Could professional gamers one day stand on the podium at the Olympic Games to receive their medals? Riot Games co-founder Brandon Beck thinks so.
“We don’t have our sights set on replacing soccer right now,” Beck told Games Industry International, but we definitely think that eSports has a place as a large, important, mainstream competitive activity. I fundamentally believe that eSports will be an Olympic event in my lifetime.”
Already, Riot’s Games’ eSport “championship series” now rivals other sporting events, with million-dollar purses and 10 million viewers tuning in to the matches. That’s raised the visibility of their game, League of Legends, and helped it to become the most-played PC game in the world. Raptr’s data confirms that LoL eSports efforts translate directly into increased playtime and also new users (up an average of 12% and 10% respectively after major events), a fact that some other publishers are just beginning to realize.
But to truly take eSports to the international stage, Beck thinks developers need a higher level of commitment.
“It’s important for companies to not just say they’re excited about eSports,” says Beck, “but to actually make commitments from a development standpoint and from a financial standpoint.” That means creating a sustainable infrastructure of games, athletes, and career paths that anyone with the talent and drive can reach for. League of Legends’ overwhelming success shows that if you build it, the players will come.
According to Beck, the demand for this service has always been there. Finally, the technology and the architecture to support it is catching up.
“The innovation going forward in eSports is all going to be around the quality of broadcasts, the quality of live events, the quality of the leagues themselves,” says Beck. And from there, the players themselves with drive eSports forward…possibly to Olympic gold.
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