Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Josh Mahan
Did you know that the global Esports market is valued at $1.38 billion? Many people are confused when they see sold-out stadiums with people all screaming at a computer screen. So how did we get here?
If you’re curious about the answer to this question, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll break down the evolution of Esports gaming history.
To do this, we’ll walk you through each decade and how things have changed. That way, you get a complete picture of how the industry transformed into today’s cash machine. Let’s get started!
Esports in the 1950s to the 1970s
Officially, the first competitive game was released in 1958. No, it wasn’t pong, but it was something similar game known as Tennis for Two. As the newly formed video game industry entered the 1960s, they began creating themed games.
Along with these themes, scores were added. With the possibility of a high score, it opened up the market for tournaments. The popular game “Spacewar!” was one with a match following. During the 1970s, video game tournaments grew from something performed at a university to a worldwide phenomenon.
There are several factors that explain this. First, the Magnavox Odyssey allowed people to play video games while plugged into their television. This technology would go on to make video games much more widely available.
Next, arcade consoles began to turn up around this time. This community setting for video games encouraged a competitive environment to reach a specific high score.
Lastly, in 1978 Atari held the first official international Esports tournament. The game? Atari’s football title was played.
Esports in the 1980s
Tournaments continued into the 1980s, with new games taking the spotlight. Some notable ones include Donkey Kong, Twin Galaxies, and Pacman. However, the defining Esports event of the 1980s was the first Space Invaders Championship.
More than 10,000 players participated in the event. The first instance of an online game occurring between multiple players happened in 1988 with the Netrek.
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Esports in the 1990s
The 1990s saw a boom in new technology and video games. It’s genuinely one of the golden eras of video games, with popular titles coming out, including:
- Super Mario Bros
- Age of Empires
All of these video games contributed to the rise of Esports as we know it. However, it was amplified by the increasingly widespread nature of the internet. All of a sudden, Esports was spreading to the furthest reaches of the world.
New genres and new accessibility meant that more people were becoming gamers. As such, interest in Esports began to rise considerably.
Esports in the 2000s
The 2000s were ruled by the MOBA game Defense of the Ancients (or DotA). Most of the gaming took the place of PC, but there were some exceptions. For example, Halo 2 on the Xbox was one such popular title.
With a large amount of video game companies participating, the rewards for Esports tournaments increased. Soon, it was common to see them offering prices worth one million dollars or more.
There’s no denying that the technology surrounding video games has gotten more complicated as the years roll on. Read these tech tips for staying on top of the changing landscape.
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Esports in the 2010s
There were lots of important developments for Esports in the 2010s. First, in 2011 streaming platform, Twitch came along. Twitch allows players to watch their favorite streamers or live video game tournaments.
It also popularized the use of LED displays with computers. Another change was corporate sponsorship. Corporations began to take notice of Esport’s success. The result? Everyone from food to telephone companies began sponsoring tournaments.
New games also came along. Perhaps the most important in the MOBA game League of Legends (or LoL). League of Legends went on to become the most-played game in the world, with some of the most attended tournaments in existence.
New games also emerged, but the overall list remained relatively short for big-ticket Esports. Some new ones include Call of Duty titles, DOTA 2, FIFA titles, and Starcraft II.
By the decade’s end, Fortnite emerged as the clear winner of the famous market for battle royale games. These days there are whole tournaments surrounding Fortnite that are gaining massive popularity.
The Future of Esports
What lies beyond for Esports in the 2020s and beyond? Well, if its current growth rate is any indication, the rise of Esports isn’t likely to end anytime soon. Ideally, Esports will eventually reach an older generation of viewers.
One Goldman Sachs report found that 79% of Esports viewers are under thirty-five. If the industry can find a way to appeal to older viewers, it would really help with growth. In the future, we can expect new video game titles to become Esports staples.
In many cases, there might also be new technology at play. For example, virtual reality is already entering the world of gaming. But in the future, we can expect this immersive technology to merge with video games in increasingly interesting ways.
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Why Esports Are Important
Esports are important because they represent a beautiful convergence of culture, competition, and technology. At this point, it’s also a billion-dollar industry that’s only expected to get more popular.
If you’re interested in investing in Esports infrastructure, either as a tournament host or in some other capacity, you’ll need the right technology. This guide will help you find some of the best audio/visual companies to help you get properly set up.