The Hidden eSports Technology Revolution
Events, High Technology, Innovation Posted Nov 16, 2018 by Doug De Orchis
At CHEN PR, high technology is a part of everyday life.
But, after attending the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) of Cambridge event, “The eSports, Gaming and Blockchain Technology Revolution,” we were floored to discover that tens of millions of people worldwide participated in a phenomenon we assumed was a mere cult following.
eSports, or professional competitive gaming, embraces technological advances in broadcasting, content distribution and blockchain technologies to
draw massive in-person and online viewership. In 2018, The League of Legends World Championship had worldwide viewership of 103.4 million people. To put that into perspective, the tournament had more viewers than the NBA Finals, the NHL Stanley Cup Finals and the World series COMBINED.
What may be even more impressive is growth rate of the eSports fanbase. Only a year ago at the 2017 League of Legends World Championship, viewership was 60 million people.
Khalid Jones, Managing Partner/ Source Rock Partners, LLP and co-founder of eSports team Echo Fox, did a great job of moderating the evening’s conversation. He had tremendous resources to facilitate that assignment. Panelists included entrepreneurs, innovators, and a patent attorney in the eSports technology community sharing their insights into discuss the future of eSports:
- Jake Fyfe, General Manager, Echo Fox
- Giovanna Fessenden, Of Counsel, Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds
- L. Taylor, Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT and co-founder and Director of Research for AnyKey
- Kevin Mitchell, Director of Business Development at National Amusements, Inc. and Adjunct Professor for eSports at Emerson College
We had assumed the experts would discuss the technical aspects of what made the eSports empire possible, which they did. But, it quickly became apparent that their input about the business and cultural impact of the industry was at least as significant as the tech behind it.
The panel kicked off the discussion about how the eSports industry differed from the traditional sports industry. As it turns out, one of the biggest differences between the two is the structure of ownership. For example, the NLF does not hold any intellectual rights to the game of football, yet videogame publishers own the intellectual property of the games in which the professional players compete. In the same vein, while traditional sports leagues are owned by the teams themselves, video game publishers own their leagues and the teams that participate in them.
The cultural divide between eSports and traditional sports is arguably more significant – and we have eSports’ technological origins to thank for that.
Whereas traditional sports rely on key physical conditions (i.e. physically fit players and locations to compete), eSports were born on international networks and are played by competitors of nearly every fitness level. The end result? An environment where anyone can become a competitive player, and a spectating infrastructure with endless scaling potential.
With the help of the internet and video streaming services like Twitch, nearly anyone can contribute to the culture of eSports. That being said, the industry is taking shape in different ways in different places. Socioeconomic status determines what kind of devices people can afford to play on….and that different regions prefer different devices.
It’s amazing to hear how fast the eSports industry has grown, and how much money is being poured into it – from corporate sponsorships and the videogame publishers themselves. The industry, while nascent, has the potential to create a lasting impact on entertainment trends and social influence as we know it.