Had an interesting conversation last week with a guy who was trying to convince me that games like DoTA and League of Legends are not that big of a deal. While he admittedly didn’t play any MOBA’s, it didn’t stop him from voicing the opinion that they are not in ascendancy and that the culture we have in America will never support these types of games. Especially compared to Asian communities with games like Starcraft. “Those guys are rock-stars” he said “and we’ll never have anything like that here.” As an avid DoTA fan, I told him as politely as I could that he was nothing but wrong.
I’m not one to say “I told you so”, so it’s nice when reality decides to do it for me.
Ticket’s for The International 2014 (July 18-21) went on sale over the weekend. Ten thousand tickets for Seattle’s Key Arena stadium , priced anywhere from $99 for general admission to $499 for VIP packages, sold out in approximately one hour. That’s like, a bazillion dollars in one hour! Or something. I don’t know, math is hard.
But seriously, it’s a lot of money. It’s “corporations start sitting up and taking notice” kind of money. It’s exactly why my misguided friend is so dreadfully wrong. As I noted in my last article, competitive gaming and the rise of a truly “professional” gamer is almost palpable in it’s reality. As more occurrences like this happen, it is inevitable that some CEO (who grew up gaming) looks around and says “You know, they have sponsorship for Nascar and the NFL and MLB and the NHL why the heck can’t our company, “Grandma’s Goode Cookies and Tire Rotation Inc.”, slap a patch on the shoulders of a team of these DoTA kids and get a little advertising?”
And just like that, a new era will be born. An era in which we’ll be watching a match, brought to us by Merrill Lynch and Charmin bath tissue. An era where kids will ask “Mom, can I go out to play?” and receive the answer “Not until you get your K/D back over .500, mister.” An era in which nerds and geeks will be turning DOWN the head cheerleader as a date to the prom. An era where we start seeing Fear, or Dendi, or HyHy on a box of Wheaties.
And with the advent of streaming services like Twitch, it will put pressure on cable and over-the-air networks to get in on the action. The potential size of their slice of the advertising pie will become too large for them to stay out of the arena of gaming broadcasting. They will be clamoring to be the “Home of Network Gaming” and their entrance into the market will simply finalize the legitimization of what is already a fairly legitimate pastime.
It promises to be a glorious future, friends. Frankly, I can’t wait to see it.