Esports March On: Nike Jumps In With Glitzy Ad While Forbes Ponders If Esports Will Be Our New Pastime
from the game-on dept
Esports continues to march down the path toward greater adoption. As we’ve detailed over many posts, esports had already become a cultural thing heading into 2020. But if anyone expected a regression back to IRL sports, the COVID-19 pandemic essentially cemented the cultural adoption of competitive video gaming. With even greater adoption by IRL professional sports leagues, and with many widely used social media platforms getting in the game and accelerating all of this, esports have continued to hit impressive milemarkers that showcase just how big this is all becoming.
It’s not slowing down. Signs of that acceleration can be seen first in a glitzy advertisement Nike has put out as it too jumps further into esports gaming.
The shoemaker has released its first-ever esports ad, coming out of Nike Greater China, showcasing how these esports athletes get their minds and bodies prepared for the challenge.
The ad shows gaming superstar Uzi – who was recently the first esports athlete to be signed by Nike – completely a rigorous (and highly entertaining) training camp. According to Nike, the ad is a reminder for these gamers to remain active and healthy in order to stay on top of the challenges of gaming – which can see top players putting in 16-hour days six days a week.
Nike jumping into this is no small thing. And, while this is an ad for the Chinese marketplace, it would be quite surprising given esports’ trajectory if we didn’t see this sort of thing in the West before long.
Along those lines, Forbes has also come out with an article asking if esports will soon be America’s chief pastime.
Compared to America’s most popular pro sports, football, basketball and baseball, Esports is small, but it now ranks with popular sports entertainment like wrestling. In 2019, according to esportsobserver.com, over $211M was awarded from over 4,000 Esports tournaments, an increase of 29% from 2018’s $163M prize pool.
Gaming is universal. The rules of the games are simple. It is simply the essence of competition. When produced for television, broadcasters can support the action with commentary, stating objectives for the game on-screen. Like golf, knowledge of the games might not be necessary at all as a games player base might be large enough to sustain eSports broadcasts, making non-player spectators a bonus, learning rules as they watch. Segments can support rules and strategies and highlights.
Will esports reach the vaunted levels for America’s attention that baseball, basketball, and football have achieved? It’s certainly on that trajectory. And the fact that publications like Forbes are even asking this question of a sport that has existed widely for less than two decades is telling. What esports really has to avoid is becoming the new World Series of Poker, where the fad fizzled out after a few years and is now relegated to niche status, albeit still popular.
But as the post points out, gaming is becoming universal. It’s already overtaken other forms of entertainment as the dominant force among young people. Why that wouldn’t translate into even further spectatorship of esports tournaments, now propelled by major brands and funding, is a question I cannot answer.