Gaming tournaments are increasingly gaining notoriety for their ever-growing popularity. If gaming is for nerds, then there sure are many of us. This thing has gone viral, it’s mainstream – we’re talking half a billion viewers in 2022 alone.
So why are they so popular, not just with gamers, but with actual fans? Yes, people even sit to watch other people play on platforms like Twitch. Turns out, some of these get more viewers than a professional football match. Let’s explore why we’ve suddenly decided we love gaming tournaments en masse.
Slot Tournaments: Chance of a Big Win
Let’s start with one of the more unorthodox gaming tournaments, the slot machine tourney. Yes, we’re talking about your traditional slot machine, the one where you used to insert coins and pull the lever at the casino.
There are two basic kinds of tournaments: freeplay and buy-in. The allure of the free slot tournaments is obvious. Players can win huge prizes without having to spend a buck.
Casinos like MGM Resorts (of Bellagio and Mandalay Bay fame) run these as promotional tournaments, drawing in crowds. You will usually get a set time with max spins enabled, with the high scorer walking away with a sizable prize.
And that’s really why we love them. The prize money. Even if it’s a small amount, the thrill of victory is always special. That’s the case with slots, but also with other types of gaming tournaments.
These tournaments have been around at land-based casinos for a while, but online casinos are now also getting involved, which has catapulted the tournaments to a whole new level of popularity. Of course, for those who want to partake in the traditional format, you can play online slots at megarush.com and similar providers.
The Rise of eSports: New Spectator Sport
Yes, you can play video games professionally. It’s the new wave of competitive gaming, where the winners can make some serious money. Once streaming became a thing, eSports as a fully-fledged industry soon followed.
Turns out, people love watching eSports just as they would a ‘real life’ professional game like football or basketball. It makes sense, when you think about it. People love playing, they know how difficult it is to get to a high level, and appreciate watching those who have exceptional talent. Just like with other sports.
The top players in eSports have a massive following on social media. To put it into perspective, Turney Tenney (aka Tfue) has 5.5 million followers on Instagram, and 11.7 million subscribers on YouTube. His videos have been watched over a billion times.
These stars are pretty much celebrities, think Tom Brady, Leo Messi, and Lebron James.
Some eSports teams even have big money sponsorships with some of the most recognizable multinationals on the planet. We’re talking about companies like Samsung, Coca-Cola, and Nike.
These are bona fide leagues with a professional framework, marketable stars, financial backing from big business, and scalability like nothing else. These leagues are set up to draw in the crowds in a major way.
Video Games: No Longer a Niche for ‘Nerds’
Turn back the clock to the 1980s and the video gamer stereotype wasn’t pretty: pasty-skinned, living with parents (probably in a basement), and not many friends or hobbies to speak of. Even in the 1990s, people talked about their video game obsession in hushed tones. It definitely wasn’t something you’d put on your Hinge profile equivalent, let’s just say that much.
But in 2023, it’s an entirely different reality. Video games are mainstream. It’s attracted a wide audience, not just the 18-35 male demographic. Your average grandma is just as likely to pick up Candy Crush as you are.
This creates a powerful platform for video game tournaments to thrive. It’s not fandom you hide, but show off on social media. People watch together in big crowds, not in quiet whispers away from the ‘cool kids’.
We Like to Compete
Even the most mellow and chilled person likes competition. Don’t deny it. Think about those games of Monopoly or Scrabble over Thanksgiving against the rest of your family. These things can get ugly.
When we like something (or even when we don’t!), we want to know how good we are compared to others. We want to test ourselves. And hey, if someone else is watching, it’s nice to be able to show off every once in a while. A little bit of friendly competition is always in demand, particularly if it’s organized like the major video game tournaments.
Finally, Because They’re Already Popular
Humans are fickle creatures. Ever play the game Lemmings? It captures our nature daily well, in simplistic terms, at least. Here’s a closing thought: gaming tournaments are big simply because popularity breeds popularity. When people see others liking or sharing gaming memes, videos, or otherwise, it gets them interested.
The fact that gaming tournaments have reached that point shows just how big it’s become. And it’s going to get even bigger. eSports as an industry, for instance, is just taking its first baby steps. Imagine when they reach the maturity of the NFL or Premier League.