The growth of eSports competitions over the past few years has been tremendous, between multi-million dollar prize offerings, various partners emerging to sponsor events, and exposure on television. However, in order to see just how successful it’s become, one simply needs to roam the floor at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, where competition got a push in more ways than one.
Virtuix jumped into the fray by hosting an eSports tournament using virtual reality technology. Utilizing the game Omni Arena, the company put together four different HTC Vive units, enabling players to pick up a replica gun and battle for supremacy in multiplayer match-ups. It believes that is unique treadmill technology will put the “sports” factor into eSports.
Now players will need to be physically fit and trained in addition to being a strong gamer, said Jan Goetgeluk, CEO of Virtuix. We feel that bringing eSports and VR gaming out of the chair and adding an active physical component creates an extra layer of excitement for both competitors and spectators. The faster you run on the Omni, the faster you will move in the game.
The competition has drawn over 100 players across various 30 minute sessions. It will continue to explore options, including talking to eSports leagues, such as ESL, Major League Gaming (which was purchased by Activision this past week) and the ESWC.
New Gear For a New Age
New peripherals also took focus at CES this week, with a number of companies introducing headphones, keyboards and other items with an emphasis on eSports. Thermaltake introduced its new Tt eSports gear line-up, including the impressive Challenger Prime RGB Membrane Gaming Combo.
Not to be outdone, Monster partnered with eSports veteran Jonathan “Fatal1ity” Wendel to introduce a new line of devices specifically tailor made for e-athletes, including the FXM 100 and FXM 200 headsets, which retail for $70 to $100 respectively. It should go on sale sometime this year.
Social media also got an eSports push this week, with a number of e-athletes attending CES and reporting on technical marvels, as well as taking part in discussions regarding eSports. Miss Harvey, an established pro in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive arena, has been reporting all week from the show floor, posting pictures and videos to keep fans informed.
Inside the NBA Teams Up With eSports
Perhaps the biggest eSports related news that came from the Consumer Electronics Show involves Turner Broadcasting. The company is no stranger to the world of eSports, since it will be airing a Counter-Strike based competition show on TBS later this year. However, it decided to go the extra mile, bringing its entire crew from Inside the NBA to discuss eSports.
The discussion was very lighthearted, although former basketball player (and Inside the NBA host) Shaquille O’Neal already spoke supportively for eSports before the showcase. “I heard the top guy say that the eLeague is the second biggest sport in the world today,” he said.
He also made it clear that, despite what some at ESPN may have thought in the past, “eSports is a sport.” Highlights from that conference, including Joe Ravitch and Dallas Mavericks owner (and eSports investor) Mark Cuban, can be found here.
ESports has already found tremendous growth in its own right, but it’s great to see it get exposure at CES. Between the introduction of new gadgets, a brave new idea for eSports competition (some involving virtual reality) and even a few celebs join in to support its exposure. Now the only question is how much bigger that exposure will get with forthcoming events, such as the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.