Gaming is serious business. What was once a nascent industry pioneered by computer scientists in the 1960s, video games have now permeated every aspect of modern life, with virtual characters such as Sonic and Pikachu becoming household names recognized the world over.
It’s little wonder then that gamers have typically been responsible for the adoption of new emergent technologies. An example of this is virtual simulation technology, initially developed for gaming, which has since found its way into seriously hardcore military simulation scenarios.
With advancements in technology-driven mainly by gamers insatiable desire for ever more realistic gaming and the decreasing price of gaming systems, the growth of gaming isn’t showing signs of slowing any time soon.
Quite the opposite, the gaming industry is projected to be worth $180 billion by 2021, and already attracts over 2.5 billion gamers, around 30% of the entire human population.
Likewise, the unstoppable rise of eSports, live virtual tournaments centered around video games, means certain areas of gaming are leaving their ‘just-for-fun’ attitudes behind, becoming seriously competitive spectator sports.
So, what happens when the worlds of eSports and the blockchain industry, with its devoted followers, collide? First, let’s find out why eSports has seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years.
The Burgeoning eSports Industry
Short for ‘electronic sports,’ eSports is expected to grow into a $1 billion industry during 2019, and by 2020 is projected to have viewership exceeding that of Major League Baseball. With such a massive viewership, gaming superstar personalities are emerging from the eSports industry, who are contributing enormously to its growth through their online streaming channels.
One such star is Tyler Blevins, a 26-year-old streamer from the U.S., who has amassed over 12 million followers via Twitch and YouTube, becoming one of the most famous online gamers, mainly by playing the immensely popular game ‘Fortnite.’ Just like in traditional sports, fans follow their favorite eSports personalities religiously.
However, eSports’ rapid growth and popularity have brought with it some pain points, and there are still significant barriers to widespread adoption and continued growth which need to be overcome.
One of the biggest hurdles is the establishment of professional eSports teams. Although there’s a vast number of semi-professional players worldwide, finding and tracking these players’ progress and ranking has remained difficult.
By comparison, there are just 100 professional teams for the most popular eSport game in the world, League of Legends; compared to some 300 thousand soccer teams worldwide, primarily due to the inability to track and contact exceptional eSports players.
Likewise, establishing contracts, bank accounts, coaches, and managers for eSports teams and players has also been a time consuming and expensive process.
To help realize the potential of eSports and grow the industry to rival traditional sports like soccer, the eSports industry needs to adopt new technologies to sustain its growth. This is where blockchain could offer an all-in-one solution.
Bringing Transparency to eSports
Blockchain has been widely promoted as a disruptive technology to the finance and banking industries, although so far, many experts agree that blockchain has failed to find its ‘killer app’, the use case which will lead to widespread adoption.
However, with gamers’ nature as early adopters of new technology, it might be gaming, not finance, which will open the floodgates for widespread blockchain adoption, and eSports is ideally placed to benefit from blockchain.
One early eSports pioneer implementing blockchain solutions is DreamTeam, an all-in-one platform which enables talented players to find teammates, use AI to improve their gaming skills, manage teams, and earn prize money on competitions.
Launched in 2017 by eSports industry veteran Alexander Kokhanovskyy, the DreamTeam platform already boasts 1.3 million individual users. Described as the ‘Airbnb of the eSports industry,’ DreamTeam is a third-party mediator between solo gamers, sponsors, and professional competitions.
As gamers often play from the comfort of their homes, and not in stadiums where they may be spotted by talent scouts, The DreamTeam platform offers players a chance to apply to professional, semi-professional or amateur eSports teams with a more than 60% chance of success, get lucrative sponsorship deals, receive prize money, and set their salary – all through one intuitive platform.
To facilitate transactions on the DreamTeam platform, the team have launched the DREAM token, an Ethereum-based utility token used for payments within the platform. Users who transact in DREAM will receive price benefits, and additionally, payments made in DREAM tokens eliminate the fees involved in currency conversion.
Blockchain’s immutable nature could also prevent players from being dishonest about their gaming statistics, which is crucial to the success of eSports teams.
The Future Looks Bright for Both eSports and Blockchain
It’s clear blockchain and eSports have a lot to offer each other. The growing eSports industry could provide a huge number of users for blockchain technology, and a new proven use case.
Likewise, blockchain’s decentralized nature makes it the perfect solution to relieving eSports pain points, as eSports players are globally distributed, interact almost exclusively over the internet, and traditionally have difficulty locating other players to professionally team up with.