Is 2017 the year when Virtual Reality technology is going to find its way into eSports? Specifically, when people start watching VR streams instead of the more usual broadcasts on the monitor? It could be, if what ESL and DreamHack are planning is to come to fruition. According to reports on the Internet, the two of the biggest tournament organizers in the world are going to provide 360 virtual reality streams on Sliver.TV for 14 of their events this year. Sliver.TV is a platform similar to Twitch.tv, with a very big difference. It allows people to watch matches in Virtual Reality, full 360-degree visibility VR.
While it sounds like something dreamt up by a screenwriter writing a futuristic SciFi movie, it’s not absolutely new. In fact, two events, ESL One New York and IEM Oakland, have been broadcast in Virtual Reality already. The IEM Oakland event’s Virtual Reality broadcast was viewed by 130,000 unique eSports fans. This amount of visibility appears to have convinced the people from ESL and DreamHack, as well as their corporate overlord, that VR broadcasts are a worthwhile venture. To be honest, the whole VR technology market is growing, more and more people are getting the gear to have VR adventures. In time, as the gear gets cheaper, the number of people who like and use VR technology is only going to increase. Predicting a customer’s need and providing for it can only be a good thing.
Of course, it could very well be that the novelty of the whole thing is going to wear off after the first couple of tournaments watched this way. When everyone who owns the stuff needed to watch Virtual Reality broadcasts, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Google Cardboard and a system capable of running it, has seen and got bored of VR eSports tournament broadcasts, it might go back into the nether of the things that had potential but didn’t work. Or it could become the next big thing, the perfect way to watch eSports like a true fan, becoming so fashionable that people make fun of you for watching the tournament the old-fashioned way.
The future is dark (or bright) and full of terrors (or wonders), it’s impossible to tell you what is going to happen. What we can tell you is which events will have VR broadcasts in 2017. Those are:
DreamHack Masters Las Vegas – Feb 15-19
Unknown DreamHack Masters event
DreamHack ASTRO Open Austin – Apr 28-30
DreamHack ASTRO Open Atlanta – Jul 21-23
DreamHack ASTRO Open Montreal – Sep 8-10
DreamHack ASTRO Open Denver – Oct 20-22
DreamHack ASTRO Open Winter – Nob 30- Dec 2
Intel Extreme Masters Katowice – Feb 25-Mar 5
3 Additional IEM Global Events
ESL One Cologne – Jul 3-8
ESL One New York – Sep 1-15
Unnanounced ESL One Event