ESPN and Blizzard Entertainment Hope To Show That eSports Are More Than a Hobby

ESPN EsportsESPN and game developer Blizzard Entertainment are striving to make eSports accessible and delightful for the masses. The challenge is to get the interest up in nationally broadcast events. The ESPN and Blizzard Entertainment collaboration is working to give more coverage to young players who have charm and unique backstories. The idea is that learning about the young players instead of the actual games will attract more viewers who are fans of more traditional programming.

ESPN 2 broadcasted the finals of the annual Heroes of The Dorm tournament that invites students from almost 300 colleges across the country to play “Heroes of the Storm,” a multiplayer PC game. Heroes of the Storm combines characters from different games such as Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft. Two teams with five players each compete on a battleground that features obstacles such as golemns and pirate ships. To win the game, a team must destroy the other teams’s base before theirs is destroyed. The game is based primarily on teamwork. Instead of individual players receiving a boost, the entire team is improved after victories. There are no strategies in the game that give one single player an advantage over the other players.

Events such as the Heroes of the Dorm gaming tournament are important to the eSports community because of how they bring together players who may back that atmosphere on campus. These events also raise awareness to the sport in general. Of course there has been some backlash to the coverage on the network, however Blizzard and ESPN aren’t giving up.

Over 200 million people watch and/or play eSports, making the eSports nation one of the largest on the planet. Blizzard looks to appeal to more skeptical viewers by mentioning the human side of these players in hopes that viewers will get emotionally invested in the players.

For the competition, Blizzard developed a user interface for the broadcast to help make it friendlier to beginner gamers. This year’s version of the tournament saw growth compared to previous year. While this shows ESPN and Blizzard that things are trending in the right direction, eSports still has a ways to go to find mainstream success. However, with the backing of ESPN, the future looks bright.