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eSports Starting To Go Mainstream 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-enough-for-annoying-ads dept.
An anonymous reader writes: eSports have never been more popular, and many large companies are starting to view them in the same light as traditional sports. The amount of money being thrown around is beginning to rival the money exchanged over sports teams. A recent Dota 2 tournament handed out over $10 million in prizes, and Google's $1 billion purchase of game-streaming site Twitch.tv has now been confirmed. But it doesn't end there — companies like Coca-cola, Intel, Nissan, and major movie studios are looking at the audiences being drawn by eSports and realizing the advertising potential. "Last fall, Riot Games sold out the Staples Center for its League of Legends Championship Series Finals. While 12,000 people watched live in the home of the Lakers and Kings, over 32 million tuned in to the livestream." George Woo, head of a global eSports tournament, said, "Attendance to Intel Extreme Masters events has grown 10X with us filling up sport stadiums, where we have visitors lining up to get a seat to watch the competition. Online it has grown 100X, where we now get more viewers watching livestreams for a single event than we'd have tune in for an entire season in the past."
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eSports Starting To Go Mainstream

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  • People have been saying this for years. While it'd be interesting to see it actually happen, I'm not holding my breath.
    • While it's not to the point where every major city has a "team" of dota pro's... The International 2014 was shown on ESPN3, that's progress....
      • Wake me up when it gets more air time than the pro bass fishing tournaments or water ski competitions.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          According to the representative from CBSi at the e-sport conference at Valencia 2011 e-sport already generated more viewer-minutes each month than superbowl does its entire season. The problem is that it is distributed on so many streamed channels that it is hard to capitalize on.

          • by eobanb (823187)

            than superbowl does its entire season

            The Super Bowl lasts an entire season now?

            • Well, what do you wan't? These are nerds were dealing with. Just don't aski him what sport the super bowl is played in, or how many downs there are in an inning.
          • Yeah, I kind of doubt its going to be easy to capitalize on any kind of gaming tv, because of the existing streams .. unless the competitions start charging for broadcasting rights. In which case they'll be the inevitable backlash from the comuniity. Viewership will go from worldwide without restrictions, to nation based, depending on rights distributions.
      • Apparently the finals were shown live on ESPN2 as well

    • The real issue with Video Game sports is the fact for the time for the people to get the 10,000 hours of practice to be a real master at it will take at least a couple of years. At the point where people are ready for it to be a sport, the game is already kinda old, and the new kids who are coming in are training on new games.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        That's part of the challenge and appeal.

        Some of the old games like Starcraft are still honored at sporting platforms, because those are the games where you can see the "old masters" play their refined strategies against each other, as is expected in a game of chess. In newer games, the strategy isn't a refined battle plan, but a more volatile response to counter the opponent's particular style, more akin to a boxing match.

        • But how long will PCs continue to be able to run the Starcraft binaries usably? And how long will Actiblizzard continue to authorize streams of Starcraft play rather than just DMCAing them for infringement of the copyright in Starcraft?
          • But how long will PCs continue to be able to run the Starcraft binaries usably?

            Pretty much forever. We can always create some kind of setups which are able to run the game successfully. Then we have Starcraft 2 of course...

            And how long will Actiblizzard continue to authorize streams of Starcraft play rather than just DMCAing them for infringement of the copyright in Starcraft?

            I have no idea why they would do it. The Starcraft tournaments bring enormous value to their ecosystem.

            • Actiblizzard [has the option of] DMCAing them for infringement of the copyright in Starcraft

              I have no idea why they would do it.

              For the same reason as the Let's Play takedowns. Sega DMCA'd videos containing footage [techdirt.com] of the Shining Force games (but later issued a non-apology [techdirt.com]). Some publishers, such as Nintendo, might instead choose to put a Content ID* claim on videos containing "images or audio of a certain length" (such as a game's title screen or cut scenes), diverting ad revenue away from partners.*

              * YouTube terminology used. Feel free to substitute.

