When looking at the big names today in titles such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and DotA2, it’s often easy to forget that esports in its current form has only really been around for the past decade or so – prior to this it was a much smaller, and much more difficult environment for players to make the sacrifice of becoming professional esports players. Now we see six figure salaries and prize pools of the tens of millions, but where does this all come from and how is it possible that esports have begun to rival more traditional sporting names?
A big part of the support granted to the games themselves has came largely from the ingame cosmetics that provide players with a sometimes exclusive looking item or set of items for a cost – we’ve seen this primarily in Valve titles as both Counter-Strike and DoTA2 have been very forthcoming when explaining that a certain item or set of items will directly influence the outcome of a tournament prize pool as tournaments like The International have boasted huge figures based on player contributions.
The most recent title to join this list has been the extremely popular Valorant – Riot games have a history of using cosmetics to fund their production and esports growth through their other title League of Legends and many are expecting this to be a cause in the high cost of cosmetic items in the game – the recent Elderflame set with full upgrades for the visual effects and different colourways boasted a total cost reaching $260, with no doubt that much of this will be used to recoup the cost of development as the game is free to play, that combined with the cost of the battle pass is what many believe will help fuel the growth of the Valorant esport – community run events such as the recent PAX Invitational have shown the growing demand for the title to grow so quickly after its inception and for now it is just a waiting game for the current pandemic to end so official events can get started, but thus far the approach has proven to be very successful and may continue to be so moving forward.
There’s also a growing value being placed on the esports betting market as it has quickly evolved and changed over time, especially now that many betting operators have become a direct part of some tournaments – there have been adjustments to some measures such as Gamstop aimed at reducing player participation but a growing number such as Max Casinos have many alternatives that don’t register to GameStop and have been very successful in esports, particularly recently, and continue to offer a familiar platform for newcomers to the sport who may not understand many of the unique features that are present – it provides a bridge to gap the world of traditional sporting events and digital sports, and thus far has been very successful at providing that goal.