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August 14, 2013updated 22 Sep 2016 2:19pm

Top 5: Online Video Games

Virtual worlds; real money

By Ben Sullivan

As e-sports team ‘Alliance’ wins over one million dollars in a DOTA 2 tournament, we look at some of the most popular online games where real money is big business.



The prize money awarded from this year’s DOTA 2 tournament stands at the highest ever single-event prize awarded for video games.


5. League of Legends

League of Legends is a an online battle arena video game the inspired by the mod Defense of the Ancients for the video game Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.

It is a free-to-play game, and has long been a focus of public competition.

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The 2010 World Cyber Games Grand Finals in Los Angeles hosted a League of Legends tournament, at which teams from China, Europe, and the America competed. The Counter Logic Gaming team from North America won the tournament, earning a $7,000 prize

Competitive play then reached new heights at the Season 1 World Championships in June 2011. The event, held at at Dreamhack in Sweden, featured $100,000 in prizes. T

After Season 1, Riot announced that $5,000,000 would be paid out over Season 2. Of this 5 million, 2 million would go to the founding company’s partners and other eSports associations.

On July 11, 2013, one of the publisher’s managers Nick Allen announced that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services now recognizes League of Legends pro-players as professional athletes and the visa application process is now simplified for them. These changes allow professional players to stay in the United States for up to 5 years.

3. DOTA 2

Dota 2 is a battle arena video game consisting of online multiplayer matches, in which two teams of five players attempt to destroy their opponents’ fortified strongholds.

Each player controls a "Hero" character and, over the course of an individual game, focuses on improving their hero’s abilities, acquiring items, and fighting against the other team.

To ensure the transition of DotA players to Dota 2, Valve invited and sponsored sixteen of the most accomplished teams to compete and showcase the game’s capabilities with its public debut at The International, a global championship hosted at Gamescom 2011 in Cologne, Germany, with a grand prize of one million dollars. The International became an annual championship tournament, with the venue changing to Seattle, Washington.

Via the sales of interactive compendiums, The International claimed the largest prize pool in electronic sports history, exceeding the two million dollar prize pool from the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship.



2. Eve Online

Eve Online is a MMORPG set in space in the far future. The game is all connected by one massive server, and pilots control ships through over 7,500 star systems in the ‘universe’.

Much like other online games, Eve revolves around combat and ‘mining’ to earn in-game currency, with the game reaching 500,000 subscribers in February 2013.

In July, a ginormous 4000 player battle took place in one of the star systems, laying waste to more than $15,000 (£10,000) worth of player ships. The two sides were fighting for control of resources within several of the game’s solar systems.

"These kinds of conflicts are business as usual in Eve but this one was bigger than normal," said James Binns from the PCGamesN website.

"It’s a fascinating online world and its constant drama is nothing like any other game," he said.

With real money able to be used to buy in-game currency via game time cards, a lot of people invest a lot of money into Eve so these stories are always big news in the gaming world.


4. Starcraft II

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is the military science fiction real-time strategy sequel to the original Starcraft. The game revolves around three species: the Terrans, human exiles from Earth; the Zerg, a super-species of assimilated life forms and the Protoss, a technologically advanced species with vast mental powers.

Starcraft II became the fastest selling real-time strategy game of all time, with three million copies sold worldwide in the first month of sale in 2010.

A predecessor, StarCraft: Brood War has been called the most successful e-sport in the world that includes its own ranking system, and it has been referred to as the national past time in South Korea, where there are two television channels dedicated to broadcasting professional StarCraft matches.

Since its launch, StarCraft II has become a successful e-Sport in its own right, with many leagues of ongoing tournaments with prize-pools up to $170,000.


1. World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is the most popular and successful MMORPG of all time. With a massive 7 million subscribers all paying monthly subscriptions to Blizzard Entertainment, WoW is a hug success story in the world of gaming.

New features are constantly being introduced to the world’s largest MMO, and with the practically unlimited funding that millions upon millions of subscribers provide, it’s nearly impossible for some of the closest competitors to even get close.

Players have been known in WoW to sell their in-game gold for real money, and although not advised by Blizzard’s terms of service, it’s big business with people actually making a living from earning in-game gold in World of Warcraft.

Every time subscription numbers start to drop, a new expansion, fully laden with new characters and quests, comes to light sucks all of the addicts back into WoW’s unescapable claws.

Until something both revolutionary and unbelievably shiny steps in to rescue some of the diehard fans, the end of WoW’s monopoly is nowhere in sight.




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