Looking at the popularity of eSports today, some would wrongly assume that audiences’ obsession with “faster” and “newer” would mean that retro games are heading towards extinction. However, that’s a misconception. Rather, it is as if dinosaurs are now living side by side with their modern-day alligator descendants. eSports have arguable been in existence for decades, although it is only within the last decade or so that they have truly entered the limelight.
— Gamer.nl (@GamerNL) March 23, 2017
The key to transforming retro games into eSports? Streaming. Gaming competitions had been held since the 1970s, but these were predominantly small-scale with the prizes only a fraction of the substantial monetary rewards up for grabs today. For example, one of the first records of organised competitive gaming was October 1972, when twenty-four students competed in the “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics” at Stanford’s Artifical Intelligence (AI) Laboratory, playing “SPACEWAR”. Therefore, when the concept of streaming came into the picture, that is when eSports truly grew and began to be recognised by a larger audience. However, the type of streaming made all the difference to when eSports would really hit the big-time. The 1990s saw the introduction of TV programmes broadcasting eSports (for example, the Australian game show “A*mazing”) and the prolific first-person shooter science fiction game Halo streamed a tournament on television in the early 2000s. Yet eSports as we know it still did not truly kick off. This is because television streaming was not enough to popularise eSports for the masses. The breakthrough for eSports came with the introduction of media platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.
As eSports have gained popularity, newer games such as League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Hearthstone have become a major part of the eSports scene and have made eSports bigger than ever, yet despite this, the retro games that eSports first started with are still a large component of the virtual sport. StarCraft is credited with being the first video game to bring streaming of competitive gaming to a large audience base. Released in 1998, StarCraft: Brood War proved particularly popular in South Korea, followed twelve years later by the launch of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty in 2010. It was StarCraft II that predominantly raised the profile of video streaming platform Twitch.tv (established in 2011). Since then, streaming on Twitch.tv and YouTube Videos has made eSports accessible to millions of people. Other retro games that have remained part of eSports include Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros, with their newest evolutions in the forms of Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Super Smash Bros Melee having been played in the 2017 annual eSports fighting game event Evolution Championship Series.
— Arclegger @ DHATL (@Arclegger) July 17, 2017
One thing is for sure: eSports are still evolving. Games are being added, new players and teams are emerging, there is an ever-increasing viewership, and the monetary market for eSports keeps growing with regards to prize money for both competitors and in eSports betting. eSports is expected to be worth $1.5billion in revenues by 2020. The benefit of eSports is that it opens opportunities for a lot more people, including players, spectators, and even bettors. Betting on these tournaments is a welcome possibility by many pre-existing eSports fans as well as bettors of traditional sports, and information on teams, statistics and dates can be gained if you visit eSports betting hubs like Master Mazuma, which also offers guides and tips on following the action.
Meanwhile, retro gaming in its original form is still very much beloved in the modern day. For instance, the Nintendo Entertainment System was modified in 2008 to contain a retro gaming Windows XP PC containing GameEx emulator, N64, NES and SNES games. Therefore, while eSports is a strong presence within the gaming community and looks to continue growing, retro games also do not seem likely to disappear from the gaming world anytime soon. We may have the evolutions of retro games in eSports, but why not live in an exciting world of both crocodiles and dinosaurs?
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