In 2019, FIFA players based in New Zealand got the chance to take part in the inaugural FIFA eNations Cup in London. There was a rigorous selection process in this country first, which whittled down the best players. The two greatest players were then given the chance to fly to the UK, all expenses paid. To regular sports fans, this may sound crazy, but these are the early days of an industry which could one day become bigger than traditional sports. Indeed, it may not be long before eSports like competitive FIFA gaming are raking in more revenue than the sports upon which they are based.
Virtual Sports are Everywhere
FIFA is one of the longest-running sports game franchises in the world, and there have been more than thirty titles over the past three decades. Looking back at some of the early offerings like FIFA International Soccer in 1993, the graphics were extremely basic and the gameplay was clunky. However, over the years, EA Sports has continuously refined and improved this best-selling franchise. It is now at a stage where it is incredibly realistic. It also has a wide range of functions that enable players to do unique skills and tricks.
The franchise, which has rights to all the top leagues in the world has inspired other games as well, including its long-term rival Pro Evolution Soccer, which was first released in 2001. The football genre has spanned onto numerous devices and has been recreated in different ways. According to SkyCity, there are also various slot games based on football such as Golden Goal and Football Champions Cup. These give players a football theme to enjoy while spinning the reels. Mobile developers have also had some fun with the sport. For example, Score Hero! is a football game that tasks players with drawing lines to plot the direction of the ball.
eSports Players Train Just Like Athletes
The popularity of football games in various genres is immense, and there are more than 10 million people playing FIFA 20. It is easy to imagine events like last year’s eNations Cup becoming more widespread in the years ahead. This is because eSports has become a viable and lucrative industry, expected to be worth a staggering US$1.5 billion by 2023.
Professional FIFA players are beginning to gain recognition because it is a skill-based game which they can train at in order to reach a higher level. There is little chance involved, meaning that it is also a reliable market for bettors. As the graphics and gameplay advance even further, it may be difficult to tell the virtual game apart from the real one. This is why this type of play could be set to become huge.
New Zealand’s videogame industry generated more than $143 million in 2018, and those numbers are growing. In fact, 72 percent of adults in the country believe that gaming is beneficial to the economy, which is NZ could become a hotspot for the eSports industry. Fans of regular sport may even find themselves compelled to watch competitive FIFA matches as the franchise’s realism increases.