What would you suppose is the fastest-growing sport in the world today? Soccer is making new inroads into the American market, particularly following the recently contested Qatar World Cup, and cricket became among the world’s most valuable sports following a historic $6.2 billion dollar deal for broadcast rights for the IPL. Yet neither of these represents an industry that is projected to grow by over 20% year-on-year for the rest of the decade – that accolade belongs to esports. Yes, not only is competitive gaming riding a wave of popularity that catapulted its global worth to over $1 billion seemingly overnight, it’s even the fastest-growing category for sports betting globally. Leading comparison platforms increasingly find their patrons opting to redeem some of the offers on headline esports tournaments in the same way they would on conventional sporting competitions.
With more people than ever jumping on the competitive gaming bandwagon, mobile and console-based esports are gaining ground in a space traditionally and unequivocally occupied by PC games. While this picture may be changing, the long history of esports gaming on PCs, the flexibility and customization afforded by the platform, and the undeniable merits of the mouse+keyboard input are all conspiring to ensure that, for the time being, it continues to rule the roost.
PC Gaming Is Steam Gaming
But what are the most popular esports enjoyed by PC gamers today? One good way of figuring this out is to look at the daily active players chart on the Steam platform.
Steam is a widely known gaming client for PCs and Linux developed by Valve Corporation, the studio behind iconic games such as Half-Life and Portal. Since 2003 this software has served as an all-in-one community hub, review aggregator, game launcher, and web store for PC gamers. This has, over time, resulted in it achieving a monopoly over the Windows gaming space, with over 70% of all PC games now bought through its web store.
Apex Legends – 413K Daily Active Players
Apex Legends is one of a new generation of esports titles that mixes and matches elements from the different ‘classic’ esports genres. In Apex’s case, it combines the battle royale free for all fun of PUBG and Fortnite, with the hero-shooter mechanics found in Overwatch and VALORANT. Its high daily player count is no doubt suggestive of the fact that developers Respawn Entertainment struck upon a winning formula for their free-to-play hit.
PUBG BattleGrounds – 434K Daily Active Players
Even six years on from its release as an early access title on Steam, PUBG – the infamous mod of a mod – is still going strong as a competitive and multiplayer title on the Windows platform. While the true esports accolades have since moved to its mobile variant, the game is still widely enjoyed and retains its high player count in the face of many imitators. The battle royale par excellence, its combination of mad-cap tactics and realistic physics, have made PUBG an all-time classic.
Dota 2 – 650K Daily Active Players
Dota 2, alongside League of Legends, is the biggest MOBA in the esports space, and represents, alongside CS: GO, the largest esports franchises in the world today. Here, numbers are skewed somewhat by the fact that Riot Games opted to remove League from the Steam platform back in 2010. They did this in order to build their own client and distance themselves from Dota 2. Suffice it to say that League is every bit as popular as Dota 2, and probably more so.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 1.2M Daily Active Players
Seemingly, no game can match the popularity of CS: GO, and even though it competes with MOBAs Dota 2 and League of Legends for out-and-out preeminence in the esports space, its more accessible and broadly appealing genre – the FPS – makes it considerably more popular among the average gamer. This is evidenced by its active player count coming in at almost double Dota 2’s, with an incredible 1.2 million daily active players. This popularity is most certainly set to continue with the newest iteration of the franchise coming this summer, Counter-Strike 2.