In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many spring sports and sports events in general, have been canceled or postponed. This lack of sports has brought Esports to the headlines of some mainstream media outlets as tournaments continue online.
Despite the traction Esports is beginning to garner, the industry is not immune to the pandemic’s effects. Moving exclusively to an online format creates challenges that the tournament leagues have not had to deal with before.
Tournaments no longer having a live audience, brings less hype and make tournaments less accessible to an audience not familiar to the games being played. If an exciting moment happens in a match, the crowd is an indicator of those who have not seen a game played before and that something significant just happened. Without the crowd, new viewers have less to go off of while watching.
“It’s not as hype, and not as epic if there’s nobody there. And that’s just a fact,” said Ryan Gutierrez, also known as Gootecks, co-founder of CrossCounterTV.
Gutierrez also noted that the lack of audience makes Esports events less shareable. Not having a crowd makes the events less of a spectacle, making a newcomer’s first time watching Esports less eventful than it could have been.
Moving to an online format also changes the way advertising is handled. Some in ways that a lot of companies are not prepared for. Many companies lack the experience in tracking the results of advertising campaigns proficiently, when in a digital setting.
“I mean it’s so easy to track everything online when it comes to advertising on the internet. The problem is that … so many people are just so uneducated on the basics of advertising on the internet,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez believes that Esports events could see both a decrease and an increase in advertisement deals. Companies that were already tracking results online have the incentive to invest more, as the number of tournaments moving to an online setting increases. Companies that are not experienced in tracking results may find it difficult to adjust to the new setting.
Esports, despite being in a position that the industry could take advantage of, but is in a situation that may make adjusting difficult as it is affected by COVID-19.