MMA has quite a large viewer base, numbering in the millions actually. It was seen as a great opportunity by many game developers to take the sport and turn it into a game that everybody could enjoy when there were no major events going on in the world.
Soon enough though, these games were turned into tournaments themselves, but not on the scale that one would imagine from the most popular video games.
For those who don’t know, eSports is basically professional video games. Meaning that people learn how to play the game on a console or PC, and then compete with each other on large events for monetary rewards or otherwise.
For a long time, it was considered that the addition of MMA to eSports would drive a much larger viewer base towards the actual UFC fights, but it is barely the case.
eSports does not support MMA
Esports is very rarely associated with sports in general. It’s quite hard to explain this sentence as it becomes quite distorted with the English language, but an eSport that uses sports games like FIFA, NBA or NFL is very rarely popular.
The large majority of eSports viewers enjoy watching shooters, strategies and various other genres. The fact that traditional sports eSports exist doesn’t mean they encompass the millions of viewers of eSports in general.
In fact, Russian eSports betting websites try to describe it as an industry for fantasy games rather than something more connected to reality, which could be MMA or any other “traditional” sport.
This is due to local laws governing the betting industries, but it can also be used in a more global sense to differentiate the two sectors.
Therefore, we come to a conclusion.
People playing video games that revolve around actual sports are already fans of that sport. Because of this, there is no net gain in viewers for MMA in general.
But could it become something that can drive additional traffic? Is that even possible?
Yes, it’s possible, but not profitable.
Gaining viewers with eSports
In order for the UFC to gain a large viewer base from the eSports industry, they will need to invest quite a large sum of money.
They’ve already committed to buying real estate in Las Vegas, where they will allow eSports events, but that doesn’t directly translate into more viewers in the long run. It could translate into more awareness, but that’s about it.
In order for MMA to gain traction from eSports, there needs to be a lot more events featuring those games. And who should be the main sponsor of those events? UFC of course. Who else would manage to promote and host such events all the time?
The game promotion itself
The cool thing about eSports is that literally, everybody can become a professional by sitting on their couch and playing the game day and night.
The only thing the game needs is a ranking system which filters out the good players from the bad ones. Then it picks them up for the events and showcases them as much as possible.
Therefore, the games themselves need to be extremely popular in order for them to translate into a profitable eSports scene.
There’s no need to mention the fact that UFC will have to participate in the promotion of the games as well, alongside the studio they hire for developing it.
Overall, we come down to the conclusion that it’s simply not feasible for the UFC to invest that much time and resources into something that could disappear within a year or so.
Esports trends tend to change very often, and for a game that’s available in real life, with much more sophistication and scale, it’s sure to lose traction one way or another.
It’s simply not worth it.