Biggest eSports Developments in 2019
The world of gaming is at something of a crossroads. The increasing gaming intelligence of players worldwide has led developers to offer new, complex options, satisfying the constant need for more content. However, with new gaming options come new responsibilities, which can in some cases be somewhat restrictive. For instance, Gaming Instinct recently reported on how EA was forced to remove its FIFA Points “loot box” from its FIFA Ultimate Teammode. This was after the Belgian Gaming Commission deemed loot boxes as a form of gambling, and speaks to the greater level of responsibility being imposed upon gaming companies even as the very nature of gaming expands.
It’s perhaps because of this increasingly complex landscape, however, that the unbound growth of eSports is proving to be so exciting. While some other aspects of the gaming world are coming under stricter scrutiny from authorities, the opposite seems to be true where eSports are concerned. In this world, things only seem to be getting bigger and better.
New Betting Options
While previously limited to just a handful of states, legal sports betting in the U.S. has recently been spreading like a controlled fire across the country. This development has been credited to a 2018 Supreme Court ruling which essentially favored the legalization of sports betting practices. The ruling was specifically directed toward the state of New Jersey, but since then, many other U.S. states have considered legalizing various forms of betting – on horse races, football, basketball, and, yes, even eSports. This actually isn’t as new an idea as it might sound like. The bigger games in the eSports world (think League Of Legends) have supported betting activity for years. Still, with eSports betting on the rise in a new market as massive as the U.S., we’re bound to see more and more activity of this sort. We probably can’t even imagine yet what a full range of eSports betting opportunities might look like.
A Billion-Dollar Industry
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (disgraced though he may be by recent scandals) recently spent $20 million on a major stake in the Boston team for Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League. NBA legend Michael Jordan has also bought into eSports, becoming a part owner of the popular squad Team Liquid. Another eSports team, Cloud 9, recently raised $50 million in Series B funding, with professional estimates pegging the team’s valuation at $310 million. CNBC recounted how this all happened in 2018, arguably the biggest year yet for eSports development. But experts are saying that 2019 could be even bigger, with many declaring that it could be the year when the eSports industry hits the billion-dollar mark. Only time will tell if this is an accurate estimation of this industry’s growth, but as far as the public funding data lets on, it does seem highly possible.
The New Elite Athletes
Following the massive inflow of investments and the ongoing popularity of titles like Overwatch League and Fortnite (which has only recently been accepted in the world of eSports), today’s eSports players are set to become a new class of elite athletes. Some, of course, will debate the use of that term – “athlete” – to define competitive gamers. But really, the specific terminology doesn’t matter. The fact is that with the meteoric rise of eSports, its leading performers are becoming more and more visible, and gaining more and more fans. As eSports competitions comes closer to regularly matching the attention and spectatorship of major sporting events, it stands to reason that the gamers themselves will start to be looked at in much the same way people have long regarded their favorite sports stars.
Given all of these developments, it’s easy to see why experts are predicting pretty much every conceivable type of growth for the world of eSports this year.