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What makes esports games popular?


Esports is a combination of competitive sports and online experience. As we continue to shift towards the digital way, we could see how esports could further expand its territory. But today, what was once a fun idea to make online games competitive garnered millions of fans. What exactly makes esports different from the rest?

In this article, we tackle the things that make esports games popular.


Esports, also called “electronic sports”, is a platform that turns online gaming into a sport. You can imagine watching your favorite football leagues online, seeing the same hype. It offers the same competitive style which makes it different from plain online games. Then on the other hand, all of it is done online, which makes it unique from traditional sports.

There’s no barrier of entry for a potential player. They can play on their own or build a team, then stream themselves to earn fame or money to compete. Since esports run online, the audience is made up of digital natives. And the games players play could be any competitive or ranking online game that shows a clear winner.

The industry grew so fast for its uniqueness and inclination to technology. In fact, it reached 285 million active viewers in 2017. Then in 2020, it grew to over 400 million participants. Most watchers and players come from Asia, North America, and Europe. But as esports continues to grow, we could expect different players and tournaments from all over the world.



The thing about esports growing so fast is not because it’s a whole new world for players. In fact, it uses the same popular online games people used to play years back before esports became a term. There’s League of Legends (LoL) or Dota, which are popular esports today, but they existed far ahead.

As mentioned, anyone could download and play this game as long as they have a PC. If they have a phone, they could download Mobile Legends:Bang Bang (MLBB), instead. They don’t have to pay for anything once they start playing. But over the time they keep playing, they could start earning both fame and money. They can do live streams or local competitions in their country.

So, esports having both a free-to-play and flexible model is part of its growth today. And as more people get into the industry, esports is becoming available in different devices. 



With esports games, there are very easy mechanics to follow. For example, in Mobile Legends, League of Legends, and Dota, you only have to destroy the opponent’s base. The process could be unique for each game and players, but the goal remains the same. People don’t keep playing these esports games because of the goal, but because of the process to achieve that goal. 

And since esports have more of a strategy-to-skill model for their gameplay, players are able to develop skills. There’s always room for growth because someone would be better than you, whether in the character you play, or the path you take in-game. 



One thing that’s uniform among esports games is the constant updates they give to their players. Whether it’s by season (usually a quarter of the year) or by popular demand, esports games don’t miss out. They keep players hooked because of the new characters, themes, and even rewards the more they play. 

It also serves as a sign that the developers are active in observing and adding to what players might want or need. For example, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang would update characters and their “power level” from time to time. In one season, Nana and Pharsa were too powerful with their passive attacks, so others found it unfair. So, MLBB developers took action to bring their passive attacks’ effects down.



Since esports is an industry that only keeps growing, it became surrounded with heavy investments. What did these investments look like? They became local and international tournaments, where well-renowned players would battle with each other for a prize. 

Some of the biggest international tournaments with the largest prize pools are:

  • LoL World Championship – $2 million prize pool and over four million viewers
  • The International – for Dota 2, with a prize pool of $40 million and over two million viewers
  • Overwatch World Cup – for Overwatch, with a prize pool of $200,000 and over one million viewers
  • Evolution Champion Series – multiple fighting esports event (Street Fighter, Tekken, etc.), with a prize pool of $200,000 and also over one million viewers

Leaderboards and in-game worldwide team ranks make up for the filter of who are becoming successful professionals in the game. The players who compete in larger and international tournaments are those who win local tournaments. As professionals, esports players can bring some pride to their country the same traditional sports do. 


Esports games have many channels that create a sense of belongingness for players. For one, players have public chats and in-game chats. The public chats serve as a way for players to find playmates for a round. Then the in-game chats serve as a way for them to communicate strategies. You can also go on a voice call while playing, which makes it easier to communicate.

But another interesting thing about esports is how it lets its players build communities out of the platform. 

There are open forums on Reddit, Quora, and other more sites where players can talk about the game–for better or for worse. The more they keep the site active, the more people get into it. For example, Valorant rose in popularity because of Facebook groups for every country, which grew so fast. 


All in all, there are many factors that make up for esports games’ popularity. The idea of it is not the most original, banking on already existing competitive online games. But it made a difference when it added a “sports” aspect to it–making it something that people would be so attached to over time. 

These esports games also made sure that it remains very accessible to anyone who downloads the game. They made sure it made the newcomer feel like they have the potential to be a great player. The mechanics remain the same, but the complexity in gameplay is what puts a team to the win. More so, these games follow suit on what players want. Thanks to the easy access to the community, these games only have to update in a consistent manner to keep winning their players’ hearts. 

And now, we’re looking at a billion-dollar worth industry expected to grow more over time. It’s interesting to keep seeing how much esports could go in the future.

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