Could competitive puzzle games make it big in the esports world?
There is little denying the fact that many casual gamers like to play titles like Tetris or Puyo Puyo as a fun way to pass the time. But could we ever see Puyo Puyo esports tournaments or competitive Tetris competitions?
The prospect of having an esports puzzle game tournament might initially seem like a fairly laughable idea. But as everything from collectable card games like Hearthstone to mobile hits like Clash Royale have made a big splash in the esports realm, then there are growing calls to make big competitive puzzle games competitions an actuality in the future. But how would an esports puzzle game tournament work, and more importantly, would anybody actually tune in to watch gamers playing simple competitive puzzle games?
Which titles could feature in a competitive puzzle games tournament?
Ever since Tetris came on the scene way back in 1984 it quickly grew to become one of the most iconic gaming titles around. The concept of stacking up the falling blocks was simple, but it proved to be ruthlessly addictive and something that even the most novice gamer could get hooked on. With over 495 million copies of Tetris having been sold as of 2014, it’s clear that this game is one of the all-time greats.
Hot on Tetris’ heels is the Puyo Puyo title. This tile-matching game came out in 1991, and whilst it has undergone many incarnations, it has managed to retain its addictive simplicity and has clocked up an impressive 25 million in global sales.
There’s plenty of debate about what actually qualifies as a puzzle game. But whether it’s a relatively recent hit like Candy Crush Saga, or a classic like World of Goo, or even a fun platformer like Portal 2, it seems that all of these titles have a simplicity that makes them endlessly enjoyable to play.
What’s stopping the rise of competitive puzzle games?
While there is little denying the incredible popularity of puzzle games, there remains big questions about how successful an esports puzzle game tournament would be. A quick look at the most popular esports titles reveals how complex multiplayer action, immersive graphics and realistic gameplay seem to be amongst the most important features which means that competitive Puyo Puyo esports wouldn’t qualify.
It’s also true that iconic esports titles like League of Legends have worked long and hard to develop interesting backstories to each of the characters which adds an extra emotional twist to the gameplay – definitely something that wouldn’t be a factor in a competitive Tetris competition.
Whilst we have seen plenty of entertaining one-on-one esports showdowns, it’s clear that the best esports tournaments are usually the chaotic multiplayer team contests. Whether it’s cheering on your favourite Overwatch team, or seeing how a League of Legends side works together, it’s the blending together of various team-members’ personalities that makes watching esports so captivating.
But it’s surely the basic fact that watching a competitive puzzle games tournament would be hugely boring that would be the biggest reason as to why we won’t be seeing a big esports puzzle game contest anytime soon. Although there’s plenty of fun to be had in playing Candy Crush Saga by yourself, such titles are hardly well suited to being spectator sports. When you consider that esports like Counter Strike Global Offensive have stunning graphics and pretty impressive audio, it seems fairly unlikely that millions would tune in to look at the basic graphics and dodgy soundtrack of a competitive Tetris showdown.
Will we ever see an esports puzzle game tournament?
Just because there are plenty of reasons why a Puyo Puyo esports tournament might not work doesn’t mean that this won’t happen in the future. After all, few people would have suspected that esports would grow to become a multi-billion dollar industry in just a couple of decades.
The fact that thousands of people tune in to watch collectable card games tournaments for the Hearthstone title suggests that something similar could eventually happen sooner or later for an esports puzzle game. And anybody who has experienced the sheer boredom of the opening stages of a Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds match will probably find a Tetris contest a refreshing alternative.
Above all, it’s the fact that these puzzle games are so popular that means that somebody is going to try and make titles like Tetris into fully fledged esports. After all, the Classic Tetris World Championships has already managed to develop into something approaching an esport, and whilst it’s unlikely to match the viewing figures of The International, it still shows that even niche markets can get pretty big. But until a puzzle game comes along that can match the multiplayer gameplay mayhem of something like Overwatch, then these gaming options are unlikely to become big hits in the esports world.