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2/26/2024

The Future of eSports: Why Pro Gamers are Embracing Blockchain Gaming

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TL;DR

Gaming is more popular than ever, overtaking both the TV, and music industries combined. 

Meanwhile, eSports has grown from small LAN tournaments to now selling out entire stadiums. Events like Dota’s “The International” attract millions of viewers, while top teams compete for prize pools in the tens of millions. This was completely unheard of just a mere decade ago. 

However, issues around transparency, profit sharing, and ownership have plagued the scene. Pro gamers devote huge amounts of time honing their skills to compete, while tournament organizers and developers reap most of the profits. 

Blockchain gaming addresses this with new business models that empower players and provide fair rewards. As blockchain gaming investments top $2 billion in 2022 alone, eSports is now starting to integrate web3 concepts.

Can blockchain finally bring fairness to eSports? 

We believe so, and here are 4 ways how.

1. Blockchain technology enables true ownership of in-game items

Gamers have always valued rare in-game items but true digital asset ownership has ultimately resided with game publishers. Publishers decide what can be traded or sold or even shut down game servers, like how Blizzard has shut down World of Warcraft servers in China, robbing players of their hard-earned in-game items. 

Blockchain fixes this problem by tokenizing in-game items through NFTs, giving true ownership to players. 

2. Blockchain technology can boost fan loyalty in eSports 

Blockchain is the next upgrade to fan loyalty and engagement platforms. 

Digital memorabilia on a blockchain can be verified publicly by anyone. This helps the most loyal fans show off their dedication and trade legitimate memorabilia with other fans. 

With blockchain technology, different interactions can be independently verified by other fans, such as sharing content or purchasing merchandise. This enhances the fan experience and provides valuable data to sponsors, increasing their return on investment.

3. Blockchain technology introduces new fundraising avenues for eSports teams and events

Successful games mean huge profits for publishers. But these profits don’t always trickle down to pro gamers.

Pro players play a huge part in growing and retaining audiences. They fill the stadium seats at huge tournaments, provide entertainment to gamers, and create dramatic events that help the gaming community bond. 

Blockchain enables the tokenization of esports teams and athletes. It lets fans invest directly in teams and events, while tokenized contracts can encode revenue shares for players.

Allowing public investment through token purchases opens up new fundraising opportunities. This allows fans to participate in their favorite teams' success financially.

4. Blockchain technology makes gaming odds and eSports tournament splits transparent 

Mckinsey has termed Gen Z to be the “True Gen”, the search for the truth as the root of all Gen Z’s behavior. 

With Gen Z gamers becoming the majority in competitive gaming, there is a strong cultural alignment between this demographic and the decentralized, ownership-focused value proposition of crypto gaming. 

Smart contracts bring transparency around loot box percentages, tournament prize splits, and more by encoding rules in auditable code.

ESports can build stronger engagement with their next-generation user base by embracing concepts like digital asset ownership and transparent ecosystems.

How blockchain gaming is gaining traction in eSports 

Esports teams and pro players are actively embracing blockchain. Let's explore three such examples.

Cloud9 is emerging as a major player in blockchain gaming

Poster advertising the STRATUS x Axie tournament

 

The renowned North American esports organization Cloud9 has partnered with the leading blockchain game, Axie Infinity, to host the STRATUS x Axie tournament on 4th Jan 2023.

STRATUS is Cloud9’s membership for superfans. Fans get insider access and special merchandise by being part of STRATUS. In this event, fans got the chance to play with Cloud9’s players in a tournament 

Axie made serious waves as an early gaming leader in the blockchain space, racking up over $1.3 billion in NFT sales in 2021.

The partnership between both powerhouses highlights the growing connection between traditional gaming and blockchain technology.

Gaimin Gladiators sees blockchain as the new frontier for eSports

Gaimin Gladiators, a rising eSports team established in 2022 and already a winner of major tournaments like the ESL One Berlin Major, is embracing blockchain technology as a key development in eSports. 

Joseph Turner, co-founder and Chief of Esports at Gaimin, expressed in an interview his belief that Web3 games will soon become standard in the gaming world. 

He stated, “We want to remain at the forefront of the industry, and frankly, the way game development is going these days, I do not see a position where Web3 titles do not become the norm for gamers.

Similarly, Erik “Tofu” Engel, a professional Dota 2 player with Gaimin, agrees with this perspective. Engel sees blockchain gaming as an emerging field that he is eager to delve into more deeply, recognizing its potential to enhance and reward the gaming experience. 

As eSports continues to evolve with new teams joining the scene, the interest in Web3 titles is likely to grow significantly.

Growing prize pools in blockchain gaming to attract top eSports talent

Axie Classic (v2) World Championship advert showing a $1 million prize pool

In 2022, the Axie Classic (v2) World Championship had a staggering $1 million prize pool.

This amount is reminiscent of the first "The International" tournament hosted by Valve in XXXX, which also had a $1 million prize pool. That event was a landmark in the history of competitive, free-to-play games, setting a new standard for the industry. 

As blockchain gaming continues to host large-scale tournaments with substantial prizes, we expect a rise in the number of professional players attracted to this growing field.

Gods Unchained tournament poster

Gods Unchained, a popular blockchain-based TCG (trading card game) on the Epic Games Store, is seeing growth in its competitive gaming scene. 

There has been an increase in community-organized tournaments and competitions for Gods Unchained, indicating rising interest among players to test their skills against each other at a high level. 

The rise of a more robust competitive environment around Gods Unchained signals that blockchain games not only have breakout potential in the mainstream market but also can foster engaged player communities that drive the development of structured eSports-like ecosystems. 

As the adoption of competitive titles accelerates, we expect further validation of blockchain's ability to support compelling competitive gaming formats.

The Future of eSports is on Immutable: Bringing Scalability To Blockchain Games

The future of eSports will be inherently linked with blockchain because blockchain enables: 

  • true digital ownership of in-game items through NFTs, allowing players and fans to trade securely
  • increased fan loyalty by offering a more engaging experience, enabling fans to collect provable digital memorabilia 
  • innovative funding avenues for teams and events through tokenized fan contributions and transparent revenue splits
  • full transparency to gaming odds and eSports tournament payouts via public ledgers, ensuring fairness. 

Together these decentralization capabilities solve several problems in competitive gaming relating to ownership, trust, and revenue.

However competitive gaming requires blockchain infrastructure that can scale. 

In the past, congestion issues have throttled networks and ratcheted up gas fees which frustrated players and suppressed the potential of competitive blockchain gaming

Immutable is solving these issues to make eSports on the blockchain a reality. 

Immutable is a global leader in web3 gaming on a mission to bring digital ownership to every player by making it safe and easy to build great web3 games.

Immutable was the first gaming platform to deliver a zero-knowledge (zk) scaling solution to the Ethereum community and provides developers with multiple zk-based scaling options, including Immutable X, a rollup based on StarkWare technology, and Immutable zkEVM, powered by Polygon.

As blockchain gaming continues to grow, Immutable is ready to propel eSports into a new era of exponential growth, setting the stage for an unprecedented competitive gaming experience.

For more information, please visit: https://www.immutable.com/

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