If you are someone who takes a broader view of the esports industry and the computer gaming industry as a whole, it is perhaps surprising that out of the hundreds of games released each year across the wide variety of consoles, mobile devices and computers available to play, it is a select few that hold sway when it comes to esports.
Currently at the top of the tree are team-based games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter Strike Global Offensive. This trio attracts the vast majority of esports gaming interest. But there are a number of other esports games that attract plenty of players and viewers.
These include the likes of StarCraft II, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Smash. Teams of players and also individuals compete in these games at the highest levels. Then, there’s Overwatch, Call of Duty, FIFA Soccer, and Rocket League. It is also worth noting that there are big plans to incorporate other titles as the format for other big esports events, such as the forthcoming NBA Esports Basketball league (based on the NBA 2K game from EA Sports).
However, such is the nature of esports and its ties to the gaming industry that there is nothing to stop any number of new games coming to the fore as esports favorites. Then, the question for today is, what’s the next big thing?
Is Fortnite the top contender?
If one new game has gripped the multi-player gaming community more than any other it’s Fortnite. One driver of its success is that the multi-player Battle Royale mode is free online, whereas the story mode is an optional extra that players can buy.
Currently, Fortnite is the top dog in the Battle Royale world. These games are playable as an individual against up to 99 other players or in teams of two or four.
Its simplistic gameplay has proven a huge hit with gamers across the world. In terms of YouTube audience, Fortnite is already now more popular than Minecraft. In fact, it racked up 2.4 billion views on YouTube in February.
Fortnite’s massive popularity has not gone unnoticed outside the esports industry. Ohio’s Ashland University will become the first in the United States to offer player scholarships for Fortnite. Prove your quality as a Fortnite star and you could be the beneficiary for a $4,000 scholarship to become an e-student athlete at the university.
Now, there are still many within the industry who question whether Fortnite has the longevity and variability in its gameplay to become an esports mainstay. But there have already been several big-money tournaments for the game, including a $50,000 event last week at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.
In addition, a number of the biggest esports organizations in the world have started to snap up their own Fortnite talent — FaZe Clan and Team SoloMid.
Will fighting games finally punch at their weight?
It may seem strange to suggest a genre that saw a $600,000 tournament contested just recently needs to make an impact on the esports scene. But when it comes to one-on-one fighting games such as Streetfighter V and TEKKEN 7 that is exactly the case.
These game have not enjoyed much support from sponsors and circuits. As a result, they have relied upon support from within the fighting game community and from the game developers.
TEKKEN 7 is expected to announce a new event for 2018 that will compete with the $600,000 Street Fighter tournament from 2017. Add to that the popularity of other combat games, such as Mortal Kombat and a huge support for these games with console and PC gamers, and you have the key ingredients for another genre to break into the upper echelons of esports.
One thing is sure: the esports industry is continuing to grow in more ways than simply people interested in gaming. There is no limit on the number or types of games that will comprise esports of the future. My money would be on the esports landscape looking very different in a few years. That’s the way of this world.
Editorial Credit: Epic Games