Riot Games’ Valorant is only a little over a year old now, and the esport continues to gain momentum, having reached 14 million monthly players in June. The game’s first international LAN tournament also drew more than 1 million concurrent viewers (which ranks it close to other top esports such as LoL), numerous pros have moved on from CS:GO to compete in Valorant, and Riot’s shooter has been at the forefront of the women in esports movement.
Trend chasing carries inherent risks, but it’s not surprising to see established studios looking to capitalize on the growing hero shooter category. Ubisoft recently unveiled a new title in the Tom Clancy franchise, XDefiant, which is currently going through its first public PC test. Games media have described it as a cross between Overwatch and Call of Duty, as it pits teams of six against each other, and players can select different character classes, each with unique weapons, abilities, and cooldown-based powers, including “ultras.” There’s no firm release date set.
Meanwhile, Halo and Destiny creator Bungie appears to be crafting a new “multiplayer action game,” according to a recent job listing specifically mentioning “experience working on character-focused action games” as well as “familiarity with the competitive gaming landscape/esports.” There has been no official announcement, but Bungie said back in February that it intends to launch a new IP some time before 2025 while remaining committed to long-term development for the Destiny franchise.
Notably, Bungie hasn’t updated its PvP mode, Crucible, in almost two years, but the developer has a chance to build new IP from the ground up that puts PvP gameplay at its core and gives the studio a better chance at gaining a more significant esports presence. For Ubisoft, not only can the publisher build on its esports experience with Rainbow Six Siege, but XDefiant leverages characters across its Tom Clancy games, which could enable the company to solidify its approach to universe building.
Interpret’s Esports Replay™ shows why game companies are likely to try their hand at hero shooters more than other genres, as 18% of the US population has played a console/PC shooter in the past three months compared to 7% who have played a MOBA title like LoL.