One genre in particular that certainly could have fit on our honourable mentions list for esports history, has to be within sporting games, but it may have been a little unfair as they’re starting to cover some more ground in numbers. Whilst not one title in particular, but a few, sporting games are starting to emerge and grow and certainly deserve a spot on this list for the role they’re having in certain spaces.
The two big games that fit this list are within NBA and FIFA – both are receiving direct investments from the NBA and the Premier League respectively to build a scene in the esports landscape. Furthermore, franchises from both sports have been directly involved in creating their own rosters for these games too, whilst also branching out to others. The big success from these titles has largely come over the past year, however, with major sporting events being postponed and cancelled, many fans were looking for alternatives, and these games provided the perfect outlet.
Not only are both more familiar to the casual viewer, as the sports themselves are more widely known, but many of the viewers had also actively played these games during free time on their own consoles. As such, it’s easy to see why both were able to grow so quickly. Throw in the familiarity with other markets such as the growing esports betting market particularly around sporting games, and the emerging market is easy to see.
Both do have challenges to overcome, however, much like a topic we covered with Call of Duty. Both games rely on yearly releases with little change to the game as a whole, whilst this does allow competition to stay the same as core mechanics don’t change, it may be harder for some to follow along as yearly title releases fragment the audience as a whole. It’s too early to say if this will be true for the NBA and FIFA, but as it has already been seen in other sports it is a likely casualty of the release model.
Although the big winner here is certainly the fandom that will continue to grow – attitudes toward gaming have changed a lot in recent years, and whilst the die-hard fans will be a little slower to adapt to the change, it’s hard to say that most won’t at least explore the growing esports scene for sports gaming as the professional players begin to endorse it too. Some have already done so, with players like Neymar Jr. actively streaming games such as Counter-Strike, and so there’s certainly an opportunity for teams to have their big stars push support for these games.
Similarly, the investment and infrastructure opportunities do help too. With long established positions in both broadcasting and event hosting, there’s plenty of talent to ensure that sports based esports have everything needed to move forward and grow in the way other big emerging names are.
It’s still very early, however. Only in the past few years have sporting genres found a growing audience and it’ll be some time yet before they still widely catch on. Other big names in the industry have had over a decade to reach their spot up high, all in all it will largely be a matter of support, and with the internal support being so high the external support from fans will surely follow quickly.