The Billion Dollar Esports Business Might Be a Bubble

Starcraft tournaments fill stadiums and people love to watch Overwatch tournaments on Twitch. Over the last decade, esports has grown into what its supporters call a billion dollar business. But that evaluation might be overblown.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I’ve been really enjoying this series. Good discussions.

I played Heroes of the Storm for a couple of years pretty casually. It’s a really fun game. Fluid strategic play allowing for a delightfully varied range of characters. Lots of skirmishing and all out scrapping right from the early game, aided by the map objectives, and much shorter games than your LoLs or Dotas.

I loved the e-sport part of it, which surprised me. It’s the first game to get me like that. The time and effort Blizzard put into making a good show helped a lot, but it was always a fun game to watch, and the potential for skillful and dramatic play was really there at the highest level. Phenomenal in house casters, too, and a great yearly college tournament as a way of finding new talent in players and casters. The finals at Blizzcon has some of the best matches of… anything I’ve watched in my life.

The end was so strange and painful. Reddit was becoming aware that the pros hadn’t been told how next year’s season was going to be run, and after a couple of weeks of silence from Blizzard they just dropped the whole thing, leaving their players with basically nothing. They also released this letter that had this very negative tone- it really sounded like development was being entirely wound down.

Even more oddly, this wasn’t true. There was a team that would keep the game going. While new characters would be released much less frequently, otherwise this was actually a boon to the game. Freed of the necessity to balance around a pro scene that could pull strats that aren’t possible outside of these highly coordinated teams the developers were freed to balance around the needs and wishes of the community instead. The general feeling amongst those who stuck around was that this was the game at its best.

I drifted away not long after the end of e-sport support- I was about done anyway. So I don’t really know how the game is doing in terms of player base these days, although I know there are community organized leagues.

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