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Will Amazon and Facebook be successful players in the gaming and eSports industry?

By Patrick Souillere, Global eSports and Gaming Marketing Manager at Ballistix

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The gaming industry has seen a dramatic change over the past decade. Gaming livestreamers such as Ninja have reached worldwide fame, eSports tournaments are played around the world, and universities now offer courses on eSports and the gaming industry. eSports has quickly become one of the fastest growing sports in the world, attracting more than 6.5 million people in the UK alone. Even mainstream superstars like Drake dabble in gaming every now and then. Gaming has been completely reinvented from a nerdy kid’s hobby to a mainstream phenomenon – and its taking the world by storm both commercially and professionally.


So, when and how did gaming get so popular? And what can we expect from the gaming industry in the near future?  


The gaming evolution

Like many other mainstream tech innovations of the 21st century, the ability to connect with each other globally through the internet is one of the reasons gaming has experienced such a surge in popularity; in fact, PwC predicts that the market will grow by 6.7% in the next 5 years and be worth an estimated £5bn. People have become much more accessible and aware of what trends are taking off in this connected world, meaning that hobbies like gaming have become a lot easier to pick up and turn into a profession. You can now learn how to game through YouTube®, find someone to play with through Xbox Live®, show off your skills on Twitch, and before you know it, be able form your own eSports team and play professionally.


But whilst it seems like gamers are spoilt for choice when it comes to executing their gaming skills online, the gaming world is so large and diverse that most of the time, gamers will often migrate to one platform or tournament service because it is suited to their needs. For example, Starcraft® has a completely different gameplay, culture, and environment as compared to LoL, but at the moment there’s not a service that can accommodate the needs of both sets of players. While gaming communities often stick to the platform that works best for them, they also aren’t shy when it comes to trying out new things. You only need to look at the hype around a new game release. Gamers often compete with one another to see who can complete the game first and they love it when something innovative and different comes onto the scene. And while there are a variety of great services for tournaments, none of the platforms have really hit it out of the park. There’s not one service that is suitable for all types of games and users.


However, two of the biggest tech companies have recently attempted to break through the noise and launch their own platforms for the gaming and eSports industry.


The tech company takeover


Recently, Facebook® announced a new streaming platform which allows gamers to live-stream their gameplay. Sounds familiar, right? Twitch has already developed a similar successful streaming platform, so why does it seem like Facebook is trying to reinvent the wheel here? Gamers don’t want another Twitch-like platform when they already have one, but the Facebook database is a powerful weapon that Twitch can’t match and that’s where the problem lies. If Facebook can engage its existing audience into using this new platform – as we’ve seen recently with Instagram stories, they could potentially have something big here.


Meanwhile, Amazon® has announced a new online tournament service, GameOn, which allows game developers to add eSports-like competition into games. The gaming and eSports market isn’t a new venture for Amazon. In fact, back in 2014 they acquired Twitch, which turned out to be a successful investment for them (unless Facebook takes over, of course), so we know they have the resources to pull-off another eSports platform. However, Amazon faces the same problem as Facebook: there are already too many online gaming tournament services in the market to keep up with, so what’s going to set them apart from the rest? To really impress the gaming community, these companies will have to be innovative with the kind of features they roll out in their services and go beyond establishing just another tournament or streaming service that could well get lost in the mix.


Hopes are high with Amazon and Facebook’s involvement in the eSports and gaming market, but it might be better to keep expectations low for now.  Big organisations have no problem cutting under-performing projects if they don’t hit it off, and if Amazon and Facebook don’t make this work, these platforms could disappear as fast as they showed up. We’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on how these ventures play out and whether the big tech companies can make their mark in the gaming and eSports arena.