What Makes a Good eSports Game?

    With the eSports economy looking likely to exceed a billion dollars for the first time in 2019, an increasing number of publishers and developers are looking to gain a piece of the pie. From MOBA to FPS, strategy and battlegrounds, a wide variety of genres have now reached the mainstream.

    So what is it that makes the difference between success and failure? How is it that some games succeed on the eSports scene while others flounder? We take a look.

    Engagement Among the Public

    The most obvious answer to this question comes from public game interaction. Video gaming is fundamentally different from the likes of Formula 1 or even football in that the barrier to entry is always non-existent; practically anyone can play to their heart’s content.

    As people feel more familiar with the game on a personal level, they grow to appreciate it more from a viewership perspective. This leads to a more in-depth understanding of the strategies involved. Big wins are better celebrated, and big losses more thoroughly investigated and related to our own experiences.

    This is aided not just by direct viewing of the games themselves, but also from guiding and companion websites offering eSports news. These publications keep players informed of the big competitions and changes, similar to how ESPN does for traditional sports. In this case, however, notifications of patch notes and change in the meta can apply to our personal experience of playing a game – not just the pros.

    High Stakes

    The more money is on the line, the more pressure there is to win. Prize pools for eSports often come from the capital which tournaments can generate, but this is not always the case. Developers and publishers interested in keeping their games hot can act as the backers for these prizes. Take esports betting, it’s big business.

    DOTA2, for example, has offered over $180 million in tournament prizes so far according to official figures, much of which comes from Valve’s own support of The International yearly tournament.

    The more money on the line, the more effort players and teams will put in – making spectating all the more exciting. It can also encourage viewers to watch all the more closely, as becoming a pro player is something perceived as far more feasible in eSports than in many more physical sports. You can’t learn to be taller, for example, but you can learn to counter an early mid-push.

    Outside Appreciation and Understanding

    As Newzoo reports, around 42% of eSports viewers don’t even play the game they watch. They are in the minority, sure, but this is certainly not an insignificant proportion.

    This type of viewer must, in this case, more directly derive their understanding and enjoyment from viewing others play the game and the commentators relay information. In turn, this lends itself to a more approachable, understandable, and more visually appealing style of game.

    Overwatch is a great example of this. Using Blizzard’s focus on clean but striking design and simple-to-learn gameplay, Blizzard makes watching Overwatch a visual treat for everyone – player or not.

    While there are, of course, times like Ev.o Moment 37, which are only possible through an understanding of more esoteric systems, newer eSports games have a much broader appeal.

    As eSports continue to grow, expect all aspects of their popularity to progress in the coming years. With dedicated channels and bigger tournaments than ever, there has never been a better time to get in on the action, either as a player or a fan.


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