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The Effects of COVID-19 on the Worlds of Online Gaming and eSports

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Have you ever thought about what you would do if you had nothing but time on your hands? It is not something most people think about because of the busy lives they live while focusing on family and career. To everyone’s surprise, pretty much everyone in the world got a recent look at what life would be like if they indeed had nothing but time on their hands.

The reference to recent look pertains to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. As this seemingly uncontrollable virus rampages through one country after another, government leaders have been left to decide how best to protect their citizens. Many of these government leaders have chosen the path of shutting down their economies and asking their citizens to shelter away at home.

As you can imagine, the impact on people, businesses, and local economies has been devastating. From a business perspective, someone would face a significant challenge to try to locate even one industry that has not been adversely affected in one way or another by lockdowns. There are a few, some industries have also flourished. Unfortunately, the number of flourishing industries is quite small.

It is nice to report that the gaming industry has not only been able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but the industry has experienced explosive growth during this time. This growth has been of great benefit to gaming companies like Sega, Tencent, and Nintendo, as well as the fast-growing world of eSports.

Online Gamers Take to the Internet During Pandemic

Gaming Monitors

With little else to do while shuttered at home, online gaming enthusiasts have had an opportunity to work on their game-playing skills. That includes a new generation of adult gamers who have been forced to seek ways to keep themselves entertained while being prevented from going to work.

Due in large part to a massive increase in online activity over the last six months, experts now claim the gaming industry as a whole will pull in close to $160 billion in revenue for 2020. The most significant increase is coming from online gamers who are expected to pay over $114 billion for games and access, with $77 billion of that coming from the purchase of mobile games and apps.

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These numbers are incredible. The drive towards online gambling in the last six months has likely been a matter of convenience. For adults, the choice to suddenly jump online and start playing video games seems to have as much to do with surviving boredom as it does with being entertained. The point is adults are not used to being confined at home. A person can only watch so much news, read so many books, and listen to so much music before they start losing their minds. That makes gaming a great entertainment alternative for adults of all ages.

The Explosion within the Online Gambling Industry

Online Gambling

Indeed, the gaming industry is basking in the glory of its recent surge in revenue and participation. Surprisingly, the same pattern of growth is giving the adult online casino gambling industry a similar boost in both revenue and engagement.

Over the last ten years, the online gambling industry has seen year over year growth in revenue of over 10% each year. Much of this growth can be attributed to two factors. First, online gambling now has wider acceptance from more countries and cultures. The number of countries that have legalized such activities over the last five years is nothing short of startling. That includes the U.S., where the online gambling industry’s annual revenue is soon expected to exceed the income pulled in by land-based casino/sportsbook operations.

The other contributing factor is the progression of online casino gambling technology. It took a while, but mobile gambling is quickly becoming a favorite pastime for adults from all over the world. In the U.K., where online gambling has been legal for more than 20 years, over 11.0 million people are gambling over the internet regularly. Of that number, more than 55% of them are using their mobile devices to play games of cash for real cash. These numbers are expected to continue growing, especially in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Gamblers are loyal to their favorite pastime. As one brick and mortar casino after another was and remains shuttered for safety reasons, it has sent gambling enthusiasts to the internet to continue their gambling activities. For anyone interested in playing games of chance online for real cash, new mobile casino and slots information is available through online casino review websites.

It will be interesting to see how many casino gamblers throughout the world will return to brick and mortar casinos when things start opening back up. Likely, the online gambling industry will hold on to a lot of its gains because of convenience.

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eSports Gets a Boost Too

It was only a matter of time. As gamers all over the world became proficient with their favorite video games, there was a collective call for competition. Gamers were driven to find out where they stood versus some of the best gamers in the world. This drive led to eSports.

Today, eSports has become more than a “sports” league; it has become a booming industry unto itself. There are millions of gamers all over the world who are now competing in eSports leagues and tournaments for big money. How much money? Several of the top eSports teams in the world are bringing in gaming income of close to $20.0 million a team in cash prizes and endorsement deals. That is what you call serious competition.

In 2017, eSports revenue topped $696 million, with more than a third of it coming from endorsement/sponsorship deals with the major gaming companies. The revenue has expanded steadily in subsequent years. Due in large part to an explosion in interest and participation due to COVID-19, eSports revenue is now expected to bust through the $1.0 billion mark for the first time in 2020. Should that number come in at around $1.2 billion as experts expect, eSports will likely be on its way to becoming a multi-billion dollar a year industry in very short order.

There is another factor that ensures eSports will continue on its explosive growth trajectory. Highly populated countries like India are finally building their communication networks with 4G and 5G mobile technology. This has opened the gaming door for hundreds of millions of people who have longed to test their wings as online gamers. As the online gaming population increases, gaming proficiency will grow as well. That is going to eventually translate into more growth for eSports.

How far has eSports come in the last five years? Gaming fans are now able to tune in and watch their favorite eSports teams in action. That is correct. Cable viewership for eSports leagues and major tournament events in growing through the roof. None of this has been lost on advertisers who are looking for new markets to attack.

The final word on eSports. It is worth noting there has been increasing interest in eSports among online sports gamblers. With every major sports league shut down until recently, sports gamblers went looking for a sports betting outlet. They found that outlet when online bookmakers decided to make eSports a viable sports betting market. With access to statistical information and player profiles, bookmakers saw an opportunity to create a new betting market, and they took it.  This will only add to the popularity of eSports.

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What the Future Holds

We can only pray that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. It is difficult to tell where things are right now because we see a mixed bag of results. In some countries, recovery is underway. In other countries, a second and third wave seems almost certain if it is not already in progress,

For the time being, the gaming industry as a whole can use this unique opportunity to pull in new gamers from all over the world. They can also use this opportunity to introduce new concepts like eSports and test the waters on new technologies. Never will the gaming industry get the kind of access they are getting now to a “captive” audience.

For all the gamers out there, the world is changing fast. Virtual Reality (VR) technology is on the doorstep of mobile gaming. With their favorite VR goggles and game controller, mobile gamers will have increasing opportunities to play their favorite 3D games from anywhere at any time. With COVID-19 as the driving force, these new technologies are being pushed to the front of the line.

In closing, there is no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has exacted a terrible toll on the people and economies of the world. It is near impossible to find a silver lining to all the madness.

When we look back years from now, it will be interesting to see how many talented gamers got their start as professional eSports “athletes” during these trying times. For now, there are surely millions of people who have a new appreciation for online gaming, which had served as a wonderful entertainment alternative during a time when people needed something to keep them occupied.

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About Author

Mehul Boricha
Mehul Boricha is the founder of Tech Arrival & Astute Links. He is a computer and smartphone geek from Junagadh, Gujarat, India. He is a Computer Engineer by Education & an Entrepreneur by Passion. Apart from technology geek, he is an audiophile & loves to connect with people.

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