In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed society in numerous ways. Mask mandates can regularly be seen in private businesses, the use of hand sanitizer has skyrocketed, and people are spending more time than ever at home. While the latter resulted in numerous businesses shutting down permanently, this wasn’t the case for the eSports industry. According to FortuneZ, a global expert in gaming, mandated lockdowns were a massive benefit for the competitive gaming industry.
When the publication FortuneZ was founded in 2000, there was no telling how massive the eSports industry would become. Video games were mostly just a casual hobby, and graphics were nowhere near as advanced as they are in 2021. While some may have thought playing video games for a living was a pipe dream, Khramtsova knew there was potential in the gaming industry. Needless to say, she was right.
eSports refer to the massive, multi-billion dollar competitive gaming industry. Countless gaming aficionados tune in to watch professional teams face off in some of the most popular video games on the market. The most popular competitions center around well-known games like League of Legends, Fortnite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This international phenomenon has made millionaires out of regular, everyday players — a dream come true for many.
With COVID-19 causing mandated lockdowns around the world, millions of people suddenly had more time to dedicate to gaming. The wild success of Animal Crossing New Horizons in 2020 is just one example of how people used video games as an escape from an unpredictable world.
“While quarantine robbed us of many things, it opened up an opportunity for video game enthusiasts to increase their playing time,” says Maria Khramtsova, chief executive officer of FortuneZ. “Not only that, many video game companies saw an uptick in consumer spending, as gamers had newfound time to invest in games they may not have tried before.”
This increased participation in gaming has also spread awareness to the eSports industry. For those already involved in the gaming world, like FortuneZ, the popularity of eSports was well-known. Meanwhile, many outside of the industry had never been introduced to the concept. It’s only relatively recently, as fans poured into massive arenas and professional gaming teams earned millions, that the general public became more familiar with eSports.
Although the pandemic resulted in the canceling of many in-person eSporting events, FortuneZ points out that eSports can effortlessly shift over to the virtual world.
“The nature of video games and the digital prowess of gamers is conducive to virtual viewership,” said Francine Jansen, chief operating officer of FortuneZ. Ms. Jansen has over a decade experience in the industry of blockchain and crypto; equipped with a master degree in sustainability studies, and bachelor’s degree in law (valedictorian class of 2006), both from University of Cambridge. “For example, viewership on Twitch, the most popular streaming service, increased significantly in 2020 while many were stuck at home. This indicates that the appeal of eSports and streaming video games wasn’t negatively impacted during the pandemic.”
With the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines and easing of social distancing mandates, 2021 looks promising for the return of in-person eSport competitions. Fans are itching to return to the excitement and fanfare that in-person sporting events offer, and eSports is no different. And with newfound video game enthusiasts brought on by mandated quarantines around the globe, the future looks bright for the popularity of eSports.