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How Esports Could Potentially Replace Live Sports

April 24, 2020


The gaming world changes rapidly. From humble beginnings with games like Pong or even Pac Man, we have now entered an exciting phase in the development of video games. We have progressed to a point that esports is now a serious field that is attracting huge sponsors and enormous player bases. While the concept of esports is far from new, it has gone mainstream in the last few years. The question has been floating around recently: could esports potentially replace traditional sports? Let’s ponder this question and take a look at the factors driving this growing esports market. 

There’s actually a lot of crossover between traditional sports fans and those that follow esports. For instance, almost all serious fans of basketball play the newest video game in the NBA 2k series. Nowadays, game creators can update their games with the latest roster and rating changes to provide a real-world authenticity that's always up to date. For example, the Milwaukee Bucks are currently the +250 favorites to win the championship and this is reflected in the NBA game where they're one of the best-rated teams. Real-world data like this can fuel the esports world immensely. 

Traditional Sports are Losing Steam

Before you even consider esports as a possible replacement for traditional sports, you have to consider the state of these sports in general. Baseball, for instance, has posted receding revenues for decades now. Yet it was once America’s pastime and the most important sport in the country. Nowadays it is consistently losing viewer ratings. Game attendance is way down, and overall it seems like the glory days of baseball are long gone. A similar story can be told about many major league sports.

In sports that are still doing well, like NFL football, fans often complain that the rules change too often, and soon the game will be a shadow of its former self. Football is beloved as a strong, physical sport, but the game is constantly being stripped of this fact. The tackling rules have changed dramatically over the years, and aspects of the game like kickoff returns may even be phased out completely as they are considered dangerous.

Old Traditions are Being Replaced

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but many older traditional forms of media are being phased out. Streaming is the new version of cable, and it has taken up large portions of the market share by the younger generation. Most younger people no longer care about TV and a fast internet connection is all they need to stream esports.

The Younger Generation is Moving in a New Direction

It’s no surprise that the younger generation is more interested in playing video games than playing real-world sports. This can be said about a large percentage of people under the age of 18. The simple concepts of playing with a ball or your imagination are often lost on the younger generation, and frankly, who can blame them? With things like smartphones, Youtube, 4k video games, these things provide so much more stimulating entertainment. People are much more stimulated mentally, and I think if you compare traditional sports to esports, you can measure that the brain is engaged much more by sports in some cases.

Surprisingly, esports have taken off so well that schools are now launching esports leagues that replace traditional varsity sports. Yes, there are esports leagues in schools today that compete against other schools, even varsity letterman jackets are provided to the students. When incredibly young students between the ages of 10-14 were polled, many said that their dream career is being a video game streamer or Youtube personality. The concept that there is money to be made in video games is already deeply ingrained into the student’s minds. There is a growing market for professional gamers, and the possible career options are expanding every year.  Even large companies like State Farm are seeing the possibilities, and are jumping on sponsorship deals with these young esports athletes. 

Video Games are More Entertaining

To many people today, especially the younger demographic of course, esports are in general just far more entertaining to watch than traditional sports. In many cases, they would prefer to watch large video game tournaments, than let's say, major league football. In fact, there have recently been record-breaking prize pools for video game tournaments like the recent Fortnight tournament that saw a 16-year-old player take home a grand prize of $3 million dollars. People see that and believe it to be more achievable than becoming exceptionally good at a physical sport, and perhaps they are correct in thinking that. 

The fact is, video games are much more accessible to people than physical sports, thus they are able to reach a wider audience. Video games enable people from all backgrounds, ages, and physical limitations to compete against each other.

Virtual Reality Could Be the Next Frontier

While we have only discussed video games in their current form, if we are truly looking ahead to see the potential for esports to replace traditional sports, we have to take virtual reality into consideration. The fact is, virtual reality games will absolutely explode in the coming years, and it could change the entire video game landscape that we have known up until now. Whereas video games have always been about a stationary player with a controller in hand, virtual reality could change this mechanic indefinitely.

In theory, there would be two different types of virtual reality games, the stationary type, and the kind that combines real-world mobility with an augmented visual world. The latter is the more interesting of the two in this discussion. If you take a sport like paintball for instance and replace the paintball guns with virtual reality lasers, are you now playing a sport or a video game? The answer is both and frankly, this is what we could be looking at for all traditional sports.

These VR games have the potential to replace all physical sports with a VR version if that is what the market desires. More likely would be the possibility that there are numerous new sports that eat up traditional sports’ market share. If a player is required to run, jump, and otherwise maneuver in real-time, then in a certain sense it would be the same requirements as traditional sports, but on a new playing field and with many more dynamic rules and aspects to the game. There truly is no telling what could be waiting for us in the near future if virtual reality games take off.