Last year was another year of growth for eSports as the Dota 2 International gave away another record prize, Overwatch quickly established itself as a viable eSport, mobile gaming gained greater credence in the industry and renowned traditional sports clubs started adding eSports divisions.
This year, the industry is predicted to surpass $1 billion as the popularity of eSports continues to rise. And as we look ahead to 2017, there are a number of games which could emulate the success of Overwatch from last year. Here are some of them.
Quake Champions (Team Shooter, PC)
The Quake franchise is one of the initial first-person shooters that was so instrumental in elevating the genre to its current popularity.
The genre-defining first installment was released in 1996 and was one of the first that had 3D graphics. It became an instant success and the franchise grew over the following years as several more editions were released.
The franchise was put on hiatus in 2007 as the game started to lose popularity, forcing id Software to shift their focus to other titles. Now a comeback has been slated and despite the lack of a release date, it is expected that the game will be launched in 2017 (although it will have a long closed beta). While it will be tough to gain traction in the FPS genre straight away, a Quake title will certainly not go unnoticed by the gaming world.
Tekken 7 Fated Retribution (Fighting, PC/PS4/Xbox One)
Following the success of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, Tekken was the third key title in the fighting game genre. Tekken achieved this by becoming one of the first games to use 3D characters and arena modelling back in the mid-1990s.
Ten installments of the game have been released, the latest of which being Tekken 7 Fated Retribution. The title is already available on the arcade edition and the vanilla version has already established itself as an eSport, although its popularity has been rather limited. However, this year could be the game changer as a PC version is due to be released in the next few months, meaning a whole new audience could be introduced to the title.
Gigantic (Free-to-play MOBA and third-person shooter, PC/Xbox One)
Gigantic is an independent up-and-coming game that combines features of the MOBA and shooter genres, pitting two teams of five players against each other. The game was released last year and is still in its beta version, but the combination of genre, fast tempo, smooth combat and strategic gameplay all make it ripe for success.
Given the resemblance to Blizzard’s Overwatch in terms of gameplay and visual style, it is likely to steal some of its player base. Coupled with its free-to-play status, Gigantic becomes an even stronger candidate to break onto the eSports scene. However, the fact that it will not be available on Steam could hamper its growth. Only time will tell.
Gwent (Free-to-play collectible card game, PC/Xbox One/PS4)
Gwent is an interesting release as it originates from CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Gwent was a card game inside The Witcher III which could be accessed by the protagonist. A fun addition to the rich gameplay of The Witcher, its popularity within the game prompted the studio to develop a standalone title.
Probably the main competitor to Blizzard’s Hearthstone (which is an already established eSport) in the free-to-play collectible card game market, Gwent already has solid roots in The Witcher community. It is currently in beta stage and growing in popularity. Of course the new project has been developed beyond the simple concept of The Witcher in-game version as there is a greater variety of cards, more rounds and the game length has also been increased.
The game follows the basic premise of the genre, which is to win against your opponent by making the best out of your deck. Players draw cards and put them on a table. Cards are either a character type (having a quantified damage indicator) or have a spell/effect which affects the cards on the table in various ways. The winner is the person with the higher damage score at the end of the game.
Competing with Hearthstone for popularity will not be easy, but Gwent is a promising prospect.
2016 was a great year for eSports and the signs are that their popularity is only set to rise. There are other games on the rise like Mobile Legends, a solid proof that mobile gameplay is catching up, while the number of eSports across a range of genres is increasing, which can also include the upcoming competitive play of Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. The growth of eSports is also evidenced by the attention coming from established sports organizations throughout the world as clubs such as Ajax, Wolfsburg and Valencia have already added eSports players to their organizations. With all this in mind, 2017 promises to be yet another fantastic year for competitive gaming.