What Could the Next Generation of Consoles Mean for Esports?
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With both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X set to hit the shelves before the end of 2020, the interests of the esports crowd are piqued. Given the ever-growing reach of the competitive gaming industry, it’s vitally important that the next generation of consoles cater to the globally-watched sector. So, let’s consider how the upcoming Microsoft and Sony devices may impact esports.
Why is Catering to the Esports Market Important?
In order to assess how these consoles could influence the future of the esports sector, it’s first important to analyze why the market is worth investing in from a developer perspective. Fundamentally, the reason that the PS5 and Xbox Series X are both somewhat under pressure to deliver from a competitive standpoint can be attributed to the size of the esports market. According to a recent report by Strive Sponsorship, the industry’s global market is securing a year-on-year growth rate of 11.7 percent. As a result, this has seen the sector amass an audience base of 495 million people in 2020.
Aside from the industry’s recent progression, the continued focus on providing more diversity within esports is also leading to participants demanding more from mainstream developers. Crucially, the sector has outgrown its streaming-only nature, with in-house tournaments and online news platforms emerging to take the market to new, unprecedented heights. For example, platforms such as Win.gg have altered the manner in which viewers can engage with competitive gaming, allowing them to access and consume the latest esports news in one place, with different sections dedicated to the most popular titles such as Dota 2, LoL, Overwatch, and more. As for land-based esports tournaments, the $10 million esports stadium in Arlington, Texas is one of the several examples of just how many flock to watch competitive video games tournaments in person.
What Are Gamers Hoping For?
Throughout the rise of esports, both Microsoft and Sony were committed to providing a competitive gaming-oriented service. While, in many ways, they made strides towards an esports-focused future, many believe that the next generation of consoles is what will give either one true potential to assert dominance in the sector. Crucially, with highly-anticipated titles set for release on the PS5, like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, there is undoubtedly scope for Sony to do more regarding esports given the forward-thinking nature of contemporary games and audiences’ eagerness to embrace advances.
In a recent interview, the PS5’s lead architect, Mark Cerny, stated that the upcoming console will be more powerful than any existing gaming PC. Intriguingly, this generates an element of promise surrounding the devices’ capabilities regarding esports. This is because many of the sector’s most popular games at present, such as Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Dota 2, and League of Legends, are all predominantly played on PC.
Furthermore, next-generation platforms provide the ideal foundations for both Microsoft and Sony to explore the creation of in-house, esports-oriented games. Although this may inadvertently impact the development of single-player games, immersive multiplayer titles have thus far enjoyed the most success within the world of esports. As a result, exploring this route could enable next-generation consoles to surpass PCs as the industry’s go-to device.
The Market is Too Lucrative to Ignore
Ultimately, in developing into a $1.1 billion industry, it would be unwise for both Microsoft and Sony to ignore the potential of the esports sector. Importantly, given the enhanced nature of the PS5 in particular regarding its hardware and software, there’s no reason that the console won’t be able to supply the type of esports-friendly content that’s demanded by gamers. That’s what we’ve been promised, at least.