With the introduction of Covid-19’s global pandemic, and the aftermath of social distancing and lockdowns, a new type of sport has become ever increasingly more popular. Enter: The Rise of Esports.
First, let’s explore the concept of Esports. Esports is defined as “a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the esports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces(1)”. This differs from the term “video gaming” due to the tenant that players compete against other players, and not the computer or alone. The idea is that there is competition amongst real people - even though it is across a virtual platform.
Even before the pandemic, Esports was gaining popularity back in 2017, attracting millions of viewers to each tournament - boasting easily accessible game plays through various media platforms. In 2018, an estimated 360 million viewers tuned into Esports competitions(2). Leagues were formed, teams were chosen, competitions were held. But what impact did lockdown have on Esports that has rocketed the genre into spotlight?
The Hard Blow to Live Sports
When the pandemic shut down countries across the world, entertainment was one of the hardest hit industries - including sports entertainment. Restrictions on players, cancellations of games, rescheduling, and audience capacities were hard hit. Covid-19 and the restrictions it came with made holding games more difficult, resulting in postponements and frustration.
With a vastly growing audience and a growing profit margin with franchised brands in the video game industry, sports organizations (such as the NFL and NBA) found ways to capitalize on extending their brand to popular sports video games (like the NBA 2K). This helped influence the popularity of already-existing Esports leagues, with events and functions that mirror live sports. For example, the 2018 NBA Esports draft picks where 102 players were selected to represent as professionals and given the same clout reserved by court players.
In 2019, Esports reached over $1B in revenue sales, and growth was only predicted to increase. With such a large potential for opportunity and a growing demand for content, large organizations in the sports complex industry began pouring more attention into the genre.
A Global Lockdown
In March 2020, when Covid-19 brought the whole world to a screeching halt, sports leagues - domestic and international - scrambled to find ways to make up for the direct restrictions put upon society by government sanctions. A study found that in 2018, live sporting events and the subsequent near real-time broadcasts accounted for 88% of top television broadcasts(1). With live broadcasts being impossible to accomplish, many channels turned to rebroadcasting old content. The allure from live events comes from its unscripted, unprecedented nature - something old content cannot accomplish.
However, as many people experienced the shift from office to work-from-home, live sports organizations had the same approach. With popular streaming channels such as Twitch that focuses on live game play, new content was being generated every day - not just in one place, but across the world.
In one such example of a traditional sports organization making the shift to Esports was the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). NASCAR put racers in a simulator for the first eNASCAR IRacing Pro Invitational Series Race. According to a Nielsens 2020 report, it became the most-watched linear esports broadcast in history (3). Players from the US, Europe, and Asia make up the largest numbers of players in Esports - and the platform not only lends itself but is designed for physical isolation, making it the perfect social activity for pandemic conditions.
Building for Change
Even with the flexibility of gaming from anywhere - particularly in isolation - sports trends have not drastically changed from traditional to digital. Fans still want to see “the big game” in person. And the trend for Esports doesn’t end with the end of pandemic restrictions either. Esports arenas are becoming a popular trend - accommodating for hundreds, sometimes thousands. All the energy of a traditional sports game is still present, the only difference is the focus is on a digital platform(4). The Esports Stadium in Arlington, TX is the largest dedicated Esports arena in the US at 100,000 square feet .
The arena boasts three main LED displays inside with a pixel pitch of 3.9mm, as well as custom LED game tables on stage and a large screen display in the pre-function area, all supplied with DetaiLED® products and installed by the team at DetaiLED® Solutions(5). The arena has 6 seats on each side of the stage, allowing for up to 6 players per team and two teams to be on stage playing at the same time. The screen behind either team usually displays that individual player’s avatar and game play, while the center screen shows the general game play.
The arena itself holds up to 2500 spectators, which is great for a younger generation, who make up a large portion of Esports spectators and enthusiasts. Gen Z, which has been largely classified as “socially awkward” and has spent an impactful amount of time in quarantine and isolation, are widely flocking to Esports, connecting not only locally with one another, but globally. Which is why more organizations and leagues are looking to invest into building Esports arenas and developing this new sub-genre even further.
Architecture design firms are reaching out to custom LED designer/suppliers like DetaiLED® Solutions for their turnkey product lines that offer a wide range of uses and applications, including LED walls and displays to enhance user experience. DetaiLED® products are custom designed for each project, with the backing of a North-American based technical team (DetaiLED® Solutions) that handles the full LED installation project from beginning to end, as well as maintenance and repair.
To learn more about the products featured at the Esports Stadium in Arlington, TX, or to learn more about DetaiLED® Solutions visit https://www.detailedsolutions.com/esports-arena-arlington