Given the current situation, it is no surprise that the world has rightly been putting human safety at the forefront when making decisions. It has impacted every facet of everyday life, including work, shopping and socialising.
Live sporting events have been a casualty, nearly every sport in the world has witnessed either postponement or cancellations of their respective seasons. It is in these times that we are starting to see esports grow to fill the void left by their real-life counterparts as fans have to choose between watching their teams play virtually or turn to crypto gambling online to pass the time. Indeed, while real-life sports are surrounded by uncertainty, esports have started to boom, strengthening their position.
The Rise and Rise of Gaming and eSports
Gaming, in general, is recording records being broken regularly. Steam has broken its all-time concurrent player record three times in a row over the past few months – on 2nd February they had 18.8 million concurrent users, on 15th March they had just over 20 million concurrent users, and on 15th March they had more than 22 million concurrent users. That has been smashed again, as Steam is now recording over 23.5 million concurrent users. While Steam is the leading PC market place and launcher for PC games, it is safe to assume that Epic Game Store, GOG and their other competitors are experiencing similar rising figures as people are being locked down in their homes.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has also broken its all-time record when they recorded 1 million concurrent players while also hosting one of the most-watched esports competitions in history.
More and more people are turning to watch people play games, particularly games seen in esports. The esports calendar seems to grow every day, while Twitch’s viewership has gone up by 10% and YouTube Gaming’s audience has gone up by 15%. Impressive numbers.
It’s no surprise to see a surge in games being bought online as people are unable to make purchases from brick and mortar stores. Entertainment Software Association has stated that 79% of all games bought are purchased online, and that figure is likely to be even higher now given lead-in times for items from Amazon.
Things would have been very different a few decades ago, but players can now buy, download and play games from the comfort of their own homes, and can also communicate with their friends and stream or watch streams of games without having to go outside. 2020 isn’t so bad after all.
Real Sports are Making the Jump to eSports
Formula One has lead the way for real sports, as they have created a purely online esports alternative to their cancelled races. There will now be an esports version of every race of the season, taking the sport virtual. These races will be streamed live via Twitch and YouTube. Bonafide racing stars have also been confirmed to be participating, including Max Verstappen.
If the coronavirus continues to disrupt the world of sport, it will be interesting to see whether other sports make the jump into esports.
Many football (soccer to the Americans) teams have invested heavily into their own professional esports teams. It would be great if these teams were pitted against each other virtually and broadcast on commercial television stations. It seems like a pipedream at the moment, but would not be beyond the realms of reality if the lockdown continues longer than expected.
If the NFL, rugby, cricket, golf, tennis and other sports got behind the esports scene, we could be seeing not only a surge in the number of people watching esports, but also the rise of esports as a popular alternative to real-world sports.
The esports industry is one of the few to benefit from the current situation. As the weeks roll on, more and more people are likely to tune into watching esports and, who knows, it might only be a matter of times before larger companies take notice and esports become even more mainstream.