With the development of the internet, we saw the rise of the e-sports, which led us to where we are today –the e-sports industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As the popularity of e-sports continues to grow, so does the interest in how it all began. So, let’s take a trip down the memory lane to find out when and where it all started!
How it all began
What started in 1972 as a way of winning a year’s subscription to the Rolling Stone magazine is today one of the most lucrative careers in the world. The first video game competition ever to be held was organized by the students of Stamford University in a game called “Intergalactic Spacewar”- a combat game first developed in 1962.
Only a couple of years later, in 1980, the Space Invaders Championship which attracted a huge number of players, was held by Atari. This was how video games came into the light of the day and how they became a niche product.
It wasn’t until the 2000s that the e-games rose to fame. Computer cafes started opening all around the world, multi-player games became more available and computers started becoming more powerful and affordable to everyone. With the release of Xbox live in 2002, online games could be now played on consoles. And in 2004, national TV broadcasted Halo 2 for Major League Gaming.
The title of the game that started it all goes to StarCraft and its expansions. StarCraft is a military science fiction media franchise which debuted in 1998 and it has expanded to a point where it has its own licensed merchandise such as board games, toys, and collectible figures. The first official expansion to StarCraft was released in 2013 and another one is currently under development – which still makes this game one of the most popular strategy sci-fi games on the competitive gaming scene. StarCraft tournaments are held regularly every year all around the world.
We can’t talk about competitive gaming without mentioning Counter-Strike (CS) – a multi-player shooter game that was released back in 1999. It was first released as a modification of Half-Life, only to become one of the most popular shooter games with a major player community ever. It can be said that no other game comes even close to CS for the fans of the first-person shooters (FPS) community.
Leaving the best for the last which is Dota (Defense of the Ancients). Original Dota started the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre and it undoubtedly sits on the throne in the competitive gaming universe. Dota may as well be a synonym to e-sports thanks to its massive community.
The Rise in Popularity of E-Sports
Still sticking with the throne holder also known as Dota – the game that catapulted e-sports into the spotlight and where they are today. In 2009, the sequel to Dota was developed by Valve Corporation. This sequel was unremarkably named Dota 2 and it was released in 2013. What followed after this release is pretty remarkable. The Valve Corporation has been organizing The International (TI) – annual e-sports tournaments of Dota 2 ever since 2011. In 2015, on the fifth International, Dota 2 prize pool totaled more than $18 million making it the largest prize pool for a single tournament in e-sports history. This prize pool was later surpassed in 2016 and 2017 and today this game has more prize money available than any other competitive game ever. It’s no wonder why Dota 2 is the most popular game in the e-sport world.
Another game which can hold its own in the e-sports community is LoL or “League of Legends”. League of Legends is another MOBA video game inspired by Dota. After its release in 2009, it gradually rose to popularity and by 2012 this game had one of the biggest and most active competitive scenes ever. Today, League of Legends is played competitively worldwide. It organizes annual tournaments and it has the status of a professional e-sport game due to the pool prize money it makes.
It can be said that these two games instigated a trend which other started following – a pro gaming league trend. It all started with first-person shooters and strategy games, and today we even have athletic sports games such as NLB, NFL, and FIFA available to be played as e-sports games. It’s incredible how in such a short time period e-sport industry became one of the highest earning industries in the world.
Leveraging gaming merchandise and sales
Apart from sponsorships and advertisements, game developers have found another way to rev up the annual revenues – and that is with merchandise and in-game sales.
Playing a game is fun and all, but having an actual, physical piece of your favorite game is really something special. At least that’s what game developers want to make us think. With the rise in popularity of e-sports and games, selling related merchandise is a piece of cake which brings in huge amounts of money. This merchandise can be both physical and digital. Digital merchandise includes downloadable content through the game platform. On the other hand, physical merchandise includes toys, shirts, game collectibles, etc. And with new technologies, creating toys and collectible physical merchandise is easier than ever.
If we’re talking numbers, merchandise sales still take a small portion of the annual revenue. However, with the development of this industry, there is still place to grow.
E-sports are growing at an incredibly fast rate, and they show no sign of slowing down any time soon. The potential that e-sport industry holds is immense. It’s estimated that by 2022 e-sports economy would exponentially grow and it is also speculated that by 2024 e-sports could be added to the official 2024 Olympic program. So, video game fans, there is much to look forward in the upcoming years!
Did you know about the e-sports beginnings? Did you expect them to become what they are today? Are you looking forward to what’s next for the e-sports industry? Let us know!