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Business News/ Opinion / Views/  Opinion | How technology has evolved in the e-sports industry
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Opinion | How technology has evolved in the e-sports industry

There isn’t a better example of inclusivity and empowerment in video games than the rising phenomenon known as e-sports

What exactly makes e-sports inclusive and empoweringPremium
What exactly makes e-sports inclusive and empowering

Like all new mediums of entertainment, video games too have been viewed with suspicion by the mainstream media and the older generations. And just like films and comics before it, video games too have found wider acceptance as the generation that grew up playing them finally assumed the levers of power. However, video games distinguish themselves from all other entertainment mediums before it in one significant aspect: inclusivity and the power it grants to the participants.

There isn’t a better example of inclusivity and empowerment in video games than the rising phenomenon known as e-sports. But what exactly makes e-sports inclusive and empowering? Let’s begin by putting the sheer scale of the e-sports industry into perspective. We are dealing with a category that is still considered a niche by many, but it still generated a whopping $905 million in revenue in 2018. This figure is expected to cross the $1 billion mark within the next two years, according to conservative estimates. These figures really stand out when you compare it to well-established traditional sporting tournaments. The annual Dota 2 e-sports world championship tournament, the International 2017, had a total prize pool of nearly $25 million. This makes well-established sporting events such as NBA Championships (basketball, $13 million), the Masters 2017 (golf, $11 million), and ICC Champions Trophy (cricket, $4.5 million) pale in comparison.

Technology is undoubtedly the main driving force behind the accessibility of e-sports. The unique nature of the technology associated with the medium takes away the socio-economic barriers withholding the ordinary Joe from achieving success in other professional sports. Things get a bit complicated at the higher level of e-sports, with the need for sponsorships and competent coaching. Fortunately, the great thing about video games being a core technology driven medium is that e-sports has always been a data-rich affair. While traditional sports have been slow to adopt modern technologies such as computerized telemetry and analytics, these are embedded into competitive video games by design. Proving your worth in competitive games and getting noticed isn’t restricted to playing your A-game when the selectors pay a visit. Advanced telemetry and global ranking systems in all e-sports games worth their salt, not only help e-sports champions establish their worth, but it also makes the task of zeroing in on the right talent that much easier for sponsors as well as teams., now acquired by Amazon, has not only shaped how professional sporting events are consumed by the multimillion- strong audience, but it has also given individual gamers the chance to turn their hobby into a viable source of income. While donations and subscriptions allow small-time streamers to go big-time, multi-brand sponsorship is enjoyed by established streamers such as Ninja. This has also spawned ancillary careers such as e-sports shoutcasting, which can pay six-digit figure salaries to experienced shoutcasters.

The technological evolution of e-sports isn’t solely restricted to video games and the growing community either. The burgeoning industry has spawned a separate category of computer as well as console peripherals ranging from specialized monitors and input devices to audio systems and dedicated e-sports tailored hardware. However, the most significant aspect of e-sports manifests itself in the way it has spilled onto an unlikely platform.

The influx of popular Battle Royale titles such as PUBG and Fortnite on mobile phones has had a transformative effect on the platform. Starting with Razer, which was the first to deliver a high-refresh rate mobile display and smartphone hardware tailored specifically for gaming, practically all major smartphone makers have released their own versions of juiced up smartphones specifically developed for mobile games, thereby opening the avenues for professional e-sports from an unlikely medium hitherto considered the refuge of casual gamers.

From PCs, consoles and mobiles, e-sports technology is now branching out to more unlikely avenues. Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging platform that is still in its nascent stages, but that still hasn’t stopped Intel and ESL to partner with The latter is a rare breed of e-sports-focused VR provider, which has partnered with established players such as Intel and ESL to broadcast the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in full 360-degree VR immersion. Despite VR being considered a niche with a high barrier of entry, the broadcast recorded peak viewership of a whopping 340,000 concurrent viewers.

Although e-sports is new and nascent compared to other traditional sports business, it has evolved and proliferated in an unprecedented manner within the span of its short history. As newer technologies emerge and change the way we play video games and consume gaming content, e-sports is both a sub-culture and a business that will continue to transform and reinvent itself as the ever-changing technology landscape evolves.

Mujahid Rupani is CEO of COBX Gaming.

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Published: 10 Jul 2019, 06:51 PM IST
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