A couple years ago, Google pitted AlphaGo -- an AI designed to master Go, a famous chinese board game, by watching other players and learning from their actions -- against the world's top players. The results shocked the gaming world: AlphaGo beat Ke Jie, the Go world champion. But that was just one surprising AI gaming experiment among many over the next few years. Big-name video game companies like Blizzard Entertainment, EA, Apex Game Tools and others have started using AI to change the face of their industry. How are they doing it?
Viewership for eSports grew by almost 20%from 2016 to 2017. By 2021, research by Newzoo predicts the industry will boast an audience of over 306 million people. Fans buy tickets to eSports tournaments, watch players online, and tune into viewing platforms like YouTube and Twitch to watch live coverage of their favourite eSports athletes. Twitch alone has seen a 12% increase in the number of people who view live streams on their channel with 3.8 million monthly viewers this year. The increase in viewers and the brand marketing potential has contributed to a rapid revenue growth in eSports, especially in a Southeast Asian market that has seen significant foreign investments for startups.
When Epic Games revealed its first, albeit limited-time, Fortnite ranked play mode last week, it promised more details on competitive play would arrive soon. We now know a little more on Fortnite's future in the professional ranks -- Epic is pumping $100 million into tournament prize pools in the game's first year as an eSport. The official Fortnite competitive scene will kick off this year. Details on how pro play will work are forthcoming, though Epic said in its announcement it is seeking a different approach to eSports: "We plan to be more inclusive, and focused on the joy of playing and watching the game." Grab your gear, drop in and start training.
Almost 70,000 gamers are set to crowd Los Angeles Convention Center for the annual E3 expo, a highlight on the video game calendar. Some of the top attractions are esports, with competitions throughout the week attracting fans in droves. Inside an 8,000-square-foot state-of-the-art esports training facility in Santa Monica, California, the five players who compete in "League of Legends" for Team Liquid push their bodies to the limit. "I play eight-to-12 hours a day, not including our games on the weekends," Jake Puchero tells me over the phone. It takes a lot of mental focus and physical stamina." Puchero, better known by his in-game name "Xmithie," is a 28-year-old professional "League of Legends" player for Team Liquid. For those not following esports, "League of Legends" is an online multiplayer game that pits two teams of five players against each other in an online battle arena, and it's one of the most popular sporting events on the planet. More people now watch the League of ...
As Fortnite continues to suck in gamers by the millions, Epic Games has worked hard to keep the game fresh and entertaining, whether players are dropping in for the first or thousandth time. Last month, it committed more than $100 million into Fortnite tournament prize pools and announced its first official esports event: the Fortnite Pro-Am. Popular streamers and YouTubers -- with backgrounds in PUBG, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty and, of course, Fortnite -- joined actors, sports stars and musicians at E3 for a 50-team, 100-person battle royale. Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, the biggest personality in competitive esports right now (helps when you stream with hip-hop megastar Drake), buddied up with EDM DJ Marshmello, YouTuber Ali-A joined Fall Out Boy singer Pete Wentz, while professional gamer Gotaga was accompanied by UFC fighter Demetrious Johnson in a bid to win a $3 million charity prize pool. Before now, enterprising organizers had hosted their own Fortnite eSports tournaments just using the default game.