The esports scene not only represents the fastest growing market within gaming itself, but actually ended up drawing the highest viewer count of any sport in the US in 2021 behind the NHL. The factors that led to the sector’s rise are many and complex, but we can rest assured in the knowledge that after many years of gestation, competitive gaming has arrived as a mainstream force.
There are many popular esports games, with more being developed every day, though the most popular are generally considered to be DOTA 2, League of Legends, Fortnite and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Each of these has a long pedigree and has amassed loyal followers and committed players. The biggest DOTA 2 event, Activision Blizzard’s The International, still commands the largest prize pools across the industry with 2022’s edition said to be offering a share of over $40 million.
Yet with the basic picture of the esports scene undergoing so much change now after decades of relative stability, it should come as no surprise that new games are capturing market share quickly. From Valorant to Honor of Kings, new titles are quickly finding their footing in this new period of expansion. Below we’re going to be taking a look at the 3 fastest growing esports titles out there today in 2022.
The OG battle royale game, PUBG started life as a mod of DayZ, which itself was a mod of ARMA 2. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds journey to global eminence is one of the great rags to riches stories in the modern games industry. Developer Graham Greene (aka PlayerUnknown) could never have imagined his battle royale mini-game would take off the way it did. Now, even 5 years after its initial release, PUBG draws in an average 500,000 daily players, a number that has risen to over 3 million in the past.
PUBG’s success is perhaps unsurprising, especially since it inaugurated one of the most popular new genres in the world today. Yet PUBG’s rapid growth of late is generally considered to be due to its broad smartphone support and availability. Already this is the dominant means by which gamers access the title globally, especially in India where its localized version remains the most popular video game on the subcontinent, with 34 million registered users.
While sticklers and purists may take issue with the inclusion of online poker here, anybody who has been watching the esports community evolve over the past couple of years will easily recognize why this title deserves a spot on our list. A case could be made that the online wing of poker is already one of the longest running and best established esports out there, with over 20 years under its belt in its present iteration. Increasingly, esports solo athletes and teams have been expanding their portfolio of titles to include poker, and major platforms from within the sector, such as PokerStars, have been making moves on Twitch.
This has helped to establish the game among the streaming contingent of the esports community. In fact, to date their Stadium Series tournament holds the record for the largest prize pool awarded on the Amazon-owned platform. Poker is a well established part of popular culture, and from Texas Hold’ Em to Omaha, its variants are instantly recognizable and simple to understand for the public at large. It also offers something the rest of the esports scene presently struggles to achieve, which is demographic diversity among its fanbase.
Call of Duty: Warzone
How would you go about making the highest growing and most popular video game series of all time, even more successful? Well you wouldn’t go far wrong by making it free to play. That is precisely what Activision Blizzard had in mind when it launched Call of Duty: Warzone back in 2020.
While the game is not a full mainline entry to the series, lacking a comprehensive campaign and some of the bells and whistles, it does deliver a fully fleshed out multiplayer gameplay experience cut from the battle royale mold. Talk of an upcoming mobile optimized version of the title may even cement Warzone as the series’ premier franchise going forward, particularly in the esports space where its democratized access has made it an instant hit.