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Can eSports Spark New Speculative Games?

When we talk about eSports these days, it tends to be in the context of the spread of the sport (if we’re all agreed on calling it a sport) and the incredible potential it still seems to have. Total revenue for eSports is expected to surpass $1.4 billion by 2020, with a worldwide audience that could exceed 300 million people. It’s remarkable that just a few years ago the idea of people watching other people play video games online seemed, if not entirely foreign, at least a little bit strange. Now the concept’s growth potential seems boundless.

Rather than thinking exclusively about audience numbers and professional revenue though, it’s also interesting to wonder what else might come about as a result of eSports expansion. And one concept that comes to mind is a whole new genre of mobile games developed for the sake of speculation about eSports.

This too may sound strange, until you really consider all of the factors that go into modern sports betting. If you aren’t one to bet on sporting outcomes yourself, the process probably seems rather cut and dry – and in certain cases, it can be. However, it’s more involved for others. A guide to football betting in the UK and Europe does a nice job of painting a broad picture, starting with the idea of weighing factors to choose a site and discussing choosing the right league, streaming the matches, exploring different betting markets pertaining to those matches, etc. It’s a whole process, and one that explicitly involves watching the matches. This is not unlike how some put money on eSports today – and, as with typical sports speculation, it can be taken a step further and effectively turned into a game.

What we’re talking about at that point is effectively something akin to fantasy sports. The fantasy industry has grown enormously over the past decade, such that it is now a powerhouse exceeding $7 billion in annual revenue. This revenue is gathered through all kinds of different games revolving around a huge range of sports all over the world. And if you’re not particularly familiar with fantasy sports, what this basically means is that people are keeping tabs on various teams and leagues and placing money on hand-picked selections of individual competitors, hoping that those competitors’ statistical performances add up to high enough totals to win match-ups or place in a pay-off range on leaderboards.

Most of the fantasy sports world exists through mobile apps these days, and it’s beginning to seem only sensible to wonder if fantasy eSports will emerge in the same medium. With people already watching eSports and betting in real time on them, this is just about the only avenue left for participation and speculation. New games could well allow fans to assemble rosters of individual gamers, betting on their collective performance via stats, wins, and losses, as opposed to placing bets on actual contests.

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