Esports vs Gaming – Key differences between esports and gaming

Esports and gaming are two terms often used interchangeably. While crossover exists between the two, there are fundamental differences that everyone should know.

Gaming is a broad term encompassing playing any video game regardless of platform or means. Esports only focuses on competitive video gaming where one side loses and the other side wins. There is always something at stake, and yes we are aware draws exist. The distinction between gaming is esports is similar between kicking a ball around and playing football in the Champions League.

esports vs gaming differences

Gaming: Keepin’ it Casual

Gaming refers to playing video games in general. If you are playing a video game, you are gaming. That could be anything from a quick game of Candy Crush on your phone to a fast-paced match of CS:GO with your friends. This type of gaming is only as competitive as you want it to be. It’s just supposed to be fun.

Occasionally, gaming is more competitive, especially if the whole point is to defeat the other player(s). However, both parties can walk away without having risked much time or money regardless of the outcome.

Video games are big business. Newzoo predicts that there are about 2.7 billion gamers across the world, and they spent $159 billion on the pastime in 2020. Despite the stereotype of a young, overweight teenage boy playing games in his mother’s basement, the average age of a gamer is actually 35, and approximately half of them are female. The most popular gaming device is the one you already have — your phone.

The term “gaming” is also used to refer to gambling, which can get confusing, especially if you are betting on a video game tournament.

Esports: High Risk, High Reward

The word “esports” is a portmanteau (combination of two words) of “electronic” and “sports.” In short, this term means competitive video games. Video games have been inherently competitive since the 1970s. Still, the idea of large crowds and high prize pools didn’t come to popularity until the 2000s, when the internet became more widely available to households.

Esports is defined by competition, risk, and a reward for being the best. That reward could be as simple as good old-fashioned bragging rights, or sharing a slice the Dota 2 The International $40 million prize pool. This is where the key difference in esports vs gaming lies.

Many video game developers create titles hoping that they will become famous for competition, and others fall into it naturally. For example, Epic Games developed its first MOBA, Paragon, for competition, but it was quickly overshadowed by the battle royale mode in Fortnite and thus abandoned. Likewise, there is a vibrant esports community around Farm Simulator. Who would have thought?

That doesn’t mean that all video games are suitable for esports, however. A successful title must:

  • be entertaining to watch
  • be easy to pick up but difficult to master, i.e., only the best win through extensive practice and skill
  • game should be easy to follow by outsiders or at the very least, by viewers who play the game
  • have enough variables in-game that keep things exciting and can be used by expert players to win

Esports fans are often gamers but don’t have to be. Just like a football or baseball fan, you don’t have to be an expert player yourself to appreciate someone else’s skill. Esports enthusiasts tend to watch competitive video game content on Twitch or other platforms at least once per month. According to industry analyst Newzoo, there are approximately 234 million esports enthusiasts worldwide.

Technology Changing the Game

The rise of the esports industry can be attributed, in part, to advances in technology. We’ve come a long way from scheduling a gaming session with your friends and then fighting over the dial-up internet connection with your siblings. With the advent of 5G connection speeds, mobile esports and esports as a whole have become another avenue for gamers to compete with the best.

Overall, gaming and esports are similar, but with key differences. Sites like Skillz will allow you to win money by competing in hyper-casual titles like Bubble Blaster but has a long way to go before millions of fans tune in to watch the results, much less bet on a winner.

Blockchain technology is advancing the way that esports players get paid, sign contracts and protect the integrity of betting. More and more tournament organizers are forming strategic partnerships with blockchain companies to integrate real-time game statistics with live betting markets. The esports industry will be a $1 billion industry in 2021, with a majority coming from corporate sponsorship.

CS:GO betting has become increasingly popular because it is easy to follow, and there are fewer variables to worry about. For the most part, you bet on who wins.