Skillz Blog

Want to Get Into eSports? Here’s How!

When you think of eSports, what’s the first image that comes to mind? You might be picturing a massive stadium, filled with enormous screens and excited spectators cheering for elite players competing to win brand-sponsored prize pools. If this is what you’re thinking, you aren’t wrong. While this accurately describes a professional eSports competition, it does not cover the breadth of what defines an eSport.

For the average game developer, creating the next “Dota” or “League of Legends” seems like an unattainable feat, since it typically requires a multitude of resources and a sizable marketing budget. In other words, there can be a number of tough barriers to entry in the hardcore gaming space. This may seem discouraging, but in reality, these types of eSports only capture the attention of a specific player demographic.

Imagine how large the eSports industry is as a whole if you consider an eSports landscape that isn’t solely limited to hardcore gamers and doesn’t only include PC and console games. By looking at the global market with this lens, you’ll see that the eSports industry encompasses the world’s 2.6 billion mobile gamers, which enjoy a wide range of different content. In fact, certain popular mobile gaming genres considered to be more “casual” (such as puzzles, match-threes, etc.) showed the most significant growth in 2018, and this trend shows no signs of slowing. From a player’s perspective, these categories require very little cost to play and provide a larger network of competitors, whereas PC and console games in genres such as FPS and MOBA may require players to purchase extra equipment, in addition to the games themselves.

Source: AppsFlyer

With mobile gaming on the rise, there is an incredible market opportunity for both iOS and Android mobile game developers to capture the attention of the billions of gamers eager to compete for glory and prizes. So, for any game developer that is wondering how to get into eSports, the first step in answering this question is to accurately understand the variety of games that are considered eSports.

What Type of Game is Considered an eSport?

This concept can be explained by looking at the core components of any sport. Let’s consider the different types of competitions available, as well as the players, that participate in golf.

At the top of the pyramid, you’ll see brand-sponsored competitions. This is the top 1% of tournaments where professional athletes compete. In this scenario, sporting events are televised for millions of viewers to watch, and the majority of the awarded prizes come from sponsors. The player funded portion of the pyramid consists of amateur golfers, who compete in something like a country club tournament for small prize amounts funded by their own entry fees. Finally, you have the casual category: novice golfers who play for the thrill of the game.

Not only does this analogy speak to the differing competition types within both offline sports and eSports, but it also illustrates how a game evolves over time. That is, when you’re creating a new sport (or eSport), you can’t expect to immediately run brand-sponsored tournaments with professional players. You must first grow your player base, with the majority of players falling into the lowest, most common rung of the aforementioned pyramid. A smaller percentage will fall into the player category, and eventually, you will begin to see the top level of professional players emerge.

Now you have an understanding of what defines an eSport, but may still be wondering how to actually create one. The first step in creating an eSport is to identify the players that you’re looking to attract, in order to strategically make a game that is engaging and fun for your target demographic.

Once you’ve identified your player demographic, developed the game concept, and started with game design, then it’s critical to incorporate competitive elements into the player experience. The reason for this? No game can be considered an eSport without being competitive in nature.

So game developers should not only be asking “How do I get into eSports?” but also “How do I get into competitive gaming?”

How to Get Into Competitive Gaming

First, your game needs to be skill-based. Like any sport, a game should provide the player with the opportunity to improve their skills over time; this is what incentivizes users to keep coming back. In order to facilitate this type of player behavior, you need a competitive virtual hub or physical location where players can compete. This competitive hub needs to offer:

  • The ability for players to compete against other players of equal skill
  • The option to enter the types of matches that are best suited for them (free vs. cash, head-to-head vs. bracketed tournaments, etc.)
  • Games that are fair and free of cheating/fraud

Lastly, you should have a method to attract players to your game. This is achieved through smart organic and/or paid player acquisition efforts. For more insights on attracting users, check out our webinar recording titled “Player Acquisition on a Shoestring Budget.”  

Once you’ve created a competitive game, you’re well on your way to having a full-fledged eSport consisting of professional players, live-streamed tournaments, and spectators. If you’re interested in seeing how Skillz can help your game enter the world of mobile eSports, check out developers.skillz.com and see how our easy-to-integrate SDK powers thousands of mobile eSports.