Over the last year, we’ve seen a ramp-up of high-level chatter about bringing e-sports to the Olympics. Last summer the co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee told the AP that it was considering video gaming for the 2024 program in France. The International Olympic Committee then said “competitive e-sports could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports.” Most recently, the IOC held a forum on e-sports to gather “gaming executives, players, sponsors and event organizers with a goal of building relationships between Olympic leaders and the esports industry” in Lausanne, Switzerland.
That event was Saturday, and thanks to the Esports Observer, we have a good idea how the movement is coming along and how seriously some of the big online gaming companies are taking it. For example, during the World of Esports panel, Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime said that thanks to streaming, we’ve seen “exponential growth for the industry,” leading to a “real inflection point for esports.”
“[Folks who] hadn’t really been paying attention to the esports phenomenon are now interested. So what we have, is that for the first time ESPN will be broadcasting the Overwatch League on prime-time, which we’ve not really seen before. We have sponsors paying attention. It’s a very attractive demographic. It’s 20 to 40 years younger than most traditional sports. It’s early, and I think it is just going to keep growing from here.”
Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent’s position was more global, as he envisions “getting governments involved” and helping e-sports become more “legitimised” by “recognising esports as its own discipline, creating the right regulations and the right systems to enable us to really grow” – specifically dealing with the politics of e-sport athlete travel. “There are certain territories that are less sophisticated in that regard, and that makes it hard for us to grow the sport in certain areas of the world.”
Further reading on e-sports in international sporting events: