AliBaba has just made it very clear that violent games will not be considered for esports' Olympic bid.
For many esports gamers and fans alike, the inclusion of esports in the Olympics has always just been a pipe dream. That is, until the co-president of the Paris bid committee threw down the gauntlet last year, and said that he would start up a discourse with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the inclusion of esports in the Games' roster.
But in a pretty major blow to gamers around the world, the IOC has made it very clear how esports are going to be handled. If we are ever to see esports hit the big time, the competitive gaming phenomenon will not include games that made the sport renowned in the first place, after violence was ruled out of the running by AliBaba.
AliBaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is a sponsor of the Olympic Games through to 2028, and invested $US47 million to help host the upcoming World Electronic Sports Games taking place this weekend. The firm is arguably the largest third-party company pushing for esports' Olympic-inclusion.
“In our communication with the Olympic Committee, we've come to have a better understanding of their values, which is to promote peace,” Zhang Dazhong, AliSports CEO told Bloomberg. “That's why for the future development of esports, we will focus more on titles that are actually related to sports, instead of games that focus on violence and slaughter.”
The exclusion of violent video games means that the majority of esports games enjoyed today will be eliminated from consideration. According to a report conducted by Nielsen last year, the most popular PC esports game is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, followed by League of Legends, Dota 2, Starcraft and Heroes of the Storm. Most of these, and potentially StarCraft too, will be instantly ruled out. Add in other popular titles like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Rocket League and Grand Theft Auto, and all you're left with is FIFA and tamer racing games.
This doesn't come entirely as a surprise, as the IOC has seemed very keen on excluding esports from the Games for a while now. This was something made clear in an interview with the South China Morning Post. Thomas Bach, the IOC president said: “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence and peace among people. This doesn't match with video games which are about violence, explosions and killing.”
While it's a strange statement to make, considering the Olympics has some pretty violent sports in it, it does mean that the pool of eligible video games are very slim indeed. So while esports may one day be included at the Olympic Games, will it really be the esports many people know and love on a pale imitation?