The first article in this series provided an overview of esports and the major tournaments. This week’s article takes a closer look at the types of games that make for the best competitive gaming.
One genre dominates competitive gaming today: Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs), which include Riot Games’ League of Legends and Valve’s Dota 2. In these games, teams of five players compete head-to-head, usually to take control of a map and destroy the enemy’s base. The diversity in character choice, item acquisition, and player skill level in this genre effectively capture and maintain viewer interest. Moreover, keeping up with in-game events in real time and across multi-player teams requires a considerable amount of effort on the part of viewers.
The fighting game genre is more straightforward than MOBA, and typically features one-on-one player battles in traditional 2 or 2.5D combat. Representative games in the competitive circuit include Capcom’s Street Fighter V, Tekken 7 by Bandai Namco, Killer Instinct, and Nintendo’s Smash Bros. Melee. Competitors will usually take part in best-of-3 matches, with the losing player getting an opportunity to counter-pick characters or stages after the first round.
The third major esports genre is shooter games. The FPS (first-person shooter) genre has been popular in competitive gaming since the release of the very first multi-player games. Major games of this genre in the competitive circuits include Valve’s Counter-Strike, Activision’s Call of Duty, and Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment.
In esports, FPS games are typically played in teams and rely upon team strategy as much as individual player skill. However, matches often boil down to one player’s reactions against another, and it is not uncommon for a particularly talented individual to be able to carry their team to victory. An exception to this is rule is found in role-based FPS games such as Overwatch or Rainbow Six Siege. These games are designed around each character in a team performing a particular role, meaning that one gamer’s slack must be picked up by the whole team.
The aforementioned genres account of the major of esports games today. esports events based around the following games are much smaller in scope.
In the racing genre, Bandai Namco’s Project CARS and the popular TrackMania series are among the titles that tend to attract a competitive crowd. Racing game players generally must qualify for an esports event by obtaining a respectable time trial score. The victor is then decided through a head-to-head match or series of matches against the other qualifiers.
FIFA, Madden NFL (both published by Electronic Arts), and Take-Two Interactive’s NBA 2K are three of the largest names in the sports genre. Sporting titles generally follow more frequent release schedules than other games, which helps to maintain the audience and esports scene. Many tournaments require players to use their own custom teams, made up from purchasable player packs, while others have competitors choose from a standard roster. In the recent and highly popular take on the sports genre, Rocket League by Psyonix Studios, players control rocket-propelled cars in what is otherwise a game of soccer. The objective is ultimately similar, however, as players compete alone or in teams of two as they aim to drive the ball into the opponent’s goal.
Despite losing ground to MOBA over recent years, real-time strategy games remain one of the most popular forms of competitive gaming. Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft and StarCraft II lead this genre, which also includes titles such as Warcraft III and Microsoft’s Age of Empires series. In an RTS (real-time strategy) title, players control units and build structures in a fluid system, competing to control and contest the map area before the other player. After capturing resources, users can expend materials on more powerful troops and buildings in order to turn the tides of battle on their opponent.
Finally, the online card game genre is another style that features in esports today. The main title in this genre is currently Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone, which dominates the competitive scene, but Gwent by CD Projekt RED, and The Elder Scrolls: Legends by Bethesda Softworks have also made in-roads into the esports scene and established audiences for themselves. In these games, players must use their individual accounts to collect virtual cards through extended playtime or pack-purchasing before building decks for competitive play. These titles see semi-regular updates that release waves of new cards into the games, leading to an ever-changing meta in the esports community.
In our third installment of the state of eSports today will focus on the current state of prize pools and audiences for competitive gaming.