The year was 1980 when the first recognized esports competition, centered around the game ‘Space Invaders,’ took place. Fast forward to today, and the esports industry has exploded into a multi-billion-dollar arena with dedicated players, fans, and massive events all over the world. As the joystick days evolve into immersive VR competitions, let’s delve into the Top 10 esports games that are shaping this dynamic landscape today.
Developed and published by Valve Corporation, stands tall as one of the behemoths of the esports industry. From its inception as a mod for “Warcraft III” to its transformation into a full-fledged, standalone game, “Dota 2” has carved a niche for itself in the global esports scene.
One of the key factors contributing to its dominance is the astronomical prize pools associated with its tournaments, notably The International. The game has set records, with cumulative prize pools reaching over $305 million, a figure unparalleled in the esports domain. Such enormous prize pools are a testament to the game’s profitability and global appeal. No wonder this is number 1 in the top 10 esports games.
A significant driver behind these prize pools is the community-driven funding mechanism employed by Valve. Through the sale of in-game items, especially the “Battle Pass” during The International season, a portion of the proceeds goes into the tournament’s prize pool. This innovative approach not only amplifies the prize money but also ensures active community participation and investment in the game’s competitive scene.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
CS:GO is an influential game in the eSports scene and has been a staple in the competitive gaming world for years. Stemming from the Counter-Strike series, Counterstrike Global Offensive is an objective-based, multiplayer first-person shooter that pits two opposing teams against each other: the Terrorists and the Counter-Terrorists. Over the years, it has fostered a strong eSports culture, with many like-minded individuals uniting under a shared appreciation for the game.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s average player count ranges from 800,000 to 900,000 players at any time.
The revenue generated by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive over its entire lifespan could amount to an impressive $6.7 billion. This result makes CS:GO the most profitable game in Steam’s history, reports the analytics portal Gamalytic.
League of Legends
LoL has remained a titan in the eSports arena for over a decade, captivating millions with its strategic gameplay and extensive champion roster. The game’s competitive scene is expansive, with major tournaments spanning across regions, including the LEC in Europe and VCS in Vietnam. As of 2023, eSports Charts provides insights into the global viewership trends for “LoL”, emphasizing the game’s continued prominence in the eSports world.
The LEC Spring 2023, for instance, showcased the game’s dynamic nature and the European region’s strong participation, with a significant viewership and a notable prize pool, further cementing its position as a premier eSports event. Furthermore, with the gaming industry’s evolution, discussions have arisen regarding its future trajectory. However, the continued success and engagement with titles like LoL indicates that the eSports industry’s future remains promising
The highest annual revenue for LoL was in 2017 at $2.1 billion, while the lowest was in 2018 at $1.4 billion. The latest available data for 2022 reports a revenue of $1.8 billion.
LoL has a player count of 180 million monthly active players as of 2022. We estimate that LOL will have a player count of 152 million as of 2023.
Fortnite: A battle royale game that has gained significant attention in the esports arena.
Blizzard’s iconic first-person shooter, has seen significant changes and developments over the years. Established as an eSports giant, the Overwatch League has become a central competitive platform for the game, highlighting the talents and strategies of the world’s top players. However, 2023 brought concerns as rumors swirled regarding it being potentially the last Overwatch League season. Commissioner Sean Miller stepped forward to reaffirm the league’s commitment to the future of Overwatch esports, emphasizing that the spirit of competition remains strong.
While the league has faced challenges, such as a decline in viewership – with the 2023 playoffs garnering only 157,000 peak viewers and an average of 95,000 viewers – there are bright spots on the horizon. Recently, the Overwatch League announced plans to launch a “revitalized esports program” following the conclusion of the 2023 season, showcasing the franchise’s dedication to innovation and evolution in the competitive scene.
According to Active Player, Overwatch 2 currently maintains an average of 1,570,000 players daily, with a total of 23,544,632 active users over the past 30 days. This figure represents a slight decline from August 2023, likely attributed to the significant player influx during Season 6’s new content release.
Rainbow Six Siege
Developed by Ubisoft, has evolved into one of the premier titles in the esports arena. A tactical first-person shooter focusing on strategy and team play, its competitive scene has garnered attention and acclaim worldwide. As we approach 2023, significant changes are on the horizon for the Rainbow Six esports ecosystem. Ubisoft has decided to revisit and restructure the competitive framework, which demonstrates their continued commitment to enhancing the competitive experience for players and fans alike.
