Not so long ago, playing video games was considered a useless hobby. And any teenager who dreamed of spending the rest of his life playing games, and even getting paid for it, knew full well that such a possibility was utopian. And yet, now, many of them manage to live from their passion for games, even if the places are expensive and the competition fierce. But above all, video games have become e-Sports, a discipline in its own right that has its own teams, tournaments, sponsors and fans, and which is gaining popularity and recognition year after year.
E-Sport at the Élysée
It was on June 3, when everyone had their heads turned towards the holidays, that a founding event for the French e-Sport scene took place, organized by the Association France E-sport. Many representatives of e-Sport (players, organizers, commentators, etc.) were received at the Élysée Palace by Emmanuel Macron himself, first in order to recognize e-Sport at its fair value, then to lay the first stone of collaboration between politicians and actors, in particular in order to offer more means and protection to the latter, an area where France lags behind other nations in the world where culture and sport are already much more developed. But even if these announcement effects do not bring all the expected progress, this recognition of the highest official of the State is proof that e-Sport has taken a decisive step and is no longer considered a simple hobbies for lazy people.
— France Esports (@Fra_esports) June 3, 2022
I can’t wait for 2023
Two other even more recent events also demonstrated the growing popularity of e-Sports in France. First there was the 7e edition of ZEvent, a kind of telethon that mixes streaming, e-Sport and video games, broadcast live on Twitch for 50 consecutive hours and which broke a new record by raising more than 10.2 million euros which will be donated to 5 charities. And the organizers have already announced that the 2023 edition will be much more ambitious.
The other news concerns a promise by Emmanuel Macron on this famous day of June 3, that of organizing one of the main international e-Sport tournaments in France. And it’s now done since it was the President himself on Twitter who announced that the first Counter-Strike Major in 2023 would be held in France. It’s a double revolution because we were expecting more of a League of Legends World Cup or an edition of The International on Dota 2, two games much more popular in France than Counter-Strike, a fairly violent shooting game that struggles to find its place among the French public. These are The International 2022 qualifiers happening right now and catching the attention of all eSports fans, followers and bettors. But next year, it is therefore towards France that these eyes will be turned, and the opportunity will therefore be dreamed of to develop the popularity of e-Sport in general as well as that of Counter-Strike.
A long way… to the Olympic Games?
If the progression of e-Sports may seem dazzling, it is not new because e-Sports have now existed for more than a decade at a professional level. While it was in the United States and Asia that it achieved its first successes, this discipline has been able to count on several major technological innovations in recent years to develop. First of all, the improvement of computer equipment as well as the democratization of fiber throughout Europe have enabled everyone to try their hand at e-Sport under the same conditions as professionals, to create many vocations. Then, the advent of the Twitch platform, the main broadcaster of the biggest e-Sport tournaments on the planet, has played a major role in the development of e-Sport, which has been able to reach a more connected and younger audience.
Then after attracting a large number of video game enthusiasts, e-Sport gradually moved closer to the general public, first by managing to penetrate the site of L’Equipe, the largest sports daily in France, where an entire section is now devoted to it. E-sport has also found its place on other major sites, also in full expansion in France, those of sports betting. From now on, it is just as possible to bet on a match of the second French football division as on a round of the Benelux championship on Counter-Strike.
But e-Sport has an ultimate dream, the one that would consecrate it forever as a sport in its own right and which would make it accepted by older generations, still reluctant to consecrate video games as a sport: that of participating in the Games. Olympic Games. If it will still be necessary to overcome certain levels for this, such as the broadcasting on television, and not only on Twitch, of the major e-Sport competitions, and even if the timing will be a little short for Paris 2024, despite the obvious goodwill of the President Macron, this is a goal that is not totally unattainable in the future. And then e-Sport can simply be called Sport.