The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented and upsetting situation with the Coronavirus COVID-19 disease. Categorised by the WHO as a pandemic, the outbreak has severely affected directly and indirectly nearly all aspects of our lives. One of them is the sports sector. This sphere has been massively hit following measures put in place to control the disease. However, for esports, it is actually a mixed bag of good and bad as far as the impacts are concerned.
Traditional sports meet esports
First and foremost, there was the development of crossover sporting events. These events arose from the marriage between traditional sports and esports. An example is when the NFL held a tournament involving actual players at the gaming consoles. The MLB and NBA also came up with similar events. Formula 1 then launched the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix, where real drivers participated. Some of these tournaments went live, thereby introducing spectators of traditional sports to the marvels of virtual contests.
Increased esports betting
The COVID-19 restrictions led to the disruption of many traditional sporting events that mostly generated revenue to bookmakers. Therefore many bookies had to adapt by diversifying into esports betting. The results were a sharp increase in online betting sites registrations by bettors who were mostly held indoors. For example, the esports bookmaker, Luckbox, realised its aspirations of listing on the Toronto stock Exchange. This is after they had posted an astounding 500% increase in betting on esports since the shutdown started.
Increased viewership of esports
According to some reports, viewership of many esports contests increased after the restrictions were enforced worldwide. For example, Amazon’s video-game streaming service, Twitch, reported an increased viewership on its platform. This was particularly on esports titles such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Valorant and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The gaming platform, Steam, also witnessed the upsurge of user registrations following the restrictions. It reported a lot of online activity with millions of users gaming during peak times.
Increased demand of esports games
With the social restrictions enforced, the only available option for many was online gaming. Families therefore had to increase esports games collection for their children. Some families joined in these activities as a perfect way of connecting together. For pro-gamers, it was even more tempting as they got the chance of buying any game that came their way. This led to increased demand making developers to share games that they didn't expect would be a hit in the market.
Increased sales of gaming hardware and software
The stay-at-home orders enforced by respective jurisdictions made people to play video-games as a hobby. This resulted into increased sales of esports gaming kits by providers. For example, the NPD Group witnessed a 34% shoot in sales within America in March 2020 compared to March 2019. They also reported a 63% increase in the sale of video-game hardware in that month. By July 2020, the total sales in the US had reached USD 6.6 billion, the highest ever since 2010.
The bad side: cancellation of esports events
Though the esports sector has fared quite well during the pandemic, there are some negative impacts. This includes cancellations of major esports events such as the League of Legends Pro League. This league cancelled all live tournaments and opted to play online. As the disease spread beyond China, other nations also cancelled or delayed their various leagues. They include the Overwatch League which cancelled the home tournament in South Korea and all matches that were to be played in China.
These are some of the impacts of coronavirus disease on the esports world. That said, in such situations, people will definitely embrace the easily accessible options. One of them is esports gaming which although still relatively new, is likely to become more mainstream in the future. Irrespective of the tough competition in the online space, esports still remain a favourite among fans. The software providers are also motivated by these trends to offer the best experience to players.