The Coronavirus continues to take lives and drive the world’s population indoors. Staying safe from infection means remaining at home with little more to do than watch TV and play video games. And maybe do a little work from home. But who does that, really?
Here’s a roundup of some of the events that happened this week due to the Coronavirus.
Esports is proven to be a vital form of entertainment
Of everything that drives industry forward, disruption is what does it best. Esports has seen significant boosts in the last month due to the Coronavirus. Traditional sports are cancelled, so many have now turned to esports as an alternative form of entertainment.
Still, esports felt a similar impact from the Coronavirus. Myriad events that required a physical presence, such as LAN tournament, found themselves cancelled. This included events for Dota 2, League of Legends, Overwatch, and more. For a time, it seemed as though esports would go the same was as traditional sports and be cancelled entirely until the pandemic subsided. But then came the adoption of online-only events. Esports is pretty resilient in comparison to traditional esports. There’s always another way to get professional teams to face off against one another.
The play-from-home format is what esports originally formed from. So it’s only natural that the industry return to its early origins. Here’s a breakdown of numbers according to Forbes:
- Steam saw a record 20.3 million concurrent gamers.
- Call of Duty: Warzone saw 15 million players in its first three days.
- CS:GO’s Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice had a peak viewership that reached more than one million.
- NASCAR’s iRacing events attracted more than a million viewers for its racing events.
Sports betting is all but gone, but not for esports
Of everything that first felt the effect of the Coronavirus, it was esports events. Myriad tournaments were cancelled in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. It was not until several sports athletes came down with the virus that all traditional sports gradually followed suit.
Bayes Esports Solutions estimated that since then, sports betting was down over 60%, as much as 90% for some bookmakers. Said Mark Balch, head of product and partnership for BES, “It really is a scramble to find any content anywhere in the world for pretty much everyone involved in the business.” On betting sites, the last sports still being held include Belarusian soccer and Russian table tennis. Even then, those sports have not much longer to survive.
Sports sims typically achieved second place to core esports, such as shooters or MOBA titles. To traditional sports watchers, such games are quite confusing. But games like FIFA and NBA 2K make sense to people, which is why folks have taken up betting on such esports. A good portion of sports viewership is currently focused on racing simulations. One example of this is NASCAR’s Pro Invitational Sereies, which earned a 0.81 Nielsen rating and attracted 1.33 million viewers on March 22.
Betting companies have now taken to esports titles as an alternative method of making money. Not only do these games run rife with opportunity toward betting, but they also attract a very sizable audience.
Jones Soda turns to esports marketing
Due to the current hiatus on traditional sports, many companies and organizations are turning to esports. Livestreaming platforms like Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming have seen significant upticks in viewership for the first quarter of 2020. But companies that traditionally sponsored sporting events have had to look elsewhere to reach their marketing quotas.
Sponsorship of traditional, live sporting events isn’t an option for marketers. But for many businesses, online events now represent a new and exciting opportunity. One brand that made the switch includes Seattle-based Jones Soda. The brand began its foray into esports as the title sponsor for the Last chance Qualifier competition in The Race All-Star Series. This sim racing virtual championship first began on March 21 and streamed events each Saturday for five weeks to both Twitch and YouTube.
This marks just one of many companies trying to be agile in their marketing as traditional sports is no longer an option.
Gareth Bale raises money for Covid-19 battle with esports event
Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale just took part in an online tournament aimed at raising money for the fight against the Coronavirus. This event also attracted the talents of Juventus star Paulo Dybala, Wales’ Daniel James, and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. The event, aptly titled “Combat Corona” was organized by 38 entertainment, which co-owns Bale’s recently-launched esports organization Ellevens Esports.
The event raised more than £18,000 for charities such as UNICEF. Regarding the event, Bale had this to say: “It’s the least we can do to raise money and battle this virus. Obviously everyone is stuck at home and trying to stay safe so leet’s try and raise as much money as we can.”
Football is one of the many traditional sports suspended across the world due to the pandemic. So many fans turned to the world of esports to keep themselves entertained. During the Combat Corona event, Paulo Dybala ultimately beat Bale. This comes even after Dybala recently recovered from the Coronavirus himself. The final score amounted to 3-1, and both athletes admitted that they had not played the FIFA title for some time before.
But it’s ultimately “about keeping staying home and finding things to do,” according to Bale. Every little event helps to pass the time. And if it helps raise money for charity, all the better.