In a statement to Reuters on Sunday, Zhang Dazhong, CEO of Alisports, mentioned that the next Asian Games event, set to take place in 2022, will not include as many violent video games as the one in 2018.
Competitive video games shifting towards non-violence?
Zhang Dazhong, CEO of Alisports – the sports division of Alibaba and partner of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), reportedly told Reuters that Asian Games 2022 will include vastly different video games. The shift is geared towards reducing the violence portrayed in competitive gaming and it is the wish of higher-ups that eSports feature more sports-themed video games, in place of the shooters and the MOBAs currently dominating the scene. The Asian Games 2018 event was the first time that eSports were showcased in such a high-profile manner alongside traditional sports.
There is also the discussion about eSports in the Olympic. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has clear guidelines regarding what can be featured in the Olympic games and the current competitive video gaming scene does not represent that. The IOC recognized eSports are legitimate sporting competitions not too long ago and their presence in the Asian Games 2018 was an experiment to see how the public would react. The event saw games like League of Legends, Clash Royale, Starcraft II, Pro Evolution Soccer and others, played by gamers from 16 different Asian countries. While relatively successful, changes are needed if eSports are to be added to the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.
Zhang expressed that competitive eSports should be more in line with Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, rather than Starcraft II or League of Legends, and would like to see more sports-focused eSports. Furthermore, IOC President Thomas Bach declared that violence goes against the spirit of the Olympic games and as a result, many video games will not make the cut.
What effects will this have on the globe eSports industry?
So what does this mean for the future of eSports? If the wishes of the IOC are fulfilled, then we might see the rise of a whole new genre of competitive video games. The eSports scene for sports-themed games is not too developed at the moment, although there are titles that certainly meet the criteria. The already-mentioned Pro Evolution Soccer and EA’s NFL have well-established followings and there are plenty of platforms that feature these games. But they are completely trumped by the viewership that titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or League of Legends enjoy.
Promoting a new type of video game will also cause a shift in the viewer demographic. Sports-themed video games and major present-day eSports have widely different players bases, with the likes of League of Legends, CS: GO and Starcraft II being played by a dedicated and grounded following. In fact, the majority of core gamers do not look upon sports-themed video games favorable. Many consider them to be casual games, not meant to be taken on a serious level. While that is only an opinion and it is not indicative of the quality of said games, this attitude will be hard to change. It is more likely that the IOC-approved eSports will have a very different following from the already-established games, with very little overlap between the two.