The international iGaming and eSports industry is thriving despite the widespread economic catastrophe caused by the Coronavirus. Gaming provides an engaging distraction for individuals at home seeking social interaction with the practice of social distancing, which reduces consumer and business activity to a minimum.
With a large number of people living indoors, gaming and sports fans all over the world have turned to video games made available in the age of the pandemic. Undoubtedly, the lockdown has boosted iGaming and Esports user involvement. Increased demand for video games and increased awareness of sports contribute to the growth of its market. As technology is expanding, video content, products, and competitions are escalating. It turned out to be a transit of pop culture and a transformation of the way that young people consume entertainment. Simply put, people spend more time watching sports in isolation, resulting in higher spending.
FortuneZ.com, a global digital media publication covering markets, iGaming, eSports, sports betting, blockchain and cryptocurrency news recently shared their thoughts on the iGaming and eSports industry amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sharing statistics based on their research, it seems to be that the global video game market is forecast to be worth $159 billion in 2020, around four times box office revenues ($43 billion in 2019) and almost three times music industry revenues ($57 billion in 2019). The biggest market by revenue is Asia-Pacific with almost 50% of the games market by value. North America accounts for a quarter of revenue.
Internet providers have scrambled to shore up their networks in the face of surging demand. Gaming traffic on Verizon's network shot up an "unprecedented" 75% in the space of a week, the US telco said recently.
"We're tracking the ongoing outbreak and its influence on the global games market. Evaluating a full impact on games revenue is premature at this time. The (self) imposed quarantine measures have increased consumer playtime and money spent on gaming. Simply put, people are spending more time playing video games during the isolation, which leads to higher spending", said a chief executive officer of FortuneZ, Maria Khramtsova.
She continued by saying, "We have been actively following and reporting the industry's movements and it appears to be moving in an upward trend despite the pandemic. The cancellation of games conferences does hurt independent developers; however, these events are essential gatherings for industry professionals to secure partnerships. We recently collaborated with SiGMA, the organizers of the world's leading iGaming, artificial intelligence, and blockchain events. While people are moving away from public gatherings, the SiGMA Americas virtual summit held last week from September 22-23, 2020 was a success. The 2-day online conference saw over 90 top speakers from diverse sectors of the LatAm gaming and tech industry, with an attendance of over 5,000 delegates and industry players from across the globe."
With that being said, several high-profile sports leagues, from NASCAR, NBA to Europe's F1, have replaced their physical cancelled events with digital-ones. NASCAR, for example, has replaced an entire physical race with a virtual version- eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series with 35 real-life NASCAR drivers playing a digital NASCAR video game.
Similarly, F1 authorities announced that it would now host an esports series- the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix with a few of the existing F1 drivers alongside several other stars and FIFA recently launched the Stay and Play Cup from April 15 – 19, which is a unique concept in video gaming. Players from 20 of Europe's biggest football clubs like Atletico de Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, etc play together virtually on Twitch.
Meanwhile, chief operating officer of FortuneZ, Francine Jansen said, "One of esports' greatest advantages is that it can be played without participants being physically co-located. We have seen incredible stories of professional teams and athletes turning to esports simulation to meet the demand for content. Highlights include F1 drivers hosting online races using rFactor 2 and F1 2019, the NBA Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks replacing a cancelled match with an NBA 2K20 match, and Spanish football stars Borja Iglesias and Sergio Reguilón playing a FIFA20 show match."
"The most anticipated esports events, taking that into account, are usually live events. We have seen several large-scale esports activities being either cancelled, delayed, or held without audiences. We do not expect a tangible impact on revenues from sponsorship and media rights, as most sponsorship deals and media purchases occurred before the outbreak."
Looking to the long-term, there are several takeaways from the recent spike in iGaming and eSports that indicate future transformations in the industry.
The greater interest in gaming may accelerate a shift – already underway – towards the delivery of games via mobile and cloud-based platforms. Increasingly, even blockbuster titles are available on mobile devices. Cloud gaming, meanwhile, enables consumers to play streamed games across devices, often without the need for expensive hardware.
In view of the fact that the virus is likely to remain for a while, we can expect the sports industry to continue its upward trend in revenue growth. In short, we are looking at a post-pandemic gaming world with a steady stream of new competitions, titles and publishers.