Once thought of as a fad that would hit a spike of popularity and then slowly die away, eSports has become an unstoppable force in the gaming industry, one that has become a deciding factor for how companies, especially developers and publishers, outline their business strategies. While this originally focused on the PC world, consoles now have an established foothold in eSports, and we can only speculate as to all of the ways that competitive gaming will shape and remold the console game industry.
The past of competitive console play
Consoles don’t have a particularly long history of high-level competitions. Early systems like the Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and even the first two to three editions of the PlayStation weren’t designed with competitive gaming in mind. Even as online console gaming gained popularity and players were able to connect with other players, competitions were still almost solely based around the PC and its games, one of the key reasons consoles were late to the eSports phenomenon.
Grinding against the PC
PC’s for many years had a massive advantage against consoles when it came to Internet connectivity and how it affected multiplayer gaming. The entire computer industry, combined with internet service providers, were investing billions of dollars to help computers talk to the web, so all PC game developers had to do was create games that took advantage of the new technology that would be constantly improved year after year, versus consoles that would need to wait years in-between new hardware releases in order for both developers and gamers to enjoy the upgrades.
Plus, it didn’t help consoles that the vast majority of games were designed for the solo player experience, with a smaller focus on multiplayer. For PC, the opposite was true, with some games like the original Counter Strike able to survive for years on a simple multiplayer format that shaped the way for the earliest form of esports.
The developer’s perspective
In today’s marketplace, game developers creating multiplayer games are almost forced to incorporate at least the potential concept of bringing eSports into the game they are working on, because ultimately it will be the players and the eSports industry itself that will determine if a new multiplayer game gains any competitive traction.
But developers are willing to take the gamble as it turns out, since eSports has managed to greatly extend the lifespans of games that traditionally would have burned out a few years ago, replaced by a new, better competitor or sequel. So where before you may have had a single year to get nearly all of your sales, you can now continue to push and market the game for months if not years past the typical life expectancy as it is exposed to new players via eSports viewership.
And how about eSports betting? Anything that can be wagered on will be wagered on, and that adds a whole other level to pushing designers to make games that appeal to the eSports market. For a better understanding on eSports betting, you can check out our friends at Planet 7 Casino, who have done a full work up on the future of gambling on sports.
How this will affect console game development in the end will depend heavily on if the eSports trend continues to rise and reach new benchmarks, which it appears to be doing. If this happens, we can expect to see a greater shift in console game development towards titles that appeal to a home audience with features that make it spectator worthy. It will likely be the only way consoles can compete with PCs in the eSports industry.