It has been a long, dark night of the soul for the $70-plus billion U.S. sports business, with no end in sight. Indeed, the gathering of tens of thousands of people in a single venue is likely the last of our society’s social or cultural functions to receive the greenlight for reactivation.
Then there is esports (or electronic sports), competitive video gaming, which is getting a boost from the current shelter-in-place efforts to staunch the spread of the COVID-19 virus. According to Super League Gaming — a publicly traded amateur esports platform that connects players of all ages and skill levels — there has been a “sharp increase” in new users, gamer engagement and hours played across all platforms.
The sport also received a boost from the World Health Organization, which teamed up with representatives from the gaming industry to launch the #PlayApartTogether campaign to encourage people to follow social distancing recommendations by recreating at home by, among other things, playing video games online.
The Super League Gaming platform received recognition from Zacks Investment Research, which recently named the league, which trades on Nasdaq under the SLGG symbol, one the five recession-proof stocks to buy at this time. Zacks wrote on April 3 league officials are reporting an expected earnings growth rate of 9.1 percent for the current quarter.
These significant increases being experienced by SLGG include:
- The number of new registered users grew 20 percent in March, versus the typical 6 percent to 7 percent during prior months
- Minehut, Super League’s Minecraft community, saw 550,000 unique players in March, 300,000 of those between March 16-31, and is currently on pace to see over 600,000 in the month of April
- There has been more 5 million hours of gameplay on Minehut in the first quarter of 2020, compared to 15 million total gameplay hours across Super League’s digital platforms in all of 2019
- Super League’s Instagram and Tik Tok channels saw a record level of viewership in March with nearly 30 million views across both platforms
- Framerate, Super League’s social video network had the highest number of views and the highest follower growth rates within the Gaming Media category on Instagram, according to data from Tubular Labs
While some sports purists might consider competitive video play a “game” rather than a “sport,” consider that Intel, the computer chip manufacturing giant, announced it would host an esports tournament in Tokyo during the lead-up to the 2020 Olympics (which have since been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus). The Intel tournament will have players competing in Street Fighter V and Rocket League for a $250,000 prize for each game. There are competitions with bigger prize money than that, and the sport’s top players have won millions of dollars in esports competitions.
Also consider that electronic sports, is played by millions around the world, including in custom sports venues built by property developers and underwritten by real estate investors, while others are smaller esports venues that might be integrated into traditional and lifestyle malls as well as other retail spaces. Real Assets Adviser published a podcast on the topic in 2019, which can be accessed at this link: https://bit.ly/3csv6dc
It might come as a surprise to know that 21 percent of competitive video gamers are 50 years of age or older, while 40 percent are ages 18-35, and 18 percent are ages 36-49. Players less than 18 years of age comprise 21 percent of competitive gamers.
Mike Consol (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of Real Assets Adviser. Follow him on Twitter @mikeconsol to read his latest postings.