Along with the many other changes that the digital revolution has brought about, it has also transformed game playing from being predominantly a leisure activity into a real money-making opportunity. This isn’t just a small-scale business as the most successful player can make tens of thousands of dollars per tournament.
One of the biggest areas to emerge in recent years has been eSports. These huge tournaments have reached such a level of professionalism that there have even been moves to get the key players recognized as professional athletes.
Anyone can see that eSports have come a long, long way since the first properly organized video games tournament took place in California’s Stanford University back in 1972. In this tournament, the contestant played the simplest of video games called Spacewar for the grand first prize of a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
As games grew more complex and involved, the size of the tournaments gradually increased and eight years later in 1980 Atari held a Space Invaders competition that attracted 10,000 entrants. However, the emergence of the Internet in the 1990 served as the true birth of eSports with South Korea leading the way. Why South Korea? Well, for a number of reasons. Following the Asian financial crisis of the mid 90s, the government there invested heavily in Internet and broadband technologies. This move combined with the country’s many Internet cafes called PC Bangs, helped eSports thrive and gradually spread to the rest of the world.
Today the professionalism of eSports is growing quickly and there are even organized teams like Fnatic and SK Gaming competing in tournaments worldwide. The sums involved are also huge. In 2015, it was estimated that eSports generated revenue of around $750 million and there are predictions that by 2018 this figure will be approaching $2 billion.
Another area of gaming that many people are starting to earn huge rewards from is through online poker tournaments. These tournaments have been made possible by the emergence of digital technology which allows players from all around the world to compete free of time zones and geographical constraints. This global reach means that it’s no surprise that the leading players are able to win millions of dollars in prize money.
The first online poker site is generally have agreed to have been set up in 1998 in the US and although restrictions imposed by the government have since keep it out of that country, now it’s thriving in the rest of the world. Official figures released by the UK Gambling Commission showed that between April 2014 and March 2015, the online poker market was worth £36.7 million in the UK alone.
Slots are another big cash cow for online casinos. The same UKGC report showed they had raised £532.5 million over the same period as well as being popular with gamers looking for a quick win. Even though they are predominantly games of luck, there are an increasing number of online guides committed to maximizing slots payouts.
As for the future of online gaming, it’s virtual reality that has got the industry abuzz at the moment. The prospect of combining all the benefits of the online environment along with an authentic casino experience is certainly a very appealing prospect for both gaming organizations and players alike.
So whichever side you’re on, it’s an exciting time to be involved in the world of online gaming. A world filled with new surprises around every corner.