The Most Played Esports Video Games In 2023

Although the esports scene was previously dominated by a good mix of MOBA and fighting video games like Tekken, and Street Fighter, the tides have shifted. Some newcomers are making quite the name for themselves despite them boasting an audience that primarily plays them on mobile devices.

Related: Best Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) Games

As the video game ecosystem continues to evolve globally, you’ll notice some games also stay fairly consistent when it comes to retaining their audience as well. Factors that determine a popular esports title include how many tournaments are held, what the prize pool is, and how many viewers watch that event and keep up with the news surrounding it.

12 Fortnite

players start running towards a built fort with an enemy player on top shooting in Fortnite

Fortnite can do everything CoD and PUBG bring to the table but a little bit better, despite its cartoony aesthetic. It’s one of the most appealing games to children and has been the stage for quite a few digital concerts as well.

Not only that, there are tons of unique ways Fortnite shifted up the standard play model for battle royale games by introducing a building mechanic that switches things up. Pro tournaments aside, the game’s popularity keeps it fairly relevant despite it getting released back in 2017.

11 Call Of Duty

Call of Duty: Mobile Gameplay with an assault rifle, near a car and tree with HUD elements displayed.

With 19 tournaments so far in 2023 and a decent prize pool, the franchise is still just as fresh in the esports realm as ever with almost all of its offerings, including the likes of Call of Duty Mobile and Warzone.

The events Call of Duty hosts get a fair amount of viewership and players from around the globe actively compete head-to-head almost all year round. It maintains a surprising amount of traction despite being a fairly simple FPS, mostly due to the polish that went into the games.

10 Arena Of Valor

A Gameplay Screenshot Of Arena Of Valor Online

As a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game designed specifically for mobile devices, Arena of Valor set itself up for immediate critical success and popularity, especially for modeling its gameplay somewhat after League of Legends.

The game features several game modes and a competitive ladder system that keeps matching fair. It capitalized on the lack of MOBA games on mobile devices and gained a huge following in the process for its initial monopoly. Also, it featured events that kept the player base engaged throughout its tenure.

9 DotA 2

Gameplay Image From MOBA DotA 2

One of the most anticipated events of the year is The International DotA 2 Tournament, which guarantees the winning team a multimillion-dollar cash prize and a ticket to attaining global fame. Despite being one of the toughest MOBA video games out there, DotA 2 is still one of the most popular video games in the industry.

Related: Multiplayer Games With The Highest Player Count

The game features complex and strategic gameplay, with tons of characters to choose from that carry their own unique buffs and weaknesses. The complicated item system and experience farming make it quite challenging to master, hence the best Dota 2 players get a lot of attention for winning.

8 Apex Legends

apex legends free steam games free to play steam battle royale mmo

Building on what Call of Duty and Player Unknown Battle Grounds set up, Apex Legends capitalized on the growing market for battle royale games and delivered a product that not only looked aesthetic but also featured gameplay elements that felt familiar but better, and cross-platform play for the console ports.

The game has a surprisingly dedicated fanbase despite being relatively new and features tournaments and events fairly frequently. Instead of teams or relative unknowns, gamers get the option to choose their own pre-made Legends that come with their own stats and abilities on top of a few quality-of-life gameplay updates over other battle royale games.

7 Rocket League

A Car Scoring A Goal In Rocket League

Football’s one of the most popular sports on the globe, but when you replace all the players with a couple of cars capable of performing tricks, then Rocket League is an irresistible combo that’s taken over and become a huge part of the cultural zeitgeist.

The pro championships and tournaments retain a large fan following, and the prize pools are fairly decent too. There’s just something so aesthetic and cool about watching a rocket car score goals in flashy ways.

6 PUBG Mobile

PUBG Basic Training Start With Blue Arrow

The video game that revolutionized the industry and introduced so many players to the possibility of participating in challenging battle royale matches. PUBG has a mobile port that far outshines the PC version when it comes to the number of committed players actively enjoying the game.

It’s no wonder that it’s now one of the biggest esports tournament hosts and maintains a massive following on mobile devices. This version of the battle royale game has a good amount of traction and the game gets featured on social media websites fairly often. The prize pool is substantial enough to keep players thriving.

5 Valorant

Valorant Gameplay with agent ahead

What if League of Legends was a tactical FPS instead? Riot Games answered that question when they launched Valorant and gained massive success for offering up a game that featured pre-made characters with abilities that forced co-op strategizing and a decent story.

Related: Best Cross-Platform FPS Games

Despite being launched in 2020, Valorant built up a substantial reputation for itself and nabbed a significant player base in a short amount of time. With several tournaments being held annually ever since its release, this video game doesn’t look like it’s losing steam any time soon with its emphasis on cast diversity and homages to team PVP games of the past like Counter-Strike.

4 Rainbow Six Seige

Fenrir holding his MP7 in House

With a focus on superior tactical gameplay and scenarios that mirror real-life close-quarters sieges, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Seige was a critical success once it received a few updates that switched up the gameplay model most tactical FPS players were familiar with already.

With operators and a destructible environment, the game felt fresh and eventually garnered a following of around 70 million. It’s still one of the most engaging shooter video games out there and offers players a complex way to engage in every match-up, hence its consistent popularity.

3 Counter-Strike: GO

Two terrorist players in Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

As one of the oldest games with a dedicated competitive esports scene, CS: GO has always been a popular contender for hosting some of the most anticipated tournaments in the industry. Viewership figures usually skyrocket around the time The Majors roll around.

Despite its age, fairly simple maps, and old-school combat/gameplay, CS: GO’s managed to stay consistent with the amount of traction it generates annually. The prize pools are fairly substantial, and the competitive scene is pretty healthy.

2 League Of Legends

Multiplayer match in League of Legends

A video game that was originally planned to be a successor to a Warcraft III mod called DotA took the world by storm when it was launched back in 2009. It had polished graphics, a large roster, and constant almost bi-weekly updates.

League of Legends was a smash hit and raised the bar when it comes to MOBA games, which made gamers flock to it in droves, and thus became one of the most popular titles with a dedicated esports scene in the industry ever since.

1 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang

Mobile Legends Bang Bang Battlefield Overview

Although Mobile Legends: Bang Bang didn’t revolutionize the MOBA gaming scene and featured gameplay that mostly mirrored what League of Legends had to offer, it still brought something new to the table when it introduced skins that featured prominent pop culture characters that captivated a Southeast Asian audience.

The mobile video game despite its shortcomings is one of the most popular esports titles on the planet, with a steadily growing player base and several league tournaments like the M-series racking up record-breaking viewership.

Next: Best Tactical Strategy Games For Beginners