E-sports entering into Virtual Reality


E-sports is predicted to be a billion dollar industry by 2017 and many large stake holders are trying to get into the market early.  Just recently the Philadelphia 76er have made an investment by purchasing two esports teams. Blizzard has laid out some comprehensive plans on a professional Overwatch league including player salary, regional teams, and a league system. Yet with all the hype, for all the sold out Staple Centers watching League of Legends, and for all the millions of investment, no company has cracked the exact code for making e-sports profitable.  Many different factors are cited for this lack of profitability.  Lack of sponsorship, confusion of what e-sports is, and lack of a casual audience are all reasons normally talked about.  Another problem cited is a lack of a quality of viewing experience.  Traditional sports try to get you into the action with flying cameras, crane cams, and sometimes even player mounted cameras.  Now virtual reality is trying to give you a better seat into e-sports.

Sliver.tv and VReal are both trying to give players a better experience through VR technology.  Sliver.tv is giving players a 360-video look to traditional games. This allows players to watch Counterstrike Go or League of Legends in 360 video.  This gives viewers the ability to look around the battlefield and control the camera. VReal also has debuted technology that allows players to stream and view VR games.  Since these games are not just traditional PC games, viewers are allowed full camera movement and can look around and move freely in the world while watching another player play.

Viewing e-sports in VR seems promising by giving audience members a more immersive experience.  However, while the technology is interesting, this does lead to the question of what is too much control? Viewers could miss a lot of the action while looking away.  They could also feel that the VR is not really enhancing the viewer experience. A fixed view, controlled by the streamer or commentators could really highlight exact plays and climactic moments.  At what point do we sacrifice viewer experience for viewer control? VR technology has yet to find its mainstream groove, and e-sports being on the horizon, it feels like this is new technology being chased by even newer technology.  Is VR the key to cracking esports?  Is the world ready for VR content on top of trying to make e-sports mainstream? Sliver.tv and VReal are both saying that they are ready.


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