In the digital age, sports are better than they have ever been. The video gaming industry went from joining forces with popular athletics to completely redefining them. Today, you can play or watch anything in person or online, from football or hockey to eSports tournaments.
And efforts made by sports video game developers like EA to keep their fanbase interested only boost interest in the activities themselves. Both sides of the sports industry enjoy surging figures. Why? Gamers love competition, whatever the form. Let’s take a closer look at what digital technology has added to the concept of popular sports.
Live vs Virtual Sports
Stadiums and arenas are still filled with loyal supporters. The existence of video games simply means that they can take their favourite activities home with them. It could be said that the experience is made even better when top series – FIFA, Madden, NBA – have you playing alongside the world’s biggest sports stars. However, instead of inspiring gamers to replace live sports with virtual ones, the immersive gameplay tends to have the opposite effect. It redoubles fans’ enjoyment of that particular sport.
Take hockey, for example. During a survey conducted in Canada, the live sport was favoured more than the NHL video game, while both versions topped the most popular rankings. 30.4% of participants prefer live hockey to other sports and 20.1% go for the NHL video game franchise instead of competing titles. American football and European football alike also found an interesting difference between live and digital fanbases, the first generally outranking the second.
Sports Gaming in 2020
The priorities of developers have evolved over the years. Where once it was enough to have gamers running around a field with a ball, demands have now increased and so have extra fun features. Competitive titles have immersion and social capabilities as key goals, so great graphics, responsive controls, easy communication and plenty of ranking opportunities are common. And not just in mainstream athletics.
Motocross is as much a sport as basketball or tennis, and it comes with video games of its own. Monster Energy Supercross 3 is a new product to hit the market and it ticks many of the boxes mentioned above. Despite a few flaws, its design is focused on delivering a realistic motocross experience – speed, dirt and all. You also have several modes to choose from, including the Compound, Time Attack and Challenge mode, as well as a range of multiplayer opportunities.
When it comes to modern athletics, there is less and less of an excuse to exclude eSports. The focus, reflexes, strategy and endless practice required in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, for example, are beyond impressive. Professional competitive gamers are also paid almost as well as athletes. Dota 2, the currently highest-ranking name in eSports, had an international prize pool of $30 million on the table in 2019 – around £23 million. Such figures will continue to grow alongside the flourishing virtual sporting industry.
The range of ways technology creates to enjoy different sports is rapidly growing. At the same time, new forms of competitive, social activities are welcomed onto the scene. It seems that video games have helped adapt athleticism to 21st-century standards.