While playing on your PlayStation Vita may be the main way that you enjoy gaming, you will also have heard about eSports. This fast-growing sector within gaming sees teams of professional players battle it out online or in real-life tournaments to see who is the best. Mixing video games and sports, it is a very popular niche that has millions of fans who log on or come along to watch.
The stats around the whole eSports sector back up not only how successful it is but also how much it has surged in recent years. From a $655m annual revenue in 2017, it has shot up to an expected $1bn by the end of 2019, and many project an almost $2bn annual turnover by 2022. The global audience figures also bear out the rapid surge that eSports has seen in the last few years. It is now pegged to reach almost 650 million by 2022 from 335 million in 2017.
LoL, CS:GO and the future – how has eSports increased its popularity?
The hard facts prove that this sport has seen big gains in recent times, but how has this happened? Major brand investment into the sector is a big part of the story with all the money and exposure it has given eSports. Partnerships and even entire teams owned by some high profile traditional athletes – think Rick Fox’s League of Legends team ‘Echo Fox’ for example – bring mainstream media interest.
Cultural hurdles are often the biggest stop of eSports growth. Respected athletes lend credence to claims that they rival traditional sports, but it is equally important to address that from the ground up. Anyone can now engage with eSports betting and place bets on which team they think will win an event or league. This not only helps to give the industry more exposure to mainstream audiences but also helps it to build the same kind of recognition as major traditional sports such as football.
Has Sony missed the boat?
For all PS Vita players, the big question is whether Sony as a company has failed to capitalise on this new, exciting way of playing and watching games. For many PS Vita players and others who use Sony hardware, the answer seems to be “Yes”.
Here are a few reasons why this is the general feeling among Sony gaming followers:
- Slow to update hardware – one of the big issues that many think has seen Sony miss the eSports boat somewhat is its lack of next-gen hardware to support it. To have really made the most of its surge, Sony needed to have more powerful machines in place a few years ago with the right support, ready to allow players to engage fully with the major eSports leagues that were springing up.
- Slow to allow cross-platform gaming – we all know that Sony has taken quite a hard line on cross-platform gaming through its history. While admirable, this is another reason why the company has failed to capitalise on the eSports surge. As many people like to play together on different machines or games, restricting Sony players in this way was a disaster. While this is now being changed, it may be too little, too late.
- Did not see significance of eSports early enough – as above, Sony has now seemingly realised how big eSports is and will continue to be in the future. This leaves the firm a little late getting off the starting blocks though and on the back foot somewhat, playing catch-up. It would seem that Sony simply failed to realise how massive eSports would become and how popular it would be with their own players.
- Not enough suitable titles developed – one big gripe for PS Vita fans who wanted to play eSports is that not enough suitable titles were developed. This is part of a larger failure of Sony to understand how well suited the PS Vita could have been to eSports in general. It is not just limited to the PS Vita though – Sony has not been quick enough to partner with games developers to get eSports-type games ready in general. While the partnership with the developers behind Call of Duty has eased this somewhat, many think that the lack of the right games has seen Sony miss out.
Will Sony be able to repair the damage?
As the above shows, it is pretty clear that Sony was slow to react and do what was needed to really ride the initial surge in eSports. To be fair, this is something that you could say about other console brands, such as Nintendo. It seems that eSports took off so quickly that it caught everyone out!
What is encouraging for Sony fans moving into the future though is that the company is now putting great effort into eSports. The bad news for PS Vita players is that with Sony officially ending production of the handheld gem, it will not be something to take advantage of on this wonderful little console.