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Changing times

Over 40 years ago when text was sent between two computers for the first time, the thought of being able to access an online library of information within an instant, being able to stream movies in HD or even just being able to chat online with someone else anywhere in the world in real-time was all the stuff of science fiction. The internet has made a lot of things possible for entertainment and business, but what can we expect to see next?

Nowadays, millions of pounds/dollars are transferred daily between businesses, thousands of gigabytes of online HD content are consumed every hour and a new type of phenomenon is emerging that is made possible partly by the internet.

One of my personal hobbies is to take part in competitive online gaming and spectate competitions and contests which are sometimes referred to as ‘e-sports’. I think in 10 years time, some will be as big if not bigger than some well-known televised sports we see today.

What is an e-sport?

Last year Valve, a company which manages a digital library of computer games and software ran their annual event for one of their well-known free-to-play titles ‘Dota 2’. There is a free online documentary following the teams taking part in the yearly tournament which helps answer the question of ‘What exactly is an e-sport’.

An e-sport can be defined as a video game competition played either over LAN or the internet where teams compete and spectators can watch live events/tournaments and actually play the game with others online. The typical view of gaming and games in general are somewhat outdated with most thinking of sprite based games like Mario and Sonic when hearing the word gaming, but these days competitive games are insanely complex in terms of graphics and game mechanics that are hard to master.  The fact that the top titles require real teamwork and strategy to win make them so appealing to watch and take part in yourself, even at a lower skill level.

This year’s 2014 Dota 2 tournament takes place in July and Valve have already raised 6.2 million dollars in the first week based on ‘compendium’ sales that, once purchased, will unlock rewards for gamers that play the game competitively as well as give 25% of that purchase to ‘the international’ prize pool for the professionals competing in the official tournament in Seattle. The prize pool looks set to reach over 10 million dollars.

Users can view tournaments (including the international once a compendium has been purchased) in the gaming client, or watch them on streaming sites such as Twitch over the internet for free. Google has recently identified the growth of streaming and e-sports which resulted in them buying Twitch for $1 Billion.

Why you should care and the impact for advertising

Well, sometimes it’s important to identify emerging trends which could be beneficial to yourself as a spectator/participant or be beneficial to your business by looking into team sponsorship. There are huge numbers behind the viewership of e-sports and could be an opportunity to think outside the box and get your brand out to lots of people early. If the popularity continues to grow, we will no doubt see more businesses looking to team sponsorship in order to reach audiences if their product or service is in some way relevant to the sports or the spectators watching.

Red Bull have identified the growth and importance of e-sports and have even gone as far to have a dedicated section their website covering all relevant news.

Facebook and Oculus

We discussed previously the recent Facebook acquisition of Oculus. In the future we could possibly see the Facebook owned Oculus Rift being used in e-sports as a way or freely moving the camera angle as the Rift tracks your head movements and positions your view based on that information. If the Rift becomes a platform to receive entertainment with the backing of the entertainment industry as a whole other than just game companies, we can expect to see uses of the Oculus Rift in many different and unexpected places.

Esports will no doubt continue to become something successful for businesses that are created to host tournaments and continue to grow in popularity. It’s exciting to think about what will emerge next through the internet as bandwidth continues to increase.

Image credit – Dota

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