Are we hitting the pause button?
The pandemic that is COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus has put the whole world on hold as quarantines and lockdowns take place in nearly every corner of the globe. With the quarantine in place only essential businesses remain open, mostly focused on the manufacturing and retailing of goods and supplies together with banks, hospitals, pharmacies and such in an effort to limit the movement of people in hopes to contain the pandemic. As it is obviously tagged as non-essential, the gaming industry would be one of those to be put on momentary hold, or so it would seem, as some major releases get pushed back and events such as E3 getting are either postponed or canceled. However, not all of the video game industry is taking a momentary pause as a part of it has found ways to continue to push through and operate and that is Esports. So, how are we coping?
Tools to survive
As stadium events are still a no-no, Esports has relied on one of its initial foundations to continue their programming and that is the online audience. Despite working presumably with just skeletal crews, online Esports broadcasts of some tournaments have continued to push through with adjustments such as having casters and commentators cast games from home being put in place, measures that are done by SEAEsport’s Meta CS:GO S.E.A.L. tournament and as well as the Lockdown Games tournament by the Mineski Events Team. In addition to adjustments to the broadcast, tournament organizers and Esports production houses have also utilized online play to continue and run tournaments, meaning that all players and teams are playing via online lobby either from home or from their own boot camps. Major events such as ESL One Lost Angeles and ESL One Birmingham are set to go with this direction, and as well as the Overwatch League which, after postponing some games, is getting back on track with their programming schedule.
From Sports to Esports
One welcome and very interesting development that has arrived to Esports in this time of quarantine would be the switch from Sports to Esports by some of the world’s biggest sports brands. One brand such as NASCAR is making a temporary switch towards racing simulation titles, with actual NASCAR drivers participating while the United Soccer League is also making the same move for, well, soccer. While there has been some backlash on showing Esports programming on cable TV, both brands seem to be using familiarity as their main tool to make this venture work as real athletes will be the ones to play the games. And the venture seems to work too as a Nielsen report cites that NASCAR’s iRacing event garnered more than 900,000 TV viewers on US soil during its broadcast, making it the most-watched Esports event on TV in the United States.
Here to help
With the combat against COVID-19 still ongoing, Esports will not stand idly in the corner and are pitching in to help through various Charity Events and Tournaments. Now becoming a more common thing to do each time a crisis strikes, Esports production houses and organizations are aiming to utilize the power of their fanbases and as well as the fanbases of their participating teams in order to gather donations for various foundations and as well as for the frontline people, nurses, doctors, medical workers, and the like. Together with Esports organizations, various Esports talents and professionals have also pitched in to help, donating tens of thousands of dollars to aid the fight against COVID-19.
How to help: Support the fight, against COVID-19, visit bit.ly/DefendTheFrontline to find out how to donate and help hospitals and medical institutions near you.