Esports has emerged as a booming industry recording impressive growth in recent years. While major portion of the sports industry is focused on cricket and soccer world cups, an entirely disparate world of eSports is expected to bring revenues in excess of US$ 800 Mn in 2018. A massive growth in revenue stream is estimated for the esports industry, undergird in part by efforts of established global corporations to reach out to the tech-savvy audience. 

The esports industry continues to attract sponsorship & attention of major global brands such as Microsoft, Intel, Redbull, and myriad other computer software and hardware developers. Virtual reality is pegged to not only become an integral part of this burgeoning new competitive sporting genre, but also gain utter significance while bridging the gap between gaming and traditional sports. Virtual reality is bid by leading industry players to catapult esports into a mainstream gaming field. 

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Role of Virtual Reality in Competitive Esports Experience 

Ever-improving degrees of physical interactions to computer are catalyzing the creation of a competitive virtual reality experience. Games for Playstation VR such as RIGS Mechanized Combat League are already under design phase for competitive VR play, abreast locomotion devices with use cases of esports such as the Virtuix Omni. Competitive VR play in esports is a completely different ball game, wherein pro players spectate a game through VR headsets, controlling in-game avatars using motion tracking, instead of a controller or keyboard. 

VR spectating already has a significant palpability in the esports industry, enabling users the ability to position themselves in multiplayer game by standing beside avatars of pro players. Startups such as Sliver.tv are actively putting efforts to implement VR spectating into more VR devices and competitive games. This will further translate into an unparalleled level of audience engagement.

Virtual reality is undoubtedly a strong drive for the competitive experience in VR-based esports, as the software and technology continues to mature in tandem with exponential penetration of esports into the gaming industry. Emergence of the mainstream VR competitive sports that are in line with traditional sporting values alludes at a promising storm forming for the esports industry in the near future. 

VR Esports Leagues – New Era of Cyber-Athlete 

VR esports leagues are gaining significant ground, proving that not every videogame is associated with “sit down and play.” In a step to boost VR esports, new arcades are being introduced by global leaders, who are collaborating with prominent virtual reality game development studios. Intel is betting on virtual reality and esports, with an aim to grow in the community. VR and esports lead of Intel stated that their 2017 Katowice competition witnessed attendees in excess of 173,000, along with over 43 million online viewers. 

Oculus VR and Intel have collaboratively launched a virtual reality esports championship in New York. This larger competitive esports gaming series will feature numerous VR esports across the globe, with a prize pool of US$ 200,000 for players. Online as well as offline competitions will be included in this esports series, focusing on two games viz. The Unspoken and Echo Arena. Another prime example of VR esports arcade league is the one co-hosted by the Virtual Athletics League (VAL), LIV - mixed reality streaming software, and SpingboardVR – an arcade management platform. 

New technology platforms, such as VR, create the need for experimentation and optimism from hardware makers and developers, which is exactly what VR Challenger League represents. With such VR esports leagues being announced, it won’t be long for VR to be ready for competing with traditional PC and console gaming. 

Virtual Reality will observe widespread acceptance in the gaming community, by the time conditions are met for establishing a feasible VR esports ecosystem of billion-dollar betting pools and chiseled VR athletes. Although esports’ part in propelling VR into mainstream is considered ambiguous, it will undoubtedly be a key growth influencer of VR. 

Companies focusing on transitioning VR beyond traditional gaming niches to become more universally accepted medium for expression and communication will witness bright prospects in the near future. Meanwhile, content developers and publishers are better-equipping themselves to support VR esports ecosystem, to attract larger audience and shrewd talent.

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