top of page
  • Writer's picturebrillopedia

ESPORTS IN THE 21st CENTURY: A LOOK AT THE HISTORY, GROWTH, AND LEGAL IMPLICATION


Author: Akshay chaudhary, V Year of B.A.,LL.B from The Maharaja sayajirao University.


Introduction 

The eSports business is the fastest-growing entertainment sector. It is expected to grow exponentially in the next decade to reach $1.5 billion in annual revenues. Esports fans have become a key demographic targeted by brands seeking to align with this highly engaged audience. Expectations are skyrocketing for both consumers and brands alike, resulting in increased media coverage and attention to many aspects of the industry, including prize pools.

They are being streamed live on Twitch and YouTube and even participate in key marketing activities for companies such as Coca-Cola, Alienware, and McDonald’s.



World History 

Esports, or electronic sports, refers to the competitive play of video games. The origins of esports can be traced back to the 1970s and 1980s, when video games began to gain a following and tournaments were held at arcades. These early tournaments were usually local events and attracted a few participants.


One of the first significant esports tournaments was the Space Invaders Championship, which Atari held in 1980. More than 10,000 people took part in this tournament. This event was a turning point for esports because it showed that video game competitions could be enormous.

In the 1990s, the rise of the internet and faster computers allowed for online multiplayer gaming, further fueling esports’ growth. This led to the creation of professional esports leagues and organizations. Live-streaming platforms like Twitch have also made it possible for a larger audience to watch esports events.

Over the past decade, esports has exploded in popularity and has become a mainstream phenomenon. Major tournaments and leagues have been created for various games, and many of these tournaments offer significant prize pools. 


In 2011: The International Dota 2 Championship was held, with a prize pool of over $1 million. This event, organized by Valve Corporation, has become one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world of esports.


In 2013: The League of Legends World Championship was held, with a prize pool of over $2 million. This event, organized by Riot Games, has become one of the most popular esports tournaments in the world.


In 2018: The Asian Games, a major international multi-sport event, included esports as a demonstration sport for the first time. It marked the first time that esports was recognized as a legitimate sport by a significant organization.


In 2019: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that video games could be a sport and that they would show them at the 2022 Asian Games. It marked a significant milestone in recognizing esports as a legitimate sport.



History of Indian esports 

The history of esports in India is relatively short compared to other countries, but it has undergone several changes and stages over the years. Indian esports has been around ever since the late 1990s, with Counter-Strike being popular among the players. In recent years, the mobile gaming market has exploded, and so did esports in India. The coronavirus pandemic led to a surge in online gaming and esports, as people were forced to stay home during recovery. It led to many new tournaments, leagues, prizes, and investments in the Indian esports scene.


Esports meets several of Guttman’s characteristics for a gaming activity to be considered a sport, including secularism, as they have no religious ties; equality, as players are judged solely on their skill regardless of their gender, race, or other characteristics; bureaucracy, through the presence of organizations like the Korean esports Association (KESPA) that regulate the industry; rationality, through the use of data and statistics to make decisions; specialization, as players are specialized in a specific game or role within a team; physicality, through the high level of intellectual, physical, and motor skills required to compete; and the pursuit of records.



The Legal Implications of Esports Contracts: What Players Need to Know

Esports players’ contracts can vary greatly depending on the game, team, and organization involved. However, some common elements are often included in esports player contracts:


Salary: Many esports players receive a salary for their participation on a team. It can range from a few thousand dollars per year for players on smaller teams to hundreds of thousands per year for the best players in the world.


Prize money: In addition to their salary, many esports players also receive a share of any prize money won by their team. Prize pools for esports tournaments can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the game and level of competition.


Sponsorship deals: Many esports players have sponsorship deals with companies that provide them additional income. These deals can include endorsements, merchandise sales, and other forms of compensation.


Benefits: Some esports player contracts may include health insurance, travel expenses, and training facilities.


Length of contract: Esports player contracts can range from a few months to several years.


Termination: Most esports player contracts include provisions for the player to be released from the contract if certain circumstances occur, such as the team disbanding or the player leaving the team.



Important Contractual Considerations for Esports Players

There are several critical contractual considerations for esports players to be aware of. These include what the players must do for their fans, such as going to events and talking to them. They also have rules about what they should do at social events and during games. Players should also be aware of any policies regarding competitive integrity, such as match-fixing, doping, and gambling. In disputes, players should be aware of the laws in place. Additionally, players should pay attention to image rights, personality rights, and intellectual property assignment clauses, which can impact their ownership of trademarks, content creation, gaming accounts, and social media accounts. Finally, players should be aware of the terms of termination in their contracts, including the availability of notice and appeal and the consequences of non-compete clauses and disciplinary processes.


Players unhappy with contracts for 2018 Asian Games esports tournament.”

The Esports Federation of India (ESFI) had a player contract for the 2018 Asian Games that was widely criticized for being unfair to the players. Many people, including lawyers, saw the contract as a poorly-made template with inadequate legal protections for the players. It requires players to pay for their travel and medical insurance. It also gives ESFI and the Asian Esports Federation (ASFI) the right to use the images of the players for any purpose. The contract also said that ESFI would only pay the players if they followed the contract. It also said that the players could only leave the competition if they paid. It also said that ESFI was not responsible for any accidents or damages that might happen to the players. It also said that the players would have to pay the federation for any damages they got. The contract also allowed ESFI to change the terms and conditions without telling the players. It also allowed ESFI to leave the tournament for any reason at all. Overall, the contract prioritizes the interests of ESFI over those of the players.



