When looking at esports, whilst there are a number of different genres represented across a growing library of titles, one thing that remains clear is that a few successful genres are able to make it to the top whilst others struggle to grow – of the biggest esports games played to date, first-person shooters, multiplayer online battle arenas, and real-time strategy have been the few managed to make it big. These are also often the online genres that stretch into supporting markets such as the growing online esports betting scene like here, but why is it that these genres succeed whilst others struggle?
A spectator sport – Perhaps one of the most important factors to consider with the esports market is the spectator factor – the successes of these games come from the live streamed tournaments and events that take place and whilst many do host offline events with a live audience, the millions of viewers come through the online streaming platforms. Bigger games such as Counter-Strike have been able to remain popular for nearly twenty years due to the simple nature of the basics whilst also having a lot of nuance too – this allows newer viewers to understand the basics quickly and enjoy the fast paced action, whilst also allowing the more experience players to enjoy the more complex factors that take place in the games. The titles that fall short often have too much complexity for the new viewers, and attracting the wider audience becomes difficult, relying solely on the existing player base for viewership.
Accessibility is key – Another factor to consider is whether or not new viewers are able to quickly jump into the game they’re watching – this is perhaps one of the biggest factors that has allowed the biggest esports in the world, League of Legends, grow to the size it has. As a free game, players who have simply tuned in to watch an event have been able to download the game and jump into a game with little delay and learn to play themselves, the accessibility has allowed for player counts to rise with the growing interest, something that paid titles or games with more steps required have been unable to achieve.
A cultural drive – Other games have found huge success through being developed through the culture – this has been true for games such as Counter-Strike in parts of Europe, or for other big titles such as Starcraft in Korea. Some games have become a deep part of the gaming culture that they’ll find huge success regardless of international success, and this is something that has pushed certain genres forward. With genres such as RTS and recently MOBA, certain regions will pick it up quickly and become the forefront of the push for it to move in esports, and with certain regions making up a huge number of the player base and viewer base too, the early success from a cultural drive can often be enough to push a game forward and push it in to the limelight.