What makes a game an eSport?
Here at GameSkinny, we love our eSports. We cover tournaments, write player profiles, and offer advice to players looking to go pro. But what makes an eSport? How does a game transition from casual multiplayer to professional competitions with teams, analyst desks, and massive prize rewards? Well we have the answer. In order for a game to become a successful eSport, the game needs to be competitive, have a large player base, and be well funded.
So lets start with competition.
If you break down eSports (sports in general), it is players competing against one another. That is why you see teams from around the world competing to prove who is the best. Thus, a game cannot become an eSport if it isn't competitive. For example, we will never see Minecraft as an eSport. The game is extremely popular and has a huge player base, but Minecraft isn't about who can build the biggest fortress, or who can collect the most rotten flesh in 15 minutes. A good eSports game needs to have a clear winner and loser.
Another quality eSport games need is a large player base.
Having a healthy eSports scene is impossible unless you have enough players. It is regular players who will watch Twitch streams, read interviews, and attend tournament events, so you need players to drive the game and community forward.
There are several games that could have become eSports, but lacked players. Take Hawken for example. The game has a high skill cap and is incredibly competitive. The only issue was that the game didn't have enough players to establish a professional scene, so the original developers went bankrupt.
The most important quality a game needs to become an eSport is proper funding.
While eSports make a ton of money, they also cost a lot to maintain. Companies need to pay for casters, video and sound technicians, writers, venues, add additional staff, and advertise, as well as provide tournament prizes. None of that is possible unless a game has money.
Ever wonder why every Blizzard game is an eSport? It is because they have enough players and money to do so. Blizzard could probably make a game where players throw digital rocks at each other, and it would become an eSport.
While there can be other factors that determine if a game is an eSport, the qualities listed above are absolutely necessary for all successful eSports. Just take a look at major eSports such as SMITE, LoL, or Dota 2. I guarantee that they all have these qualities. Comment below on what you think great eSports need.