Intellectual Property

Video games are often very complex things, with many lines of code, many different characters and stories, and sometimes real-life people or things (like celebrities) appear in the game, and third-party products and trademarks are put on them. Intellectual property protection is critical for protecting investments and potential returns. Furthermore, mid-tier games are frequently developed with millions of dollars invested, but AAA games might cost hundreds of millions. The large amounts of money invested in high-profile video games raise the stakes for intellectual property protection.


In India, video games are not classified as a specific type of intellectual property under the Copyright Act of 1957. However, according to Section 2 of the Copyright Act, a “cinematography work” is defined as any work of visual recording on any medium created through a procedure from which a moving picture may be produced by any means, including video films, shall be construed as including any work produced by any process equivalent to cinematography.”


There are several standard contractual requirements related to esports. According to the Copyright Act of India, the person who creates a computer-generated work, such as a video game, is called the “author” and has the right to make money from it. However, the owner of the work (usually the publisher of the game) can give another party the rights to the work. It can be done through a contract called an assignment contract. In addition, performers’ rights, which protect the visual and acoustic presentations made by live performers, were added to the Copyright Act in 2012. These rights may provide some protection for esports players, but their application in this context is still largely untested.



The Challenges and Issues 

Esports has exploded in popularity recently, with professional players competing in tournaments and competitions worldwide. However, being an esports player is not all fun and games - there are many issues that players need to navigate to succeed.


One major issue that esports players face is intellectual property. With so much proprietary software and content being used in games, players must understand their rights and responsibilities regarding these valuable assets. It includes being aware of any licensing or assignment agreements that may be in place.


Another critical concern for esports players is competition and fairness. Tournaments and competitions can be fiercely competitive, and all players must have a level playing field to compete. It includes issues such as match-fixing and doping, which can undermine the integrity of the competition and lead to unfair advantages for some players.


Player welfare is also an essential consideration for esports players. To be successful in the industry, players must take care of their mental and physical health. They should also be aware of any possible abuse. Players must have access to resources and support to help them thrive in their careers.


Legal and regulatory issues can also be a challenge for esports players, as the industry is still in its early stages, and laws and regulations may sometimes be different all the time. Inclusivity and diversity are also critical issues in the esports world, and all players must have the opportunity to participate and succeed, no matter their background or identity. As the industry continues to grow and gain mainstream recognition, it is essential to consider the ethical implications of the industry, including addiction, violence, and gambling.


Cheating: Cheating in professional esports is unacceptable and can lead to severe consequences. Depending on the league’s policies and local laws, cheating may result in the automatic forfeit of a game, bans on participation, fines, or even criminal prosecution. These penalties are put in place to ensure the integrity of the competition and to maintain the trust of the players and spectators. Esports players must understand the rules and regulations surrounding cheating and always play fairly. If a player is accused of cheating, esports lawyers may be called upon to determine whether the rules or laws were broken and if the player’s actions were legal.


Boosting: Boosting is a form of cheating that happens in online games. A player can log into another player’s account and win matches to improve the ranking of the other player’s account. This practice is considered cheating because it undermines the fairness and integrity of the competition. In some countries, boosting is taken very seriously and can even result in criminal penalties. For example, in South Korea, boosting is punishable by a fine or a jail sentence of up to two years. South Korea has a large and thriving esports market, so the government has taken steps to regulate the industry and ensure fair play.


Overall, it is clear that cheating in esports is not tolerated and that penalties for cheating can be severe. In addition to the policies and regulations that individual leagues have, the use of technology and online platforms means that additional measures are in place to detect and prevent cheating—just like in traditional sports, maintaining the integrity of the competition is essential for the success and growth of esports.




Conclusion and suggestion 

In conclusion, the esports industry is a rapidly growing sector with a rich history and a bright future. With an estimated $1.5 billion in annual revenues, esports has become a significant player in the entertainment industry. Brands are trying to find a place to sell their products and services in esports. Major tournaments and leagues have been created for various games, with significant prize pools for top players. The growth of esports has been fueled by the rise of online multiplayer gaming and the broadcast of esports events to a larger audience through live-streaming platforms like Twitch. The International Olympic Committee has recognized esports as a legitimate sport. Its inclusion as a demonstration event at the Asian Games is a testament to the industry’s mainstream success and recognition. In India, the history of esports is relatively short but has become more prevalent in recent years because of the mobile gaming market and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite facing some challenges and controversies, esports is well-positioned to continue its growth and evolution as a mainstream form of entertainment and competition.


Some suggestions for improving the esports industry could include the following:


  • Developing and implementing standardized regulations for esports tournaments and leagues to ensure fair play and player safety.

  • Investing in infrastructure and venues for esports, such as dedicated esports arenas to players and fans with a more immersive and engaging experience.

  • Focusing on building a more inclusive and diverse esports community to ensure that all players are represented, regardless of race, gender, or other characteristics.

  • Encouraging more educational and career opportunities for esports players and coaches to attract and retain top talent in the industry.

  • Investing in the research and development of new technologies that could enhance the esports experience, such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

  • Developing and implementing standardized regulations for the industry to prevent match-fixing, fraud, and other issues.

  • Promoting the mental and physical well-being of esports players to counter the risks of long-hour gaming.

  • Encouraging the traditional sports industry and the esports industry to work together to share knowledge and resources and create more opportunities for fans.

By addressing these areas, the industry can continue to grow, attract new fans and sponsors, and protect the rights of players and fans. The overall experience of esports for all stakeholders will be improved by doing this.



Reference











Comments


bottom of page