With most of our industry cooped up at home in quarantine, it feels like we are all hearing about video games every single day. If you’re working from home with kids, you’ve probably heard them talk about a sweet new Minecraft build, the new League of Legends meta (still hoping for AP Blitz to be a real thing one day), or some co-worker to co-worker smack talk about 3v3 gunfight in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (looking at you Todd Heberlein). While traditional entertainment experiences are closed down, online eSports tournaments are exploding in popularity.
Call of Duty has gone so far as to add drop in tournaments every five minutes and organizations like Nerd St Gamers have moved their traditional in person tournaments to an online structure. As game studios, tournament organizers, and fans alike shift their habits, so too should our industry. As such my wonderful team here at Almo, organized yet another webinar via our partners at rAVe and Panasonic. If you missed last week’s webinar and couldn’t make it onto our second showing this week, check out the VOD here! Angie Greene (Almo business development manager), Gary Kayye (Director at THE rAVe Agency), and Stephen Milley discuss the market.
One of the biggest pieces of eSports news, coming in the wake of COVID-19, is a surprise to many and a pleasant reminder of what those “in the know” have seen coming for years. NASCAR announced a shift from physical in person races, to an all-digital eSports model. That’s right you read that correctly, NASCAR is still running races and was ready to switch their model in the blink of an eye. For traditional NASCAR fans this is an unexpected respite from the doom and gloom being pumped into their daily lives. For those of us keyed into gaming, we’ve heard stories of Gran Turismo and Forza (Playstation and Microsoft’s flagship driving simulators) drivers being given “IRL” (in real life) racing careers for years.
But it isn’t just NASCAR that is crossing into the eSports world, the NFL, FIFA, and NBA are all leveraging their relationships with EA and 2K Games to continue providing their fans with unique and engaging cross overs with their eSports league counterparts. As we have discussed in prior webinars and blog posts, this cross pollination is not unique to the COVID-19 crisis but a larger trend that these organizations are using to mitigate the financial pain of our current pandemic-centric lives. COVID is by no means the main driver of this cross pollination, think of it as additional fuel added to the fire.
The takeaway from this story for me is that there are already audiences ripe for changing their viewing patterns. It isn’t just hardcore gamers that are primed and ready to accept modernized variations of traditional entertainment. Kids watch high definition beautiful animation from Pixar and Disney, while dad may be watching the next box office CGI-fueled Marvel film. In today’s day and age, everyone is comfortable engaging with digital media.
Not that long ago it was passé for adults to love superheroes, yet today Marvel tops box office numbers again and again. It may seem niche or not be your particular taste (to each their own) but it isn’t going to just be Call of Duty and Overwatch succeeding. This seems to be even more true as my generation comes into being parents. Part of why we love watching the NFL is that we live vicariously through superhuman athletes. When people my age start having kids, and stop having as much time to play games, eSports will fill that spot for a huge number of people.
You don’t have to love first person shooters and MOBAs to engage in eSports! Keep an eye out for our next esports webinar where we will dive deeper on hardware!