Every so often there’s a rush to claim a stake in the hot new thing. There was the dotcom boom, blockchain is now a popular commodity and now you’ve got companies from across the motorsport spectrum rushing to be connected to the new hot thing in their neighbourhood – esports.
Esports (to be capitalised only at the start of the sentence, with no capital ‘S’ and should not be hyphenated, apparently) is the term coined for competitive gaming and whilst it’s been going on for years, suddenly everyone’s getting on the bandwagon.
For “sim racing” one of the original esports competitions was “GT Academy” – a race to reality program collaboration between Nissan and Sony that some of my colleagues were some of founding partners of. The premise was simple, qualify by playing “Gran Turismo” online then visit a national final where the finalists were selected and then put through their paces at Silverstone based camp in real racing machinery.
What a fantastic concept it was too! The events created a huge amount of great press from Nissan and Sony whilst simultaneously launching the real racing careers of Jann Mardenborough and Lucas Ordóñez (among many other fantastic drivers).
That idea was to take a gamer and put them into the motorsport world, without the expensive years of karting, lower formula etc. It absolutely worked and was a brilliant exercise in showing how many talented people in the world just needed the opportunity to show what they could do in motorsports.
Esports is about showing the very best talent, head-to-head, on the big stages with big prizes. You can argue that esports sim racing is the most pure form of racing, with the possibility of guaranteeing complete parity of equipment – meaning talent can shine through. The stage no longer needs to be “real” motorsport, the game can be one of the stars of the show. The improvement in livestreaming over the last few years means that high-quality broadcasts can be made worldwide accross the web on a budget much smaller than some production companies would like you to believe!
So why will racing esports be successful? For one, it is the only genre that corresponds to the real world. DotA, LoL, CS:GO and other big esports games have nothing that transcends into reality (apart from peripheral and PC component sales for people that want to compete). Racing can be directly compared to automotive marketing efforts, even in a virtual sense. In fact, you could make a case that it makes more sense for someone like Mercedes to spend $X million per year investing in esports (something their target market can actually compete and actively engage in) rather than $500 million per year on a Formula 1 team.
So who has joined this gold rush?
· Formula 1 launched F1 Esports using their licensed F1 game by Codemasters and are now starting season two
· Fernando Alonso joined forces with G2 Esports to form FA G2 Esports
· McLaren launched their own “World’s Fastest Gamer” program, which launched Rudy van Buren into their simulator test driver role (a project we had quite a bit of input in!)
· Jean Alesi (ex-F1 driver)launched his esports academy
· Hype Energy committed to being the title sponsor for Force India’s esports efforts
+ there are many more (with more than I can’t mention yet!)
It’s going to be invaluable to be a pioneer in racing esports. We are probably the world's most experienced companies for sim racing esports events, technical support, live broadcasting and simulator centre consultancy. Please get in touch if you want to explore how to get involved.