      • http://www.esportsearnings.com... [esportsearnings.com]

        It's not nearly as big an issue as you'd assume

      • by ADRA (37398)

        DOTA in one form or another has been around since Warcraft III. League of Legends is close enough to DOTA that most pro's can swap between the two if they ever chose to. Strarcraft and its predecessors have been around since Starcraft 1, and most knowledge carries over. These people are used to rule changes, as generally every new game patch has the potential to introduce radically different play styles to succeed. Counterstrike and games like it haven't evolved significantly in style since the beginning of

        • The skillsets required to master each game is quite different. Dota has a lot more strategic thinking, while League relies on twitch mechanics. Sure, a pro will be good at the other game, but not good enough to play both at a professional level.
        • by Guspaz (556486)

          Or back into the 90s with Starcraft if you consider that DOTA was a port (albeit one with a significant increase in complexity) of Aeon of Strife.

      • There's enough overlap from one game to another that it doesn't take a fresh 10,000 hours to master the next game that comes along. A surprising amount of the pro level skill is in fact mechanics (as in physically moving quickly and accurately enough to play the game at high level). There are several SC2 professionals that started their careers playing twitch FPS games for example. Within a genre... well there's not that much difference between SC2 and Command and Conquer, let alone Brood War and SC2.

        Ano

      • The real issue with Video Game sports is the fact for the time for the people to get the 10,000 hours of practice to be a real master at it will take at least a couple of years. At the point where people are ready for it to be a sport, the game is already kinda old, and the new kids who are coming in are training on new games.

        Historically, this is accurate. However, the effective life of a given game seems to be increasing. It used to be that as technology advanced, it enabled entirely new systems of interaction. Lately, the advancements of technology seem to result in better looking games, and enabling games on more platforms, but the mechanics of the games themselves are largely remaining the same.

        The moba scene is a good example of this. LoL and Dota2 are really more sets of rules than they are technology. It's about how lo

    • http://i.imgur.com/oE3jel6.png

      Now you've seen it.

    • I think this will happen once Linux is ready for the Desktop.
    • by Ranbot (2648297)

      I wonder what Tony Hawk would think of the viability of eSports?

    • by gangien (151940)

      We're a hell of a lot of closer now, than we were. There are people playing for literally millions now. A far cry from the days of fatal1ty.

  • Consume! (Score:2, Troll)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) *

    ...and many large companies are starting to view them in the same light as traditional sports...

    Just another consumer product, of course "large companies" are looking the fleece money off of Americans with disposable income...

    We are a "consumer society", as other societies seek to better their lot through education and economic advancement, we Americans consume.

  • by ADRA (37398)

    I got really into watching DOTA 2. I first started watching games to learn how to play it better. The game has a pretty big learning curve, so being able to watch how people played helped me learn the basics. Once that was over, I found that there are actually a lot of interesting casters who do daily live plays which are *shocked* actually entertaining in themselves. I don't necessarily spend every moment glued to the screen like I would during major tourney's, but a nice semi-background activity to spend

  • If people classify chess as a sport, so should these things, no? But then again, When will we see simultaneous exhibitions with esports where one guy fights against 30-50 people and win?
    • If people classify chess as a sport, so should these things, no?

      No. The difference is that Chess is more than 95 years old. Anyone can sell Chess equipment and stream Chess matches without permission from FIDE or any other governing body. With games like StarCraft, on the other hand, all leagues operate at the pleasure of Actiblizzard. If Actiblizzard doesn't like a league, then under current law, it can shut down the league's streams with a copyright claim.

  • "Sports" consists of:

    4 hours of "This team is totally gonna sports all over this team, because of the sportsing. These 12 players will totally sports all over the sports because of sports."
    followed by a 1 hour game that takes 4 hours
    followed by a 4 hours of "That team totally sportsed all over the other team because of sportsing, but these 3 players were particularly sportsy because of sportsing.

    eSports consists of deterministic matches, usually between 2 players. There is just not enough bullshit
    • The (current, at any rate) lack of geographic identification probably hurts emotional engagement a bit. The more successful team sports have a nearly magical ability to grab the audience in some primitive part of their little hominid brain that used to handle inter-tribal combat and allow them to experience, by proxy, the emotional indulgence of victory or defeat against the away tribe. It's really pretty weird. Especially weird is how easily the affect of the game bleeds over into other things, like the tr
    • by GuB-42 (2483988)

      Sports fandom feeds off of the non-deterministic nature of the games that are played, sure there are winners and losers, but there is very little room in eSports to blame Referees, because in the game world it would be called "Exploits" and would be considered verifiable cheating.

