EA SPORTS FIFA 19 has been posting some serious viewership results. Around for decades, the game is finally shaping up as a worthy esports title, and with it – viewership numbers have been going up and up.
What does this mean for regular fans? Well, for starters, the game is shaping up to be a worthy competitive video game. This means better competitions and bigger prize pools. For fans of the game and specifically for those who have always wanted to compete in Real Madrid, there is now an opportunity – simply join the digital competition!
Esports as Driver of Growth
Earlier in January, Todd Sitrin, Senior VP at EA, stated that the company’s plan for the FIFA franchise – was to join the big ‘three’ of competitive video gaming. Mr Sitrin meant Dota, League of Legends and Counter-Strike.
The game definitely has the making of a worthy esports title, with the company posting 29 million views over a three-day period back at the 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup Finals in London. Interest in video gaming has definitely helped EA shape their title as one of the hottest games out there, but there are other factors as well.
Just to put things in perspective, the FIFA 19 Global Series drove 61 million total views, it was the most sold console game in Europe 2018 and every bookmaker from Australia to Portugal offer FIFA as a top title in their eSports betting landscape. But has esports been the sole driver of growth? Not everyone agrees.
Soccer’s the Reason Why
FIFA may be a video game, but it has been inspired by soccer and there is no denying this. No small part of the success of the game lies in the fact that soccer players themselves love the game. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are both big fans of the franchise.
In fact, Ronaldo actually has the numbers of the people in EA and he calls them around the release of a fresh game to complain about some of the statistics he has been assigned – he often sees them as grossly unfair to his personal skills.
So, yes – real soccer is driving esports, which is fantastic. This is also the first example when a real sport has excited interest in a video game or vice versa. To show their commitment, EA SPORTS has also decided to work with mainstream sporting organizations and bring FIFA to an equal footing with sport. As a result, FIFA has teamed up with different mainstream soccer leagues from around the world, including the English Premier League (EPL), the LaLiga and the Bundesliga, among others.
The upshot has been imminent – with growing partnerships across the board and more interest going in the way of FIFA, naturally.
What Viewership is Good Viewership?
One of the criticisms levied against EA is that the company also considered the viewership generated from idle lobby browsing – at least this is what some Redditors have suspected. EA has never officially broken down the numbers.
Even if the former statement is true, then the game has seen a 25% increase YOY for the period of the Global Series, which if not concentrated in esports, is at least very good metric nevertheless. FIFA’s viewership will continue to increase as the game is only now exploring one of the key untapped markets – China and Southeast Asia. The game’s mobile version is a good way to seek foothold in a market where the emphasis inevitably falls on portable games.
EA has not posted specific metrics about the mobile version of the game, but one may only assume that this is the most lucrative course of action for the company. While games in the West mobile games may not be quite as exciting, there are opportunities to actually enjoy one’s self on mobile in places like Southeast Asia. Besides, EA is keeping in mind that over 50% of mobile gamers are usually female. This puts the company in a unique situation to easily reach out to new demographics, helping it establish a definitive footprint.
At the same time, many actual soccer players have decided to go ahead and pursue their dream of having an esports team. Esports is a big opportunity to market and drive awareness to a brand, whereas investing in a proper esports hardly exceeds $500,000 a year, as the main focus is player salaries as well as accommodation.
Once the first victories and titles start rolling in, most teams usually start earning back much of what they have done. With this being said, EA’s viewership is bound to continue and increase in the years to follow.