Originally designed as a way for publishers to market their games, esports (electronic sports) tournaments and leagues have seen interest grow from other fields as well. Formula 1 is one of the latest corporations to enter the esports field. Here’s a little information about this industry that is experiencing rapid growth and spread, so much so that even online casino players are finding they can bet on esports!
Esports Global Growth And Economy
2018 was a landmark year for esports, seeing it gain traction in the mainstream and an influx of star investors such as Michael Jordan and Mark Cuban. Experts expect the growth to continue and are predicting that the global market will exceed $1.6 billion by 2021. One reason for so much growth? Non-gaming companies are getting into the field, accelerating the merging of various established industries. Esports are no longer just the domain of technology and gaming-related companies. Automotive companies, telecom, fast food restaurants, male grooming, and apparel are all brands entering or set to enter the field.
Activision Blizzard, the company behind the famously popular “Overwatch” game, set up the global Overwatch League with a city-based system. In doing so, they acted like traditional sports leagues, looking for ad sales and partnerships that brought in a lot of revenue to the game. The owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, even paid $20 million last year to own the Boston Overwatch League team! Other companies such as Riot (“League of Legends”) have since followed this business model.
It’s not hard to see why esports is such a rapidly-growing industry. It provides millennials with an opportunity to capitalize on two of their favorite pastimes: playing videos games and watching streaming videos. And with the arrival of virtual reality and such immersive technology as VR Goggles adding another dimension to gameplay, the esports industry does not look to be going away any time soon.
F1 New Balance Esports Series 2018
Watched by 4.4 million people across the world, the F1 New Balance Esports Series 2018 showed that a new generation of fans are developing interest in Formula 1. And most of these viewers are younger than the traditional F1 audience as 70% of those who watched the final were under 34. The competition was created in 2017 as a way to bring together the most talented motorsport gamers. In 2018, gamers had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to integrate a F1 team and race with the backing of prestigious motor racing names. Four online qualifying rounds involved around 66,000 players competing on F1 2017, the official game of the FIA Formula One World Championship. In the end, F1 teams chose 16 drivers from nine countries at the inaugural Pro Draft to move forward to the Pro Series Championship.
The finale of the F1 New Balance Esports Series, the Pro Series, had 26 drivers playing the F1 2018 official video game to compete for a $200,000 prize. Players raced each other while sitting in custom-built F1 Esports Racing Stations, giving them the impression that they were driving in real F1 cockpits. For the second year in a row, the Driver’s Championship winner was Brendon Leigh, a 19-year-old from Great Britain. Leigh played with the Mercedes AMG Petronas team which won the first ever Teams’ Championship thanks to Leigh’s win and his team mate Daniel Bereznay coming in second place.
Formula 1’s Interest In Gaming
Formula 1 went from being simply interested in licensing an official gaming product to viewing gaming as a way to attract a younger generation of fans – and potential racers – namely through esports. Some of the players are of the generation with lower attention spans, meaning that watching a full F1 race is tedious, but the fast-pace of the virtual world is a perfect fit. Virtual racing allows for more of the exciting events, such as crashes and overtaking.
Since Liberty Media took over ownership of the Formula 1 Group in 2017, the youth market has gone from being ignored because of their lack of funds to being targeted. Many kids are discovering sports first through gaming nowadays versus watching matches in person or on TV. Esports are therefore a way to provide a connection between millennials and sports that had been seeing a declining interest. That interest may even translate into a real-life career in racing. Lando Norris, a big name in gaming, is making his debut for McLaren this year. Could he be joined next by Enzo Bonito? Bonito played on the McLaren Shadow team at the F1 Esports Pro Series 2018. And on January 19th he was behind the wheel of a real car, competing in the 2019 Race of Champions at the Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico – where he beat two motorsport champions, 2016-17 Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi and three-time Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. The line between virtual and real-life racing is becoming less defined…