      Pro gamers use exploits all the time, and these are usually allowed it they don't break the game too much and use only standard manipulations. Some of these exploits became a core mechanic in these games. A classic example is the strafe-jump in Quake, a bug which allowed the player to exceed the maximum running speed by making a series of diagonal jumps. This bug was voluntarily reproduced in the next Quake games because it made gameplay more interesting.

      And sure, you have no referees but bugs and hardware

  • It's about time!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:45AM (#47532377)

    eSports have been my long-time favorite way to spectate gaming (or demonstrate skill to an audience). I've never been much of a fan of watching real-life sports -- some have been pretty interesting, especially if they don't have downtime (like soccer, rugby, etc) -- but at the end of the day, the fact that I don't participate in these sports has left me with less interest.

    Competitive Gaming on the other hand, has been a staple in my life since Doom II. I will never forget how Quake 1 had great multiplayer mods with capture the flag, etc, and that you could go into a spectator mode. At that point, I was very excited to see how other players would react and strategize in situations I myself would encounter.

    Fast forward over a decade and we've got competitive counter strike, battlefield 2, etc, rolling along and the shoutcasts started. These were always very niche, but they were far more frequent than the extremely rare CPL video streams and the poor attempts by big media companies to create an eSport event on television. Back then (about 10 years ago), those big media events usually had too many shots of the crowds and of the gamers themselves, and not enough attention to the gameplay. For me, the best shoutcasts were direct video streams from observer mode and first person mode, with announcers discussing the game as it unfolds.

    Anyway... In the last several years, there have been Twitch streams and much larger scaled video game streams or recordings on youtube that are really starting to please my tastes. It's good to see that gaming, a very popular medium for competition and pleasure, is gaining mainstream attention. This is also a great sign that our generation is finally starting to matter.

    • As far as I'm concerned the only thing as stupid as regular sports, are eSports. I will never understand either one, but eSports are perhaps more irritating to me personally since I like video games just fine, but the bastardization that occurred in turning them in to an eSport seems always to have entirely removed every ounce of fun from the game, in favor of the min/max activities required to compete.

      DOOM was fun, then I beat it, played it a few more times just for giggles, then never played it again. It

      • In other words dicking around is okay, so long as one doesn't drop the pretentious nonchalant act. Otherwise the girls at school will see how much fun you have and the jocks will tease you for it. Anything but that.

      • You just don't understand the competition. The competition in gaming is not at all the same as the regular 'public' play. Competitive gaming is about developing and resonating on new advantages that other teams do not have and then applying them in carefully orchestrated strategies. You're right that it's not fun for you because your expectation of the game is similar to how the game was advertised. The people having fun with competitive gaming are reaping the rewards of hard work and the feeling of s

    • I disagree. (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There is so much more with physical sports than with eSports, video games or whatever you want to call them.

      With a physical sport not only are you building hand eye coordination in real life*, but you are developing physical abilities and social skills/social interaction. IM'ing with someone isn't the same.

      *I've seen some of those videos of someone throwing a knife that bounces off a building, ricochets off a bird or something and then lands in some guy's eye. What physics are these games using?

      I grew up on

      • by locopuyo (1433631) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:35PM (#47534429) Homepage
        Cool story grandpa. You played some shitty game with shitty physics so all games must have bad physics. You used IM instead of voice and video chat so the only form of online communication must be through text. You played some shitty game at a low level so hand eye coordination and reflexes don't matter in any game. You didn't make any friends playing online that you keep in contact with and meet in real life so no one must be able to.

