Quake III pulls ahead, wait a minute!
I’m a huge proponent of gaming history and preservation. I lived through a lot of eras of gaming, and remember it all. The LAN cafes and people going crazy over Quake III. People in my area trying to make it big in the fighting game community in local tournaments, and the bourgeoning Halo regional scene. And of course, the national phenomenon of StarCraft overseas. It was all fascinating to watch, but this very quick and enlightening esports growth chart visual aid really drives home how big some of these games were, and currently are.
Posted on Reddit by PieChartPirate, the esports growth chart starts at 1998 and ends in the present era, cataloging prize pools. At what is essentially the dawn of esports, Quake II, QuakeWorld (now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time), and StarCraft Brood War were at the top of the charts. In just one year Brood War completely shoots ahead, followed closely on its heels by Quake III Arena, which was gaining massive popularity with the rise of online play. Amazingly, Quake III pulls ahead, but the ominous Counter-Strike appears.
In just several years, starting around 2003, Counter-Strike pulls ahead by a long shot and dominates by at least a million dollars (if not more) until 2014. At that point its reign is over, as League of Legends, StarCraft II, and Dota 2 are all in position and gaining popularity. From then on, given the massive amounts of cash Valve injects into the latter, it’s Dota 2‘s game to lose. CS Go enters the fray as the second-highest total prize pool placeholder, followed by Fortnite in third and League in fourth.
There are so many stories told in this esports growth chart: each of which probably deserves its own symposium. One of my favorites is the low-key appearance of Age of Empires II in the early 2000s, and the fact that Descent 3, a game I played mostly alone, had a $50,000 prize pool. It’s also sobering to just sit down and realize how much money Valve makes in a day, and how their chokehold over the esports scene has lasted nearly two decades.