Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox Division is anticipating a big future for professional competitive gaming, stating at the recent Halo World Championship that he believes the eSports scene will eventually become as popular as traditional athletic sports such as football and basketball.
“I think for the industry, eSports is going to be as big as regular sports,” he said. “You look at the number of people who play games, you look at the different platforms people are playing on, you look at the money that’s pouring in, the broadcasts.”
Spencer’s optimism is rooted in the far lower degree of exclusivity in gaming. “It’s so accessible–anybody can play a game,” he said. “I think there’s no cap to what eSports can become. Unlike any other sport, you just sit down, grab a controller, and start playing games and build your skills.”
In his position as head of Xbox, Spencer has seen the growth of organised competitive gaming over the years.
“I think about us back on the original Xbox, plugging wires together,” he said. “My eSport was, ‘Could I beat the guys in my dorm room?’ Now, people are making a living playing Halo. It’s great to see how the community comes together to support eSports. It’s real. It’s fantastic.”
Pro Gaming team CLG secured a crushing 4-0 victory over opponents Allegiance at the 2016 Halo World Champion, taking home the first place trophy and the $1 million prize pool. The prize pool – partially funded by Halo 5: Guardians‘ req pack microtransactions – was the largest in console gaming history, according to Microsoft.
An exciting new Halo Championship Series: Pro League has also been announced, featuring a “Challenger League”, which will allow players anywhere to attempt to beat the world’s most skilled teams.
Watch the full stream of the 2016 Halo World Championship below: