4 Types Of Games That Should Have A Bigger Place In Esports

Guest Post by Alex Himmel

As the esports industry continues to expand and improve it's becoming packed with different types of games and leagues - such that it seems like there's something for just about everybody. From combat and shooter games, to real-time strategy, to sports experiences, most major genres are covered at least to some extent. Even so though, there's really a handful of games that dominates the business (and the discussion around it), making it difficult for some other popular types of games to break through.

These are four genres and styles of gaming in particular that - we hope - gain a bigger place in esports moving forward.


Virtual reality's many uses have finally begun to influence society pretty broadly. Yet modern VR more or less began as a gaming platform, and despite a few growing pains it's finally produced some excellent gaming experiences. And there's no end to the potential thrills the world of eSports could see from certain applications. With screens for the audiences to see what the players are experiencing, as well as visibility of the gamer in real life, fans could enjoy the whole picture, no matter what game was being played. Naturally this is something that's already being explored lightly, but really what we're talking about is a particular eSports game or two taking off. For example, there are already several decent VR boxing games Can you imagine the excitement of a full VR boxing circuit within the eSports community?


The excitement of wagers and gambling has always drawn an audience, and spectators can watch professional poker on TV even now. Generally, digital casino gaming has strayed towards the arcade and slot games we see from Canadian and European providers online - which tend to involve less in the way of multiplayer activity or competitive potential. However, it's not as if there aren't still millions of online poker allayers around the world. Between that, the existing market for card-based strategy games (think: Hearthstone), and the fact that poker tournaments are already making forays into esports venues (as happened in Las Vegas last year), we'd like to see more attention devoted to this classic game. Perhaps if a developer got game just right, keeping the bones of the game but infusing enough visual and audio excitement to appeal to a broad audience, digital poker could become a hit in the industry.


Real-time strategy games like Sid Meier's Civilization or Age of Empires aren't that big in the esports world, but they have a lot of potential. In fact, the latter has even been discussed as a possible “next big esport”. The immense possibilities in these games mean there would always something for the spectators to watch, from each technological advancements to upgrades to the cities and towns. There would be a fun suspense factor as people waited to see which player gained the advantage and how - particularly if competitions were drawn out over time.


Given there massive popularity, it's somewhat surprising mobile puzzle games haven't found a significant in with esports yet. But hit could be really exciting to watch players and teams try to beat each other through complex levels of ever-increasing difficulty. Games like Monument Valley and Hitman GO are just a couple examples of the games that could be used, complete with their moving staircases, platforms, pillars, and other fun obstacles.

Any or all of the above would be awesome additions to the expanding esports universe.

Guest Post by Alex Himmel

Is It Time to Pay Attention to VR in eSports?


VR and eSports (Photo: HTC)

In addition to The Next Level Industry Guest eSports Podcast series, there will also be Industry contributions to tnlmedia.news. The first in the written series comes from Corey Freeland, who works on VR/AR Content and Distribution Strategy at Ripple Collective.

TNL Take: Even if VR/AR/MR (or whatever comes next) only achieves 20% of its potential, it will be a massive transformation. As the PC revolution was overtaken by the Internet, which in turn was overtaken by Mobile, the VR industry could be even bigger.



Sliver.tv Integrated At ESL One New York (Photo: ESL)

A few companies are trying to make this happen:

  • VREAL: Raised $3.5M in Nov 2015 to become the "Twitch for VR". Focused on a true VR experience and not 2D viewing or AR.
  • SLIVER.tv: Raised $6.2M in Aug 2016. Sliver.tv is focused on taking existing 2D eSports content and transforming it for VR or 360 Video.
  • Boom.tv: Raised $3.2M in Dec 2016. (Edit: Currently writing about them) Boom.tv takes the 3D data from the game and allows streamers to call up multi-angle replays for viewers in 2D - however that can also be exported into a VR headset.

VR rights for eSports tournaments are starting to get nabbed up. SLIVER.tv launched at ESL One New York last year and recently announced it has signed deals with ESL and Dreamhack to broadcast several events in 2017.

It’s the first big VR rights deal in eSports and I predict it will be another year at least before VR makes it into enough homes to matter to most consumers. But since we’ve entered a phase of locking in rights; long term stake are already being decided.



Various VR Devices (Photo: Google)

Usually the first question is if the audience is big enough to justify a lot of investment in a new technology. However, the hype may have gotten ahead of VR/AR.

(Edit: I asked a 200+ audience at a Gaming/eSports Conference in NYC during a panel who bought a VR device in 2016 and 2 people raised their hand)

Combining numbers posted by SuperData and my own research, there are roughly 6.5MM mobile-powered or tethered headsets out in the world and 85MM low-end models like Google Cardboard (though many of those have probably been gathering dust on bookshelves since they were assembled and tried out on day one).

Assuming a modest overlap of eSports fans and headset owners, there are potentially several million people positioned to watch an eSports event in VR right now - but a long way to match YouTube or Twitch's scale.

This will undoubtedly grow as big companies keep pouring money into new headsets and technology over the next few years.



DOTA2 In VR (Photo: Valve)

It's still early days and only a few examples have been shown.

SLIVER.tv streamed from ESL One and the experience was pretty decent from my experience. So far, the camera is stationary and the traditional broadcast stream is projected in 2D floating above the map. However, with a full field of vision, there is a lot of real estate to bring in useful and potential sponsorship opportunities within stats and digital elements to improve the viewing experience.

Valve showed off what VR viewing would look like in DOTA2 and can currently be viewed with an HTC Vive:

And at Key Arena during The International DOTA2 tournament, viewers saw the Athletes picking their players in AR:


Companies like NextVR have been working - and spending - heavily to secure VR Broadcast rights for traditional sports. Their biggest deal was made recently with the NBA which allows them to stream live NBA games in VR headsets to anyone with a NBA League Pass.

-Since almost all eSports content is Free (if it ain’t broke), I imagine most fans will take the chance to pick up a headset and watch their favorite teams in a more immersive way over the next year.


-Companies like Blizzard, Riot, Valve, Activision and EA will want to develop in-house solutions once the audience is big enough and making it a more appealing option for brand investment as well.

-I predict this will become a new platform for sponsorship dollars before the end of 2017. (Edit: We will see 1 Brand Deal related to eSports/VR this year)


"Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming."

Mark Zuckerberg, FaceBook Post, March 25, 2014