Tech Trends: 3 Important Milestones in Esports History

Tech Trends is a new series from Murphy Research where we will cover some of the latest trends across a number of platforms – gaming, social media, digital entertainment, and online media. Our inaugural blogpost is written by a Murphy researcher and gaming enthusiast, Brandon Barberio.

Beginning with the arcade game Pong in the 1970s, video games have always been a competition. Since then, not only have the battles heated up, but graphics have improved tremendously (seriously, Google what the newest Call of Duty game looks like), and controls and mechanics have become more complex. Competitive gaming has taken off with the rise of the internet as you no longer have to be in the same room to play video games against friends (or foes) from all over the globe.


Milestone #1: Faster internet

Esports began at large gatherings of gamers called LAN parties (local area network, look it up Noob!). Due to the necessity of having to physically travel to these events, the pool of gamers was limited to motivated, dedicated, and most importantly local players. While the competition was fierce at LANs, when internet speeds became fast enough to effectively host and play online, the realm of eSports officially became a worldwide free-for-all. Gamers from every continent played one another, teamed up, shared strategies, and inevitably the best teams rose to the top and began to compete.


Milestone #2: Sponsors offer big money

As eSports began to take off and gain a large following, sponsors and advertisers poured money into the gaming phenomenon. Alongside supportive fans, sponsors helped raise large cash prizes for tournaments around the world. The two most popular genres of games that are played at the professional level are MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), such as DOTA 2 and League of Legends, and FPS (First-Person Shooters), such as Counter Strike, Call of Duty, and Halo.


Milestone #3: eSports goes mainstream

Recently, eSports has grown to a new level of recognition, with events such as the Halo 5 World Championship Tour: X Games Aspen Invitational being broadcast on ESPN. The previous year's finals were watched on Twitch, a gaming network, by 3 times as many viewers as the Super Bowl. The DOTA 2 annual World Championships are hosted in Seattle, Washington and boasted a prize pool of $18.4 million in 2015. The League of Legends World Championship prize pool was $100,000 in 2011 and increased over the years to $1.4 million in 2015 with 3 million people streaming the game on Twitch, a video game streaming network. That's more online streamers than the Superbowl! With the release of Halo 5 in November of 2015, the 2016 Halo World Championship Series was announced to bring Halo back into the professional gaming spotlight. The prize pool started at $1 million and has since been crowdfunded to over $2 million, a number which will likely increase before the finals this March.


Although the competition is tough, it is possible to break onto the eSports scene with a team of incredible players. If you think that you and your buddies can cut it, find the league for your game of choice and sign up. However, I would suggest that you check out the pros on YouTube or Twitch to see what you'll be up against, and practice, practice, practice.

So back when your parents or significant other told you that video games were a waste of time and would never get you anywhere; they were obviously wrong.