Esports vs traditional football
By Guest writer, Fri 30 November 2018 17:03
Can competitive video gaming ever replace the beautiful game?
Competitive video gaming for money is on the rise. The esport industry is growing rapidly, with millions of participants and viewers, and is currently thought to generate around £700m per annum. This figure is likely to exceed a billion pounds a year by 2021.
In 2017 60,000 people watched an esport event at Beijing's iconic Bird Nest Stadium, and recent research suggests that the global audience will hit 380m people this year.
Football clubs are keen to tap into this ever growing market, and in 2016 Manchester City signed Kieran "Kez" Brown as their first esports player.
Diego Gigliani, vice-president of media and innovation at Manchester City, said at the time: "As esports continues to gain momentum, it makes sense for our club to be part of the action and get closer to our fans, who love playing EA Sports Fifa as Manchester City.
"We will be a bigger presence at gaming tournaments, we will have more content through our digital channels and we will activate even more with our fans at matches and club events."
It is thought the appeal for clubs investing in esports is twofold: revenue, obviously, and exposure.
However, it seems unlikely that esport football will usurp traditional football any time soon. The recent Manchester derby, won 3-1 by City, was watched by a huge global TV audience, and the Blues were valued at over £500m in the latest Deloitte study. Whilst esports will undoubtedly play a role in the future development of football clubs, it will never truly replace the beautiful game in the hearts of fans.