The flurry of announcements regarding eSport tournaments has been mind blowing. With the success of League of Legend’s tournament last year, a number of major game publishers are throwing their hat into the ring and offering up multi-million prize pools to establish their game as an eSport contender.
All together, we’re looking at over $6 mil in prizing for eSports for 2013 just based on the announcements made in the last few weeks.
Last year, League of Legend’s prize pool of $2 mil was an impressive commitment from Riot to prop the game up in the competitive gaming scene. However, what really got everyone’s attention was how these tournaments started to capture a massive following of gamers. After the finals for their annual League of Legends tournament wrapped up, Riot announced that over 8 million people had tuned in to watch the events.
Suddenly every major competitor wants in on the glory.
Activision wasn’t going to be left out, especially when they have the #1 FPS out there. They formalized a COD eSports effort with a $1 mil prize. This is one of the few tournaments out there that is focused on Xbox 360 exclusively.
Even Sony, who tends to take a more “careful approach” to anything they do, announced a partnership with Major League Gaming by bringing their new hit game Planetside 2 into the competitive scene.
Not to be outdone, Wargaming who is flush with cash due to the massive success of their F2P game World of Tanks, has put together a prize pool of $2.5 mil for their own eSports league, the biggest prize ever offered recently.
Starcraft II is already a stable within the eSports scene with prize pools in the 6 digit figures. Blizzard has been vocal about making the game more eSport friendly with new spectator features, and interactive video capturing.
The real question of whether eSports becomes mainstream is how much media coverage the competitive gaming scene gets. CBS has already announced a web series covering tournaments. Twitch.TV has exploded to become one of the top 500 most trafficked sites out there due in large part to the site streaming eSports tournaments, and even raised an additional $15 mil last year to accelerate growth. And as we mentioned above, LOL pulled in more than 8 million viewers for their tournaments last year. That’s more viewers than some hit TV shows like How I Met Your Mother, The Simpsons, and well anything on the CW. I’d say eSports has already arrived.