Guest Column| Challenges esports industry faced in 2020 due to Covid 19

Esports Federation of India, director Lokesh Suji

Esports has never seen such immense response before 2020. Lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 outbreak facilitated esports in many visible ways. There certainly had been a sharp growth in viewers and engagement with esports online and new opportunities emerged. With sporting events across the globe being cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, esports and gaming saw a rapid rise in popularity as people looked for alternative entertainment. The increasing demand for video games, online content and live streaming contributed to the growth of industry. However there are some not so evident consequences of COVID 19 outbreak. Most significant hit to the industry is on the live events, such events collect revenue through sales opportunities and extra content of the partners such as musical performances, meet-and-greets, booths for activities and merchandise leading to loss of millions of dollars.

Fortnite, League of Legends, FIFA 20, Hearthstone, Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Rocket League and other key esports games’ tournaments have been postponed or cancelled due to concern of the COVID 19 health risks. 

The Esports market was predicted to exceed the billion-dollar revenue mark without advertising platform revenues for the first time this year. The highest-grossing esports revenue stream worldwide was calculated to be sponsorship, which could have generated $636.9 million in 2020, up from $543.5 million in 2019. However, as the COVID 19 restrictions started building up those sponsorship budgets were immediately put at risk. Many companies decreased marketing budgets to preserve capital. Hence It became a challenge to make revenue out of the Esports industry.

The distortion had been seen in individual esports athletes and teams as well. As the lockdown came into picture, team members had to move to their individual residence forcing them to rework their training routines and other operations. Such things affect their performance as not all places are equipped with stable internet connection. Other than that esports is not just a virtual activity it demands both mental and physical involvement, playing in homes doesn’t always provide a favorable environment for an efficient gameplay and such things become a challenge for gamers. The mental attitude of some players also got deferred due to the disturbing occurrences happening around them due to the pandemic. 

With all the hindrances around event hosting organisations, sponsors, advertising companies, merchandise sellers and athletes, the Esports industry are still under a cloud of unpredictable consequences of the pandemic, but it has been a combination of boosting as well as hampering occurrences with optimistic hopes for the upcoming picture.

(This article has been contributed by Esports Federation of India, director Lokesh Suji and AnimationXpress does not necessarily subscribe to these views)