Is ‘freemium’ the way to go?

Anticipating possible shifts in gaming, considering e-sports

By Author  |  Published: 31st Aug 2019  9:31 pm
Game on

The last month in gaming has been a phenomenal one for e-sports. For the uninitiated, e-sports is when elite level of gamers participate in competitions against the best in the world for ever-increasing prize-pools. Fortnite and Dota2 have dominated most gaming news in this regard as Kyle Bugha Giersdorf was announced the world champion for Fortnite and team OG won the International championship for Dota 2. While the rise of e-sports and pro-gaming have been well-documented, this article explores possible ways that the trend will shape gaming as an activity for the next generation.

Ever-increasing popularity

The prize pool for Fortnite and Dota 2’s world championships was over $30 million each. Both the events were conducted in hallowed spaces, Fortnite at the prestigious Arthur Ashe stadium (home of the on-going US Open) and Dota 2 at the Mercedes-Benz arena in Shanghai. With an ever-growing online audience and jam-packed stadia, the steady march of e-sports going mainstream seems to be gathering momentum and may soon rival traditional sports events.

E-sports training

A recent trend that has begun to show considerable traction, development of specific programmes that allow for casual players to gather the requisite skills in order to improve as a player have become common. In Europe, parents have enrolled their children in academies that train pro-gamers and globally platforms like Udemy have roped in world class players to develop specific curricula for games like League of Legends. The allure of pro-gaming as a career choice will be difficult to ignore.

Business of making games

If there is one thing that e-sports has made increasingly evident, it is the fact that free games are the ones that are most likely to succeed as games of choice. With no barriers of entry to newer players and limited requirements in terms of hardware, the ‘casual’ free games have suddenly become the most hardcore. As other avenues of monetisation emerge, the motivations for developers to invest in traditional flagship games are likely to waver as the shift from games being a product to a service becomes increasingly prevalent.

Games and fun

Making games is a tricky business, especially when you try to identify unique elements that imbue the overall experience with magic and fun. Most new game developers may be tempted to approach game design to appease elite players and sacrifice the concerns of the casual, while it is the casual that give the game the popularity to begin with. Developers will have to carefully manage the balance in order to make successful games.

E-sports and pro-gaming are facets of gaming culture that are here to stay. However, as they become increasingly mainstream, the possibility of defining gaming as a leisure activity and an act of fun seems difficult as it transitions into a serious business.

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