Great Expectations: Gaming and eSports take football to new leagues

In this latest insight article of the Great Expectations: Football series, we enter the world of gaming and show how FIFA has ignited a new sport and a new fan base.

FIFA, the EA Sports video game series that began in 1993, has become a commercial powerhouse, selling over 150m copies. On any Sunday, the day it’s played most often, more than 200m FIFA matches take place around the world.

It has become an essential complement to the weekly match for many fans and has been an entry point for new fans, particularly in the US and Asia.

34% of American soccer fans were attracted to the game through FIFA.

Playing video games has given rise to a new form of entertainment – eSports. Here, gamers play competitively and are watched in person or online by vast audiences of spectators. eSports is enjoyed by 400m people worldwide and expected to grow 50% by 2020. Twitch, the leading hub for eSports attracts 100m active monthly viewers and 1m people sharing games live every month.

Whilst the largest eSports interest is in games outside of football, FIFA eSports is rapidly growing. An increasing number of football clubs are now fielding pro FIFA players and an eSports league on a par with real life football is just around the corner.

NFL already have an eSports league for example, that now features official involvement from all 32 NFL teams. Sponsors are getting involved too, with AirAsia competing in major eSports competitions.

Fans are getting their chance to participate as well. Leading football YouTuber Spencer FC ran a ‘Game Academy’ to select an eSports player.

FIFA continues to explore the world of eSports and the newly released FIFA 18 is expected to promote even higher participation and interest.

eSports is a way for brands to connect with younger audiences. It’s the future of how the next generation are consuming sport and entertainment. It will fill out stadiums, some believe.

eSports is already a medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games and has been considered for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Do you represent a brand looking to reach and engage the next generation of football fans? eSports provides a lucrative new platform for brands.

Contact us to discuss how you can tap into the game.

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