The death of the capital S
A few weeks ago, the Associated Press announced that the next iteration of its Style Guide will no longer capitalize the “s” in esports. That’s right. According to the world’s most-used style manual, the debate over the spelling of esports is officially dead.
It may seem like a small issue, but it would be nice if we could actually put this one to bed once and for all. Confusion over the spelling reinforces a commonly held belief among outsiders that esports is still the wild wild west. Perhaps more importantly, capitalizing the “s” never made sense in the first place. Last time I checked, we don’t send eMails. So let’s finally say goodbye to eSports, e-sports, e-Sports, eSPORTS, and whatever other ridiculous spellings are out in the ether. Long live esports.
'Playerunknown's Battlegrounds' Sells 1 Million Copies In Under A Month, But Creator Wants Community To Take The Lead on Esports
The newly released hit “battle royale” shooter/survival game Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUB) has sold over a million copies since hitting the Steam store two weeks ago and is dominating competitor H1Z1 in viewership on Twitch. Game creator Brendan Greene has declared he has his eyes set on creating an esport for the game, but despite its astonishing rise in popularity Greene wants the PUB community to take the lead, preferring to grow the PUB esports ecosystem organically.
The esports industry has seen an explosion of interest and investment over the last eighteen months from traditional sports teams, media companies, and VC funds among others. This interest has not gone unnoticed by publishers, as seemingly every other multiplayer game these days seems to advertise its esports component or plans to set up esports content and leagues– even for games which haven’t yet been released to the public.
In the excited scramble to claim ground for esports, many have glossed over the fact that at the end of the day it’s the community which has been responsible for creating the foundation for every esport of note– from Smash Brothers and Rocket League to Counter-Strike and League of Legends– and all of them began with grassroots competition, independent of support from the publisher, endemic teams, or third party organizers.
There have been countless examples of parties attempting to “force” esports by artificially propping up a competitive scene before there’s sufficient community interest to sustain it, and few have ended well. To be clear, once a game has community support and naturally draws enough interest to support a competitive ecosystem then publishers, teams, and third party organizers have a crucial role to play in building on top of that foundation.
However, that foundation must be laid by the community.
It’s refreshing to see a game creator enjoy massive success at launch yet nonetheless maintain a sense of humility about the likelihood that an esport will successfully develop around their ecosystem. It’s not easy for developers in god mode while building a game to shift to a support role when nurturing an esport around the preferences of their player base rather than trying to dictate to fans what they’re going to like. While nothing is promised in esports, Greene’s self-awareness and preference to take a player-focused approach with its growth bode well for the game’s prospects.
University Of Utah Becomes First Power Five School To Offer Varsity Esports
The University of Utah has joined UC Irvine, Robert Morris University, and several other universities that now offer scholarships for competitive video gaming. The University of Utah will begin with partial scholarships and will focus on League of Legends initially, with plans to eventually expand to 4 games. Utah will become the first school in one of the Power 5 Conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) to offer an official varsity esports program.
While we have heard about esports scholarships and college tournaments for some time now, Utah’s foray into esports as an official varsity sport brings up a bevy of interesting issues. First how will Utah, a publicly-funded university, remain in compliance with Title IX and providing equal opportunity to men and women? Will there be a women’s LoL team and a men’s LoL team or will this be one of the first sports to have an integrated roster?
Utah may be the first school in a Power 5 conference to adopt a varsity esports team but they will certainly not be the last as the Pac-12 and Big Ten have both embraced amateur tournaments and feature teams in Heroes of the Dorm. As this ecosystem grows, how will ancillary programs develop to address this demand for top players? How will top talent be discovered and funneled to these esports schools? Will esports teams be widely developed within high schools or rely on an AAU model that operates separately? Since the minimum age to play in LCS is 17, I believe top talent will still skip college to join LCS teams (similar to the NBA pre-2005) but will teams value a player more who went through an established college program?
There are no answers to these questions yet but I am excited to see how the space will grow and develop. It will be interesting to see if traditional sports provides a blue print for this growth or if esports creates its own route.