The eSports boom of the 2020s has many implications for the world of competitive gaming, some of which are obvious, others less so. For example, the industry has grown to exceed a valuation of $1 billion globally and is showing no signs of slowing, which points to a number of outcomes. Those are that there will be greater investment in eSports events going forward, that there will be the emergence of new teams, and a host of new brands and organizations will seek to associate themselves with the sector in the coming years.
What is perhaps less clear, at least to those too attached to what the current eSports community looks like in 2022, with its ongoing emphasis on PC-centric MOBAs and FPS’, is that as the sector attracts more spectators, people are going to want to see games and experiences they can relate to personally.
While it may come as a surprise to some, $1000+ gaming PCs and laptops aren’t all that popular with the general public. What is, of course, are game consoles and smartphones. Both of these segments have thus far been content to play second fiddle to eSports’ mega-events, its League of Legends World Championships and CS: GO’s PGL Majors, but that is already showing signs of changing.
A Changing Picture
Mobile title Free Fire nabbed the highest peak viewer numbers of any eSports event in history when it’s 2021 World Series finals in Singapore drew in 5.4 million spectators, and Arena of Valor – everyone’s favorite mobile MOBA, handed out a prize pool worth $8 million for its 2022 World Cup event. While that may have some way to go to match the payouts we’ve come to expect from The International, it sends a strong message that there is serious interest in ‘alternative’ eSports platforms.
Console is King
While the world of mobile eSports continues to develop in tandem with PC titles, the console sector represents a potentially existential threat to the eSports old guard. With the 9th console generation truly underway, few owners of an Xbox Series X|S or PS5 find themselves wishing after the performance boosts available through investing in custom gaming rigs.
What’s more, both Sony and Microsoft are doing their utmost to ride the wave of interest in eSports to demonstrate the competitive merits of their platforms. It is for this reason that the Halo World Championship is proving a real draw for leading cross-platform teams and why we’re increasingly seeing leading bookmakers seek to cover esports events that appeal to mainstream audiences.
SBO.net, a leading comparison platform that collates a veritable who’s who of safe betting sites, is one such example that operates in diverse markets across the world. In fact, if SBO.net’s coverage of reputable providers from over 50 countries across the globe, each of which offers up competitive welcome bonuses and other deals to new sign-ups through its directory, can be considered an illustrative measurement of just how much interest there is in wagering on console eSports today, we may reasonably conclude we’ve already passed the watershed for their relevance overtaking PC events.
Leading Console eSports
So what are the biggest console eSports today? With respect to the Xbox, the aforementioned Halo World Championship is, at present, the platform’s jewel in the crown, but it’s not alone. The Forza Motorsport series, which is expecting a major reboot come the spring, has served as a vibrant addition to the platform’s competitive profile, as has the Gears of War franchise which has been cultivating its own eSports circuit since 2015.
Perhaps the biggest news for Microsoft’s eSports hopes comes in the form of their pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the publisher behind the blockbuster Call of Duty series. This game’s headline eSports event, the CoD League, has been on PC since 2020, but it’s unlikely that Microsoft won’t seek to leverage the star power of the world’s most popular FPS when it comes to making a case for its console’s eSports credentials in the coming years.
This is not to say that the PlayStation 5 is out of contention, however. Home to Gran Turismo 7, and presently the official platform for NBA 2K and EA Sports tournaments, Sony has made great strides in capturing the sports-sim segment of the eSports market, with even the PC unable to provide a meaningful answer to counter its roster.