The wide world as ESports is set to get a (not so little) bit wider in 2018. Riot Games of, League of Legends fame, has announced a franchise model for the North American League Of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) for 2018. The move is expected to bring more attention to ESports in general. Blizzard has also announced franchise licensing for the Overwatch League.
ESports Popularity On The Rise
The exposure ESports has been getting as a whole has been steadily rising of the past years. With the rise of MOBAs this rise has only accelerated. Classics like DotA and Starcraft kicked off a movement nobody could have predicted a decade and a half ago. If you would have told anyone in 2000 that competitive gaming would be featured on ESPN, you would have had a 50/50 shot of being laughed out of the room.
Today, ESports are a multi-billion (with a 'B') endeavor. Riot's NA LCS franchise comes with a price tag of over $10 Million. This is cheap compared to Blizzards announced price of $20 Million! Not only do these franchises drive interest and exposure for the developers, it fills their coffers with the resources they need to innovate and push the gaming industry forward.
The Future Of ESports
From here, there's really only one direction for the industry. Up. The explosive growth of competitive gaming as a spectator sport has been absolutely astonishing in recent years. With industry growth last year being over 76% from the year before, it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, this move by Blizzard and Riot Games puts ESports' growth as a whole on the fast track. The value of competitive gaming as a spectator sport alone is an indicator it's only inevitable for other developers to jump on board. They either join or miss out.
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