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How the pandemic shaped the esports and gaming landscape

It cannot be denied that the pandemic has ruined our plans in 2020. Some of the outdoor events that we’ve always dreamt to attend have been cancelled as the government encouraged us to remain indoors. Gone are those days when we can flood stadiums to watch the latest Super Bowl or Wrestlemania event or those times when we lined up to watch the latest movie release.

But there is one industry that remained afloat in the current crisis which is none other than the gaming industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re a free-to-play gamer or a diehard spender as the time exerted in grinding your way to the top will keep you indoors.

In fact if there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us is that going digital is now the current trend. Zoom meetings have invaded our lives but it doesn’t offer the relaxation and entertainment that gaming offers. From streaming, content creation, and even esports, gaming has shaped the way we experienced the pandemic.

 

GAMING REVENUES

When Newzoo published a report back in May 2020, they projected that gaming revenues will reach $160 billion by the end of 2020. VisualCap’s data on the other hand had a different estimate as they projected that gaming revenues will reach $165 billion.

MarketWatch would boldly make a claim that the revenues will surge to $180 billion in 2020.

The momentum keeps on rising as the 3rd quarter results have shown an upsurge in video game revenues and it could get out of proportion in the 4th quarter due to the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series.

The pandemic has been a key cog in the increasing demand in gaming revenues. When governments around the world started imposing strict protocols to keep citizens inside closed quarters, people started purchasing video games and consoles online. Animal Crossing became a hit sensation during the early months of the pandemic and it was properly suited for the situation. If the early months of the pandemic have halted work operations, this allowed players to look for ways to burn time. Setting up an island is a tedious task and accomplishing each objective felt like working in a full-time job. In addition the game is a perfect way to interact with friends and family members online.

Being stuck inside your homes could cause psychological issues such as anxiety disorders and depression, yet video games could be the answer. The virtual universe is a perfect way to cleanse your mind of any negative distractions.

That’s if you’re playing casual and friendly games like Animal Crossing. I’m not sure if this works with the toxic communities from DOTA 2 or League of Legends. But nevertheless, any game that’s worth grinding is worth spending in a time of crisis.

 

MOBILE GAMING IS MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN BEFORE

With a lot of jobs and companies collapsing due to the pandemic, comes issues where one’s earnings are severely hampered. This makes the mobile device a viable option due to its convenience. Not only could you send messages, conduct meetings, fulfill transactions, binge watch on any Netflix show, as you can spend your time playing games. It’s the most budget friendly among gaming devices as most of the prestigious titles like Among Us, Call of Duty: Mobile, and Genshin Impact are free to play.

The convenience of the mobile device in the pandemic has created opportunities for developers to gain additional revenues. Seeing the overwhelming revenue streams from mobile gaming comes the possibility for developers to venture into the mobile device. Genshin Impact has taught us that the free-to-play experience isn’t just a charitable way of gaming as developers could still earn a huge sum of money through enticing transactions.

 

THE TWITCH NUMBERS

Upon looking at Twitchtracker.com’s statistics, one will notice the meteoric rise in Twitch viewership. The average viewership from March 2020 to April 2020 inclined from 1.6 million to 2.5 million and it peaked at the start of the New Year as it reached 2.8 million. If 2019 saw 660 billion minutes spent on Twitch, 2020 experienced a massive jump to 1116 billion views.

But it wasn’t just viewership that experienced un upward trend as the amount of broadcasters increased from 3.64 million to a whopping 6.90 million. Even the partnerships doubled from 35.6K to 45.4K.

With a lot of sporting events cancelled and with the decline of the traditional media outlets such as television, Twitch is becoming a hotbed for entertainment.

What makes it more appealing is that there is no subscription required. It’s not like the NBA League Pass, the English Premier League, or any Netflix or Amazon subscription that will require viewers to pay monthly fees. You may try to use the illegal streaming sites, but they tend to offer a laggy experience. Downloading a pirated version online will definitely cause some legal issues at your end.

But Twitch isn’t the only source of free entertainment as YouTube and Facebook are becoming in demand as well. In fact, most of the popular streamers like Dr. Disrespect and Ninja have ventured into YouTube. Even TikTok is slowly becoming a gaming hub courtesy of the stories from content creators.

Given these numbers, comes an opportunity for one to establish a career as an online content creator. Be wary though as the market is getting overloaded which encourages up-and-coming online content creators to bring something new and refreshing.

 

THE ESPORTS SCENE

While the NBA is figuring out how to establish a bubble and while UEFA are trying to find a solution in setting their matches across the entire European continent, the esports scene carries on. Though Valve decided to cancel their headline events like their CSGO majors and the 10th anniversary of The International, they still managed to proceed in conducting region based tournaments. The same can be said about Riot Games’ regional Valorant and League of Legends tournaments. The difference between them and Valve is that Riot was able to push through with their global monument known as Worlds 2020. Even other games like Call of Duty and Overwatch were able to proceed with their global events.

A lot of these organizers have adapted to the current situation. If before LAN based events became prominent, the pandemic has taught them that going online is still a plausible alternative. Indeed the sights and sounds of the crowd cheering for the epic wombocombo will be missed, but the excitement remains. Esports is still the action thrilled experience and it still offers a unique twist in gameplay due to the constant meta changes done by developers.

Though esports was able to take the first step in carrying on with the competitive spirit, the efforts displayed revealed a declining output. The game’s overall winnings spiraled downward due to the absence of DOTA’s headline event which offered a massive prize pool.

However these could change in 2021 where Valve can finally step up.

 

CELEBRITIES AND POLITICIANS TURNED GAMERS

There have been a lot of notable Hollywood celebrities and athletes that are gamers. Olivia Munn will always be remembered for her role in Chuck or her stint in America’s Got Talent but she is also a proud geek, weirdo, and gamer. Karl Anthony-Towns isn’t just known to dunk on people and exchange personal blows with Joel Embiid as he has also gone live on Twitch.

However there are some that remained in the closet until the pandemic erupted.

Henry Cavill is one of them and he became a meme sensation when he started assembling his PC. Brie Larson, Elijah Wood, Maisie Williams, and even Danny Trejo have posted in their Instagram pages that they’ve been invested in playing Animal Crossing. NBA players like Ben Simmons, Devin Booker, and Mikal Bridges have decided to stream their Call of Duty matches. Kendall Jenner even posted a photo of her playing Mario Kart.

Oh and who wouldn’t forget the record breaking stream of US politician, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Even other politicians like Joe Biden used gaming as a tool in their campaigns.

There are many reasons why celebrities and politicians ventured into gaming. Some are interested to learn a new hobby, while others are looking for ways to keep themselves relevant. As for the case of politicians, they used it as an avenue to spread their message and diversify their target audience.

The signs are already here in this pandemic and as long as the situation remains, gaming will forever be engraved in everyone’s lives. There are many opportunities in different fields and its best to capitalize on them.