Will esports play a role in the future of the metaverse?
Gaming is increasingly popular across all demographics and geographics. With the advent of online platforms, more people are engaging with games to have fun and compete professionally with social and economic incentives. Statistics from GlobeNewswire even reveal that the global esports market was worth $1.22 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $5.48 billion by 2029. Given the boundless growth of esports, it’s unsurprising how gaming can become a gateway to many opportunities, including the Metaverse.
A quick look back at esporting history
Esports, or electronic sports, refers to competitive gaming via video games. Despite the initial stigma in earlier years, video games and esports have become recognized worldwide. As a matter of fact, in the 2022 World Championship of the popular game League of Legends, the competition broke its previous record of peak viewership at 5.1 million across multiple streaming platforms and channels. But how did esports come to be so renowned?
Although gaming competitions started in the early 1970s, esports mainly saw its boom as the internet became more accessible worldwide. This gaming culture is primarily present in South Korea, mainly because of the government’s early investments in internet infrastructure in the 1990s. The country’s tourism department even sponsored the first World Cyber Games as early as 2000 alongside tech giants Microsoft and Samsung— helping drive esports across the globe.
Much like any sport, esports provides players with not only the opportunity to compete and showcase their skills but also gain a livelihood. Players can earn through competitive winnings, advertising deals, and even individual live streaming platforms where skilled gaming athletes can receive tips from their audiences. As of 2021, a report by Esports Earnings shared that more than $240 million worth of prize money was awarded in that single year.
Esports and the Metaverse
The Metaverse’s virtual world is built on virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. With its visualized capabilities, it may eventually become the hub of 3D entertainment as gaming becomes more immersive and interactive. Given esports’ leading role in the gaming community, it’s unsurprising that transitions to the Metaverse can start with esports. Below are some ways esports can be integrated into the Metaverse.
Experience unique events
While some fans and game enthusiasts can attend a live esports competition, most typically watch through a screen— severely limiting the experience. Metaverse can transform this experience to be more immersive. Case in point, self-described Metaverse company Infinite Reality projects to create plug-and-play virtual environments which brands can customize and use to host virtual events. One of their initial offerings includes virtual “sky boxes,” virtual spaces where esports and traditional sports teams can congregate during games and encourage fans to join them, boosting their experience through interaction with their favorite players.
Implementation of blockchain and NFTs
The Metaverse cyberspace has already seen the implementation of blockchain technology, increasing the financial incentive for esports by using cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Top esports teams such as Astralis and Alliance have already signed deals with the crypto exchange Bybit. This raises the idea that cryptocurrencies could become prizes in the virtual world. Furthermore, play-to-earn concepts are already a defining feature of the Metaverse. As each virtual asset has distinctive characteristics, esports can harness tournaments to produce gaming assets and unique NFTs specific to the event.
Adoption of new games into esports
Our post “Metaverse Trends for 2023: What to Expect?” shares how the Metaverse is on track to better VR experiences with greater accessibility and graphical fidelity. Given that more high-quality VR games may be released, especially those produced by AAA game studios, more games may be adopted for esports contexts. As VR esports enable players to embody their avatars, the Metaverse is uniquely positioned to virtualize players so they can compete as if they were in an arena.
As the Metaverse continues to get more sophisticated, there are plenty of opportunities for the virtual space to adopt esports into its arsenal. Considering how esports is a massive part of the gaming community, this audience can encourage more investments into tech, driving further growth and innovation.
Exclusively written for thegang.io by Janice Beck