Esports are big enough business now that the people who play them are household names in a lot of homes. It’s not that long ago that the idea of competitively playing video games, and making real money from doing so, would have been laughed at in the same homes. To this day, being good at video games doesn’t necessarily mean being an esports pro - because, for one thing, not every popular video game becomes an esport.


Let’s take an example of a top game that has never truly crossed over into esport territory. GTA - whichever version of the game you choose - has always been a highly popular game with plenty of online versions where you can play competitively. But it’s never become the kind of game that esport teams play in front of arena crowds. Why is that? Well, to understand why some games have bettors scouring to find odds for esport competitions, and some remain popular household games, let’s look at some of the key differences.

Mission-based playability doesn’t help

As epic as GTA San Andreas is, and the same can be said of its follow-up games, it doesn’t lend itself to esports gaming because it’s inherently mission-based. You can play “free” for a spell, enjoying the various attractions of the location in which the game is played, but to advance, you’ve got to play missions - and that doesn’t lend itself to an esports setting. Games which have become esports are ones where the competition is the point - any head-to-head fighter like Mortal Kombat or StreetFighter 2, or sports games like FIFA - or free-world games like DotA or WoW.

Dota 2

Publishers need to be open to esports compatibility

Older gamers will remember the first time they played a specific game, and how tough the whole thing felt. Only with continued play did they get good enough to master levels and bosses. And then, before you knew it, you could complete the game with your eyes closed. If Sonic the Hedgehog became an esport, the playing field would be filled with 50-year-old gamers who knew all the hiding places for extra lives and the short cuts.

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In more modern games, which see updates released on a regular basis, there can always be something new to master. This means there’s always something to learn and a new challenge, which separates good players from people who’ve just played a game lots.

Funding makes a difference

One major reason why games become esports is because it’s easy enough to hold events. That’s how they get mass exposure, and it means they need to be able to support arena-based competition. That’s not the kind of thing any player can do by themselves, it requires serious cash injections, which will usually come from game developers themselves. A great independent game is unlikely to ever become an esport, even if it has all of the other elements, because a shoestring publishing house isn’t going to be able to hire an arena and attract the sponsorship to make it go viral.

League Of Legends World Championship

While that is a shame, it’s not the end of the world - there are thousands of games, and maybe dozens become esports, so the most important thing continues to be that games are enjoyed by those who play them.

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