Video games are no longer 8-bit side scrollers played on a living room television. Today, they are online, played by millions of gamers across the globe -- including my son. Online gaming also launched the phenomenon of competitive organized gaming known as "e-sports," and it's quickly become a billion-dollar industry.
Players across the globe compete at Fortnight, Madden, Call of Duty and many other games, via their residential Internet connections. Investors, broadcasters and brands want to get in on the action, something they see as a major opportunity. But one overlooked piece of the e-sports puzzle is the infrastructure required to transmit all this data while simultaneously creating a seamless experience. Because gamers demand uninterrupted connections, they need ultra-fast, symmetrical access with low latency and high quality of service. Right now, only fiber really delivers.
Who is watching? Who is playing?
Any time, almost anywhere in the world, gamers log on to platforms like World Gaming Network to compete or turn to Twitch and watch players. The fan base for e-sports is rapidly growing: Nearly 400 million people worldwide watch e-sports Newzoo estimates, and over 165 million of those are dedicated esports enthusiasts, the researcher said. High school and college-level teams continue to form;
professional teams compete for huge cash prizes. While most esports fans view competitions online, some pack stadiums to watch events in person. "Overwatch," a competitive multiplayer shooter game, filled the Barclay Center in Brooklyn close to max capacity for their league championship. Over 500 major e-sports events were held in 2017 and generated over $59 million in ticket sales.
E-sports opened the floodgates of new investment opportunities as investors, broadcasters and brands look to get in on the ground floor of this emerging new market. Several e-sports leagues have adopted the city-affiliation model of professional sports as they seek to find a home audience: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. all have professional teams. TV networks, including ESPN, are acquiring TV broadcasting rights to various e-sports events. Even traditional sports brands are getting in on the action -- Nike, for one, recently produced jerseys for the popular e-sport "League of Legends" in China.
Fan favorite? Fiber
Whether at home or at stadiums, gamers need low latency and high throughput to compete. Most games require Internet speeds of at least 10 Mbps to 25 Mbps. That bare minimum is simply not good enough for e-sports participants. Gamers are likely to abandon games if they experience the smallest amounts of network delay or lag. Danish ISP Stofa made a hilarious ad showing this very thing. They pranked six young gamers by purposefully slowing down their Internet connections during a particularly intense game and filmed their reactions. The results? Take a look. (Hint: Frustration. Tears. Anger.) Simply put, low connections kill the game and kill the sport.
Fiber connectivity -- both in the home for gamers, and in stadiums and convention centers for e-sports athletes and spectators -- is necessary to grow the e-sports industry to its full potential. Our research with RVA shows fiber is faster and more reliable than cable, DSL and cellular. If fans want to play or watch their favorite competitors live without lagging or buffering, they need a high-speed fiber broadband connection.
Fiber's All-Star future
Fiber will provide the muscle behind the e-sports industry. But more broadly, fiber will also support the growing Internet of Things and accompanying devices and applications. Fiber connectivity will provide the backbone for everything from connected cars to our smart home devices to 5G.
Fiber: It's the Wheaties for e-sports and our entire connected future.
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