This forthcoming change follows a detailed announcement by Ubisoft regarding updates to the game’s esports format and regional allocations in 2023. Major tournaments, such as the Six Invitational, continue to play a pivotal role in determining global champions and highlighting the game’s dynamic competitive essence
On average, Rainbow Six Siege sees a peak player count of 565,638 daily active players on Steam.
Developed by Psyonix, is a unique blend of arcade-style soccer and vehicular mayhem. Since its launch, it has gained immense popularity and carved out a distinct niche in the esports scene. Unlike traditional sports-based games, “Rocket League” provides a fresh perspective by incorporating rocket-powered cars instead of human avatars, setting the stage for high-flying action, unbelievable saves, and jaw-dropping goals.
Over the years, the competitive scene of “Rocket League” has grown exponentially, with numerous tournaments and leagues sprouting globally. The Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) is the pinnacle of competitive play, witnessing teams from different regions battling for the coveted title and significant prize pools. This tournament encapsulates the game’s essence, showcasing expert ball control, precision teamwork, and innovative strategies.
One of the primary reasons for “Rocket League’s” sustained popularity in esports is its accessibility and straightforward concept, making it easy for newcomers to grasp while still providing depth for veteran players. The continuous updates, in-game events, and new car designs keep the community engaged and ensure the game’s longevity.
A tactical first-person shooter developed by Riot Games, has taken the esports world by storm since its introduction. Distinguished by its fusion of precise shooting mechanics and unique agent abilities, the game offers a refreshing twist to the traditional shooter genre.
In 2023, Riot Games unveiled significant evolutions to the “Valorant” competitive landscape. Their commitment to enhancing the player and fan experience remains evident through these updates, promising a brighter future for the game’s competitive ecosystem.
Viewership is a critical measure of an esport’s success, and “Valorant” has shown robust numbers. For instance, the Valorant Champions 2023 event amassed 3.68M Hours Watched, an impressive feat even with a 16.7% decrease compared to its predecessors. Such metrics underscore the game’s wide appeal and the enthusiastic fan base it has cultivated.
PUBG, developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean company Bluehole, has taken the esports world by storm since its release. Initially launched in 2017, the game quickly captivated the attention of gamers worldwide and ascended the charts as a top esports title.
PUBG was among the first to introduce the Battle Royale format – where players are pitted against each other in a shrinking play area, fighting for survival. This format was novel and provided an adrenaline-pumping experience, combining strategy and raw combat skills.
With its easy-to-understand gameplay mechanics and the universal appeal of the Battle Royale genre, PUBG garnered a diverse player base spanning multiple continents. The game saw immense popularity in regions like North America, Europe, and notably, Asia, especially in countries like India and China.
Developed by Blizzard Entertainment, is often hailed as one of the titles that laid the foundation for the modern esports landscape. Its launch in 1998 and its sequel, “StarCraft II”, in 2010, have both been monumental for competitive gaming, especially in South Korea. Here’s why StarCraft has maintained its position as a significant esports game:
StarCraft is a real-time strategy (RTS) game, demanding both rapid decision-making and dexterous micro-management. This blend of cerebral and mechanical challenge has made it appealing for both players and spectators.
StarCraft’s immense popularity in South Korea cannot be understated. It was more than a game; it was a cultural phenomenon. Television channels dedicated to StarCraft matches, professional teams, and players achieving celebrity status made the game’s esports ecosystem vibrant and robust.
While many games come and go, StarCraft has endured. Its meticulously balanced gameplay and the intricate interplay between its three distinct races (Terran, Zerg, and Protoss) have ensured it remains relevant, even decades after its initial release.
The esports industry has experienced a meteoric rise since its humble beginnings in the 1980s, with today’s top titles being testament to its wide-reaching appeal and potential. Games like ‘Dota 2’, ‘LoL’, and ‘StarCraft’ have not only enthralled millions globally but have also laid the foundation for competitive gaming as we know it. Whether it’s the community-driven initiatives of ‘Dota 2’, the high-octane gameplay of ‘Counter-Strike’, or the strategic depth of ‘StarCraft’, each title offers a unique experience that contributes to the vibrant tapestry of esports that’s the reason they made it to 10 most popular esports games. As we witness continuous innovations and adaptations within the industry, the future of esports promises even greater heights, ensuring that the world of competitive gaming remains dynamic and ever-evolving for years to come.