It’s not that long ago that playing video games was considered a useless pastime. And any teenager who dreamed of spending the rest of his life playing games, and even getting paid for it, knew very 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 is tough. But above all, video games have become e-Sport, a discipline in its own right which 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, and then to lay the first stone of a collaboration between politicians and players, in particular in order to offer more means and protection to the latter, an area where France is behind compared to other nations of the world where culture and -Sport is already much more developed. But even if these announcement effects do not lead to all the desired progress, this recognition from the highest state official is proof that e-Sport has reached a decisive stage and is no longer considered a a simple pastime for idlers.
— France Esports (@Fra_esports) June 3, 2022
Can’t wait for 2023
Two other even more recent events have also demonstrated the growing popularity of e-Sport in France. First there was the 7th 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 collecting 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 during 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 will be held in France. It’s a double revolution because we expected more a Mondial de League of Legends or an edition of The International on Dota 2, two games much more popular in France than Counter-Strike, a rather violent shooting game which is struggling to find its place among the French public. It is the qualifications for The International 2022 that are taking place right now and that are attracting 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 Olympics?
If the progression of e-Sport may seem dazzling, it is however not new because e-Sport has now existed for more than a decade at a professional level. Although 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, 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, played a major role in the development of e-Sport, which was able to reach a more connected and younger audience.
Then after having attracted a large number of video game fans, e-Sport gradually approached the general public, first by managing to enter the site of L’Equipe, the largest daily sportsman of France, where an entire section is now dedicated to him. E-Sport has also found its place on other major sites, which are also expanding rapidly 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, always reluctant to consecrate video games as a sport: that of participating in the Games. Olympics. If it will still be necessary to overcome certain levels for this, such as the broadcasting on television, and not only on Twitch, of major e-Sport competitions, and even if the timing will be a bit short for Paris 2024, despite the good obvious will of President Macron, it is an objective which is not completely unachievable in the future. And then e-Sport can simply be called Sport.