        Your failure isn't stopping it from becoming the norm.
      • At the high level of competition, you'd be surprised at the skills being developed. We don't use IM, we use radio comms similar to when I was in the military. PTT. We also have programs that model the maps (3rd party software) and allow us to draw and place icons and such so as to communicate out a strategy for everyone to work out and understand. It's like a chalkboard, but far better.

        At the end of the day, you guys naysaying eSports simply lack the experience to know what you're talking about. So fa

  • Why? Newborns have brand-awareness. What a waste of cash.

  • by doctor woot (2779597) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:09PM (#47532583)

    Video games are better to spectate than sports. Broadcasters have known this for decades, doing what they could to compensate. Gimmicks won't stall change forever though, sooner than later they'll have to face this fact. The real interesting stuff will be the cultural shift when video games start to challenge the popularity of athletic sports.

    • Video games are better to spectate than sports.

      That's not true as a generalized statement. The games that are being played now by professionals in front of an audience, like LoL, DOTA2, SC2 and CS:GO are actually designed around being good for spectators. There's a whole lot more in the gaming sector that doesn't work for spectators.

      • . The games that are being played now by professionals in front of an audience, like LoL, DOTA2, SC2 and CS:GO are actually designed around being good for spectators.

        I don't know what any of these games are

        • The AC is right about what they are, although the point is that they're specifically designed with spectators in mind. That's not true for most games, and as a result there's a huge number of games that aren't good spectating material. These games (and others in some of their genres), btw, along with fighters, make up a substantial majority of games that are watched. People don't watch Mass Effect, or The Wolf Among Us, or the Batman Arkham games - it's very specific genres that even work for spectators, an
          • i would totally watch a competitive street fighter or mario kart tournament. but only if they flipped back and forth between what's on the screen and video of the players.
        • On the flip side, do you know the rules to rugby? Lacross? Cricket?

          If I were to say the fencer on the left had a beautiful Pris-de-fare, but the fencer on the right's remise landed first, do you know who got the touch?

          Because there are things out there which people enjoy, which you might not be aware of.
          Hey, if you like to know which hollywood celebrity is sleeping with who, or what caliber the Austrian special forces use, that's fine.

          And some people like reaver drops and forge-first-expansions.

      • It's a consequence of being computer generated, the games can damn well have any visual and audio effects the developers please. Sports on the other hand are affected by the unfortunate circumstance of awkward silence and distant perspective. A game's shit design has nothing to do with it.

        • Go play Craft the World - it's clearly not nearly as good to spectate as any of the large spectator games out there right now like LOL or DOTA2, and in about 5 minutes you'd be convinced of it too. Here's a portion of a video specifically addressing spectator games, skipped to the relevant portion [youtube.com]. If you feel like doing a bit more legwork instead of having the mental exercise done for you, watch this video [youtube.com] - it points out a bunch of design features relating to the map in League of Legends, and is very easi
          • Jesus christ, League of Legends AND Extra Credit? In some countries that could be considered a challenge to armed combat.

            Yes, the design is irrelevant. The point was that games are inherently advantageous. I don't give a shit what godawful designers are doing to ruin their game's presentations.

            • Your point is that games are inherently advantaged. The reason they're inherently advantaged over physical sports is because they can be designed to be amazing spectator experiences.
    • I think a lot of the popularity of athletic sports comes from the fact that a viewer has some sort of stake in their team, such as pride for their city or country, i.e. the psychological aspect of "we're better than you." At least for myself, I enjoy sports, but only if I have a stake in the team. If it's just two random teams that I don't have any attachment to or opinion of, I tend to not be interested at all even if it's a sport I thoroughly enjoy watching when my team is playing. If video games are t
      • Dota team fans exhibit a lot of national pride. The fact that Dota is so popular in China makes a lot of big tournaments a clash of egos between Chinese and western fanbases.

    • Video games are better to spectate than sports. Broadcasters have known this for decades, doing what they could to compensate. Gimmicks won't stall change forever though, sooner than later they'll have to face this fact. The real interesting stuff will be the cultural shift when video games start to challenge the popularity of athletic sports.

