How VR will influence eSports industry: motion capture, haptic feedback, biometrics

Author: Anna Demidenko
Feb 27, 2018 | 6 mins to read
esports

eSports takes a significant part in entertainment industry. The article covers the essential issues how it changes under the influence of virtual reality technology. In the previous articles we covered VR entertainment industry and placed special emphasis on location based entertainment.

Here is eSports definition. eSports is a kind of competitive activity and special practice of preparing for competitions based on video games, where the game provides an interaction environment for control objects, providing equal conditions for an one-on-one or team vs. team competition.

eSports is notoriously popular in Russia and even falls into the category of sports.

As reported by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), eSports and virtual reality technologies will be the main sources of income in the global entertainment industry.

According to PwC, at the end of 2016 the revenue of global eSports market was $ 327 m, whereas global VR market was estimated at $ 869 m. The analysts expect that in 2021 these index numbers will reach $ 874 m and $ 15.08 bn respectively.

Global eSports market revenue

So, esports growth forecast has a much more modest pace than VR industry. Nevertheless, it is worth considering that eSports is a ready market in comparison to virtual reality industry. It is quite possible that rapid VR market growth will boost the technology implementing into eSports what in its turn will cause the latter’s rise.

Global VR market

Very different statistics of eSports market is provided by SuperData Research. In particular, the agency claims that worldwide eSports revenues amounted to $ 1.13 bn in 2017. It is much huger numbers than ones that were provided by PwC.

Worldwide eSports revenues

Perhaps the data is so different, because SuperData Research may include into the revenue additional income items from the following list:

  • sponsorships & advertising;
  • prize pools;
  • eSports betting & fantasy sites;
  • amateur & micro-tournaments;
  • ticket sales;
  • merchandise.

Thus, there are reasonable grounds for these areas to develop. It is quite possible that they will develop together. It is very likely in two directions.

The first one is view eSports in virtual reality. It has already started to become wide-spread. Earlier we had described view sport events in virtual reality. One of the first eSports events broadcasted in VR was Intel Extreme Masters. It was tournament on CS:GO and League of Legends, which is held under the direction of the ESL cybersport league. In 2016 ESL signed a partnership agreement with the video service Sliver.tv, within which VR broadcast was organized.

While esports broadcasting the spectator can see matches statistics in real time and the ability to select a camera for viewing, from both the free camera and the player’s point of view. The goal pursued by Sliver.tv is to change the experience of the cybersport viewer forever.

The second application of VR eSports is competing in the virtual reality itself.

In March of 2017 Intel eSports Marketing Manager George Woo said in the interview to VRFocus that he predicted eSports events with people competing wearing VR headsets will be in ten years time. Expecting it, he meant wireless connection, absence of traditional mouse and keyboard, freedom of movement and physical activity.

“We want it to be untethered, almost like a laser tag environment. People running around and being physical but in a virtual space.”

George Woo, Intel eSports Marketing Manager about future of eSports in virtual reality

So far all of the above is difficult to implement. eSports gamers will compete in the real arena instead of remote servers. Players will run among the physical obstacles that appear in the virtual world as a map.

There will be no difference for the spectator watching the game at home. Special observers will set the point of view on the streams. Nevertheless, we do not have the mass technology that allows tracking the position of the whole body in a multiplayer game. More precisely, it exists, but costs too much to be implemented ubiquitously.

Motion capture in eSports

The problem can be solved by a system for capturing the movements of the entire body. One possible way to determine the exact position of the body in each single point in time is smart clothing with MEM’s motion sensors. Such a solution is able to completely simulate user’s body movements in AR/VR environments сreating a digital representation of the user. Such an implementation provides a higher degree of personalisation and allows replicating avatars with a high degree of detalization. In addition, motion capture allows gamers to see other players, and therefore aim more accurately.

Haptic feedback in eSports

For the time being it is too early to speak of haptic feedback in e-sports, but still… Someday it will come into e-sports. Then the very psychology of the game will change. The technology will induce players to think even more, play more carefully, and also choose tactics and strategy carefully.

Biometrics in eSports

For sure, the future of e-sports will be more like professional sports. The physical endurance and speed of running will come into play. Most likely, this will not be just as good for all players. Сonsequently, e-sports will then be divided into different focus areas that are more active or passive from the physical point of view.

When it is so, then necessity of reading in biometric indicators will be imminent. Compression under chest sensor provides electrocardiogram (ECG) technology to monitor heart rate activity. Electromyography sensors that conform to the contours of the body with real-time detailed reading of the muscle activity. User sees which muscles are working hard and which ones are coasting, as well as how the heart rate and breathing are doing.

In addition, eye tracking is being implemented into e-sports. It gives the possibility to identify and anticipate a player’s actions on the ground of the presence and attention. As the result, the game is able to dynamically adjust the events or UI according to where it senses you look. What’s can be even more interesting, it will be possible to understand the player’s way of thinking during live competitions.

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