Sports games are one of the most popular forms of esports worldwide, especially in the world’s largest gaming market, China. According to data presented by Safe Betting Sites, 52% of Chinese football fans find esports football just as exciting as live football compared to an average rate of 29.5% for Europe’s ‘Big-5’.
Historically, the roots of esports can be traced back to the first video game tournaments of the ’70s. As we know it today, esports developed in earnest after the turn of the millennium, fuelled by the rapid growth and expansion of the video game industry in the ’90s. Now, the esports market is worth hundreds of billions of dollars and is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.
The sports genre is particularly strong within the esport realm, with FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer two of the most popular titles within the genre. Many fans are fans of both live sports and esports versions of football, but notably many fans think the difference is becoming more and more negligible. In China, 52% or about 1 in 2 fans think that esports football is just as exciting as real-life live football.
This number is notably higher compared to other fan bases in the world. Out of Europe’s traditional ‘Big-5’ footballing countries, France returned the highest rate of fans who think esports football is just as exciting as real-life football at 36%. German fans returned the lowest rate at just 23%. The average rate from Europe’s Big-5 was 29.2%, notably more than 20 percentage points less than China’s rate.
Football Fans And Esports Around The World
Football fans in China and the USA are the most interested in esports, while football fans from Europe’s Big-5 also showed significant interest in esports. 84% of football fans in China said they are also interested in esports while the US has the second-highest rate at 66%. Out of Europe’s Big-5, Spain had the highest rate of football fans interested in esports at 58% while the UK and Germany shared the lowest rates at 47%.
Notably, the average percentage of football fans that are interested in esports across Europe’s Big-5 is 51.6% or about every second fan. Breaking down the different levels of interest per country shows that Chinese football fans had the highest share of those who play esports at 11%.
American football fans are the biggest watchers of esports with one-third of those surveyed saying they watch esports. A significant 36% of Chinese football fans indicated that they watch and play esports, about 25 percentage points higher than the next highest rate.
Rex Pascual, esports editor at Safe Betting Sites, commented: “The rise of esports is no longer a secret especially after 2020’s pandemic increased engagement across the whole of the gaming industry. The sports genre has become particularly strong, with tournaments of such games creating an atmosphere not too dissimilar to real-life sporting events. Expect the sporting segment within esports to not waver in its popularity, particularly with the growing popularity of other sports such as racing sim games.”