      Decades? That would imply at least two decades. So you are suggesting that in 1994 broadcasters knew that video games are better to spectate that sports? I think that might be overstating things a little...

      • It's not. Sports broadcasts have been laden with effects and embellishments for ages. Even if they hadn't connected these traits with video games the inherent benefits have nevertheless been understood.

    • The real interesting stuff will be the cultural shift when video games start to challenge the popularity of athletic sports.

      I expect that to happen around the 2080s when the copyrights in popular multiplayer video games start expiring, provided that national legislatures don't extend the term of copyright again. Until then, a game's publisher is allowed to dictate who, when, where, and how broadcasts are allowed to happen.

  • sorry, old school here. But a sport involves the combo of physical exertion, and skill. Skill for gaming ? no doubt gaming requires a huge amount of skill. But physical exertion? come ON. and no question that gaming is going mainstream, when espn starts covering it ... expecting the mod downs ... waiting for em actually ...
    • sorry, old school here. But a sport involves the combo of physical exertion, and skill.

      Exactly. Professional Sports athletes put in countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears to become the best at what they do. They need to practice and better themselves physically in order to become the best at what they do. They risk their bodies (from injuries) when playing sports. Sitting in a chair with a controller behind a TV/Computer screen is nothing compared to what "old school" sports athletes go through. 2 a day practices, 6am practices, etc. You just won't find that kind of sacrifice in esports -

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Starcraft 1 players on pro teams lived together and their average day was full of training between meals, gym session, and theorycrafting with their coach. Isn't polishing the matchups and builds for 12hrs a day not enough of a sacrifice?
        Try practising so much that you are able to sustain 300 actions per minute with 99% accuracy for half an hour and then we'll talk.

    • by Khyber (864651)

      " But a sport involves the combo of physical exertion,"

      Back in my day, lugging that goddamned 21" Trinitron CRT around with my almost as heavy loaded Antec P4 Server WAS the physical exertion aspect. Not easy for someone that's 6' and 145.

      Off my lawn.

    • by locopuyo (1433631)
      Why would they show eSports on ESPN when they can reach a wider audience and offer a much better experience with streaming? Traditional TV is going the way of the Dodo, everything is moving to streaming. It is like saying Soccer won't be mainstream until it is on the radio.
  • About how they get harassed from gamers

    http://games.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org]

    Can you imagine any of these people dealing with what an Umpire a Tennis Linesman, or a god forbid a Soccer Ref has to go through ?

    • by Detonia (3694291)
      Exactly. This is one of my big problems about modern feminism. They deal with the same problems that everyone else, male and female, in their position has to endure, but because they're women it's sexist.
  • by GrBear (63712)

    The 21st. century version of the Special Olympics.

  • Lame. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moof123 (1292134) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:27PM (#47533351)

    Regular sports are already a pretty obnoxious part of our society. Fandom brings out an ugly semi-repressed tribal side of people. Most sports themselves are lame and boring to watch on TV,especially when the wanker of an announcer just can't shut up and has to drone on with endless repeats of some anecdote.

    Sports, like electronic games, can be a lot of fun to play, mostly awful to watch.

    Stay off my lawn too.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The entire purse of The International 2014 was larger than the British Open - this is one step in eSports becoming relevant.

  • Arguments for or against this being a sport are all missing the point. It's an activity performed by an elite few that a large population of people want to spectate. It's a spectacle and entertainment. Whether it's a eSports, baseball, food eating competitions, the Olympics, a boxing match, poker, etc. the common denominator for them all is that enough people want to view it that that the activity becomes economically sustainable in some manner.

  • I'm going to be competing in my first official Super Smash Bros Melee tournament (ie. paid entry, prizes) in a couple of days and have been soaking in many videos of professional tournament games over the past couple weeks. It's truly amazing to me to see the strategies and techniques that the pros employ. It takes a LOT of practice to be able to exploit a character's specific intricacies in order to optimize your offensive and defensive game. It practically gets down to the point of playing mind games w

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