As Stormgate’s Kickstarter concludes, what will RTS betting look like in 2024?

Published: Feb 5, 2024 - Last Updated: Feb 19, 2024

On Feb. 3, Stormgate concluded its Kickstarter, raising $2.3 million for the title. Unlike other game development crowdfunding campaigns, Stormgate already reportedly had the funds to complete and publish its title.

Instead, with their Kickstarter, Stormgate gave real-time strategy (RTS) fans and potential players a chance to get in on the ground floor with physical copies, early access to beta testing, and scaling online multiplayer testing. And, clearly, with over two million dollars raised, plenty of fans are eager to get their hands on this upcoming RTS game.

Stormgate’s upcoming release and preliminary success are part of a resurgence in the long-neglected RTS genre. A foundational part of the history of esports, the modern form of the industry was essentially built on the back of StarCraft: Brood War and grew up around Warcraft III and StarCraft 2. But mismanagement, a failure to give a nascent industry room to grow without control from game developers and governing bodies all but killed not just RTS esports, but the genre as a whole.

Beyond this, there was a (perhaps misplaced) feeling that younger, newer gamers wouldn’t want to play RTS games. Still, a dedicated fan base remained and started to build an undercurrent of support for a new generation of RTS games. 

Rumbles of this resurgence have been building for years. But with the growth in popularity of throwback Age of Empires II events like the Red Bull Wololo, the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft, and the remasters (of various quality) of Warcraft III and Brood War at the start of the 2020s, things came to a boiling point.

Now, RTS games sit on the cusp of a renaissance, heralded by the likes of Stormgate and the pro-player-driven development of its competitor, ZeroSpace. So, what will RTS betting be like in 2024?

StarCraft 2

The king of RTS and RTS gambling, StarCraft 2 has some of the biggest markets for bets. However, the market is not currently incredibly diverse. There are outrights, betting on the winner of a match or tournament. There are also sometimes limited betting opportunities for individual outcomes, such as match scores, building proxies, etc. However, outright betting remains the most common.

Stormgate and ZeroSpace

When Stormgate releases, there’s potential for growth in RTS betting. This will increase the markets and may see a change in how esports games are bet on. Beyond this, both Stormgate and ZeroSpace have the capacity for duo and team play, meaning the number of outcomes will increase

While it’s expected that outright betting (betting on the winner of entire esports tournaments) will remain the primary market, the unique wrinkles of Stormgate and Zerospace could see new types of betting emerge.

stormgate kickstarter steam
Image: Frost Giant Studios via Steam

Issues with RTS gambling

Unfortunately, like all titles, RTS is not immune to the darker sides of gambling. The genre has played host to some of the first and most high-profile scandals in esports gambling history. 

Brood War had its most significant scandal in 2010 when the Match Fixing Scandal came to light. After a post on TeamLiquid’s website by Kwanghee “Waxangel” Woo, a series of posts and investigations by Rekrul implicated 11 players, who were later permanently banned by the Korea e-Sports Association (KeSPA).

In StarCraft II, almost exactly five years later, another match-fixing scandal would lead to the arrest of Korean StarCraft pros YoDa, BBoongBBoong, Gerrard, Life, and Beyond. KeSPA was only able to prove eight matches were verifiably fixed.

Ultimately, there are risks for bad actors to take advantage of their positions in any competitive endeavor, and RTS games are no exception to this.

Other titles?

Age of Empires and its sequels have enjoyed incredible popularity, but outside of a few events, betting markets for the game have remained limited. This is both due to the interest in the game itself being limited and the slower pace of the title.

WarCraft III still enjoys a strong following, but again, outside of major events, the gambling scene is limited, both due to lack of public interest and information. RTS games are ultimately constrained somewhat by their popularity, and the market for RTS gambling will grow as the games see their resurgence in 2024 and beyond.

Try Stormgate following its successful Kickstarter

Stormgate is available to try for free on Steam during Steam Next Fest (Feb. 5 – Feb. 12). Early Stormgate Kickstarter backers will have access to the full game ahead of its release.

Image: Frost Giant Studios

Michael Hassall

Since: January 31, 2024

Michael has worked in the esports industry for five years after a brief career in marketing. A professional writer for almost a decade, and a lifelong gamer, writing about esports is his one true passion, when he’s not glued to a screen playing the games he writes about.

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