Sports & Gaming: Blurring the Boundary

Now more than ever, consumers are investing time in watching sports and playing video games. A trend that marketers have become acutely aware of as there are highly valuable opportunities where these two passion centres coincide. What does this crossover mean for the future of entertainment?

Sports and Games are inextricably linked. Sports are after all games, and games are now fully fledged sports. Today, spectators flock to watch gamers compete against each other in eSports live events just as they would at a football stadium or basketball court.

Games about sport such as FIFA, Madden NFL and Pro Evolution Soccer are among the biggest selling titles globally, with each franchise selling over 100 million copies throughout their history.

Sports and games share three basic principles – Contest, Competition and Achievements.

Contest – the object of sports and games is to win some sort of contest: beat other players, other teams or your own previous performances.

Competition – this is the basic tenet of sports and game formats – whether playing as an individual or in a team. Compete either for the highest or lowest score, fastest lap, first past the post, last to survive, highest position on a leaderboard, win bonus items or score record points. There are other players battling you for that prize.

Without a competitive element sports and games would be meandering and aimless exercises. Many of the most popular gaming titles mimic real world competitive sports structures: Battle Royale, racing, fighting, team contests, games with the objective to beat other players or teams or yourself to achieve a new personal best.

Achievements – at the apex of games and sports are achievements: score a goal, putt a birdie, hit a six, take the chequered flag, feature on a leaderboard, unlock a power-up or a new level, release rewards, collect more coins, hold a trophy aloft. Win. And win again, hopefully.

Or lose. The overriding emotion that drives us all to attain these achievements and win the competition is to meet the challenge that is right in front if you and try not to get beaten. The desire not to lose is the buzz that drives us on in sport and in games. Trying to stay in front while opponent is on your trail, to come from behind and aggressively close the gap when they were way ahead or complete a treble somersault perfectly.

It was no surprise then that the gambling sector drilled deeply into the psychological drivers in gaming to successfully attract a new, younger and hugely lucrative demographic with mobile sports gambling products. Learning from the secret sauce of games: mobile sports betting apps were transformed with brilliant UI, personalisation, rewards, bonuses, notifications and integrated live streams of sporting events – sealing the gap between the sports and games.

Then, imagine this: a game that is directly linked to a major world sports event and its content, possessing all the key elements of the actual sport. It’s a live tournament, there’s intense competition, and there are amazing prizes to be won… 

Watch this space.

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