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Where Should eSports Go Next?

Over the last few years, I’ve written quite a lot about how successful eSports have become. And there’s no arguing with that – they really are becoming huge. But in many ways, the format just hasn’t changed enough. So where exactly does it go from here?

That’s not an easy answer to give. In the same way that you don’t expect football or hockey to change year by year or even decade by decade, the fundamentals of what makes an eSport interesting to watch are baked into the presentation. You need some way to watch it, and you need some way to interact with it. Maybe that’s a chat box or the ability to react to certain moments. Maybe it’s gambling. But overall, the ingredients cannot really change.

This poses an interesting alternative to regular sports. Real life games change as the people change. The rules stay the same, but the way the game is played changes completely.

And while that’s true for eSports as well, it can’t be equally true. As good as you at Overwatch, it will always just be Overwatch. You can’t run faster, you can’t shoot more accurately. Strategies change as teams adapt to their member’s weaknesses, but the game itself doesn’t.

So how can we expect eSports to evolve over the next few years?

New Platforms

Right now, those who want to get into eSports are all just about doing it the same way. They’ll play on one of the big gaming sites, they’ll probably be playing one of a handful of games. It’s not ideal. However, that is slowly changing. New platforms are launching, and offering up a host of new ideas. One of the more recent ones, FuturePlay, is offering up 3,000 games, and cryptocurrency betting. This combination of features is bound to be something new for players going forward.

New platforms breed innovation. With new ideas coming along, the bigger providers either have to adapt or lose market share. It’s a good thing to see some of the ideas coming out of these new businesses.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a hot button issue and rightly so. Technically, there’s no reason why an eSports league filled with AI couldn’t exist, but that’s a minefield, and not especially interesting. Yes, you could fill out teams with top tier players you don’t actually have to pay, but would it be surprising to learn that computers can play video games really well? Would viewers actually tune in for that?


The answer is probably yes. You know how people are.

But AI offers some less controversial innovations in the realm of eSports, and particularly within the area of training. AI can both build perfect training scenarios for players to improve with, as well as analyses previous performance to figure out the weak spots of a team. This leads to better teams and better, more exciting games.

In a development sense, there’s also anti-cheat and balance ramifications that could definitely shake things up as the tech develops.

Virtual Reality

I’ve written a lot about how virtual reality isn’t quite doing what it’s supposed to. It’s too expensive to gain entry and hasn’t changed the video game world in the way we were promised a decade ago.

But eSports is an area that could really benefit. I’m not even going to touch on players in VR, but for fans it could revolutionize things completely. Imagine chucking on a helmet and being in a crowd with thousands of others. Imagine being able to watch the game back from the perspective of one of the players – living within the skin of some of the best gamers in the world. It’s an interesting idea for how increasing tech and interest in eSports will come together in the next couple of generations.

The Changing Face of eSports – Conclusion

eSports may not evolve massively, but the way we interact with them will. The possibilities are endless, and it’s an exciting time to see how things will change.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott