyone can follow anyone else on Twitch, and many of the biggest tournaments have open stream links and can even be watched on television networks.
But these broadcasts are limited in what they show. Many—including individual Twitch streams—aren’t showing you multiple camera angles of individual contests. You are limited only to watching the player himself or their screen. That becomes problematic for anyone who wants to see kills or action replays from a separate angle.
This brings us to another issue: Live stoppage. Many esports broadcasts don’t have the time to go through replays until the game itself has concluded. There aren’t traditional or scheduled breaks like there are at many other sporting events. That makes highlighting previous moments in real-time extremely difficult.
And that assumes a replay is even an option. Major networks will have commentators and analysts who eventually go over what you’ve just seen on screen, but when you’re streaming through Twitch or another service, it’s not an option. Some streams won’t even let you rewind gameplay from your device, and many don’t include a re-broadcast option in which you can go back through past events to rewatch them.
How Can Esports Fix This Issue?
The answer to this question is both simple and complicated: more resources.
As esports continues to increase in popularity, the additional revenue must be funneled into improving the view experience. Take, for example, tournaments that are streamed by major companies or networks. They have access to data of what esports fans want to see from a particular event, be it a specific player, team, type of game action (a kill, a score, a battle, etc.). That information should be applied to what’s being shown on camera to the audience.
On top of that, there needs to be more of an investment in the broadcast themselves.
Different camera angles need to be hooked up and then offered to the fans, so they can watch gameplay and replays unfold from various angles. There also needs to be some sort of focus on live interaction between fans and the event for those who aren’t attending in person
Maybe viewers can select their own camera angle or choose their own player to follow. Perhaps the broadcast can show more on-screen graphics—you know, stats about the current game and on past events.
None of this points to esports being doomed. It isn’t going anywhere. For all of its forward-thinking, though, it’s clear this industry remains a work in progress.