Digital Esports Events Should Replace Live Events More in COVID-19 Pandemic


by in General | Apr, 2nd 2020

It isn’t news to anyone that the world is swept up in the COVID-19 global pandemic currently. It is likely the single biggest topic around the world and it is talked about on every news channel, most websites, and it is even affecting esports. That said, it shouldn’t affect digital esports events.

COVID-19 Pandemic Causes More Live Events to Cancel

As time goes on in this world of sheltering in place, self-quarantining, attempting to not get infected, and non-essential versus essential jobs, there is a lot to deal with. The coronavirus pandemic is no joke and is a problem that is causing issues for every industry and person out there.

This being the case, it has even affected video games and the esports industry, despite both of those having to do with something that is inherently digital. This is resulting in crazy stuff like production for video game hardware and software being delayed and more.

Also, as the days go by, more and more live events are being canceled in the esports scene. Crazy stuff like all of the Apex Legends live events canceled for the time being and matches in specific locations are getting delayed or dismissed.

Even entire leagues, both esports and in physical sports like the NBA, are getting canceled outright or delayed during this time. There is so much happening in the world right now and it is unfortunate but understandable to see all of this affecting games and competitions as well.

Digital Esports Events Should Happen Instead of Canceling

With all of that said, though, I don’t think that the story has to end there. I don’t think that it is necessary for all of the esports live events to just be canceled outright or delayed until months and months from now. We aren’t talking about the Olympics here as these are on a smaller scale.

With so many digital esports events already existing in the world today with stuff like the Twitch Rivals and others, I don’t think there is any reason why live events can’t just be converted into online-only competitions. This would be great for everyone as it would mean that it still happens.

The only thing is that it wouldn’t be in the format that we initially thought it would be. To bring up an age-old saying, something is better than nothing at all. That is the case that I want to present in this blog post. I am going to give you why I think that digital esports events should happen at this time.

To do this, I am going to go over the pros and cons of doing so. There are some great benefits to having digital esports events instead of live events during the coronavirus pandemic, but there are negatives to this as well that should be addressed.

I am going to go over each of these important aspects of digital esports events to let you know why I think it is still worth it. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and get started on why Overwatch, Call of Duty, Fortnite, League of Legends, Apex Legends, and more should still go on.

Pros of Digital Esports Events: Protects Everyone

When it comes to the benefits of hosting digital esports events in place of just canceling the live ones, there is one that is perhaps the most obvious of them all. This is that the online-only events will protect everyone from the coronavirus that is spreading around the world.

The very reason that these events are getting canceled is to protect the players, the staff members, the fans, and anyone else who would be gathering in these locations to compete and/or watch. This is a problem as it is worth being concerned over.

However, with remote events that happen from the player’s home or their studio, this will prevent any cases from spreading as they can play in a closed, isolated environment online. In addition to protecting everyone, it will keep the events in line with any governmental guidelines or laws.

Keeps the Show Going for Everyone

About as equally obvious as the first benefit is the second one: it keeps the show going for everyone involved. When the events are canceled or delayed for months, this means that no one is getting to enjoy competing, hosting, or even watching the competitions unfold.

This is a problem in itself as it means that players are without competitions to compete in and companies are not getting the successful revenue that it was expecting from the event. Advertisers are getting to put in the advertisements or sponsorships they would have, and so on.

But by having some digital events instead, all of these things can continue in a safe environment that is law-abiding. I think that it is safe to say that this is better than nothing and would be a much more welcome alternative to not having anything at all happen for the next few months.

Could Have Cheaper Success

Speaking of revenue and success, the next point is that the digital esports events could be a cheaper success for the publishers and sponsors than having the original live events as was planned. After all, you don’t have to rent a specific venue or fly anyone out for the occasion.

You’re not having to deal with setting up some expensive hardware with special rentals that are just there for that weekend. Also, staff members aren’t having to be there onsite for the live event, so it can mean that there would be fewer workers overall needed to pull it off.

But at the same time as companies could be saving money for doing it online-only, there is still money to be made in these competitions. Advertisements can still happen online on platforms like YouTube and Twitch, and sponsorships can still exist to make money and the event worth it.

Gives Us Something to Watch and Do

This is a bit of an odd point to say but the digital events would give us something to watch and do. One of the oddest parts of the coronavirus global pandemic is the fact that people are best off staying at home, not doing anything at all.

When you are home for a very long time, there is only so much that you can do to keep yourself entertained, especially if you aren’t working remotely. There are only so many games to play, shows to browse on Netflix, people to bother on social media, and news to drive us insane with.

As such, having a special event to look forward to soon helps to give us a goal to look forward to. This potentially goes for not just us, the fans and viewers, but the staff who are hosting the event, and the players who are competing in it.

In fact, it even makes sure that people have jobs to do and competitions to compete in rather than nothing at all. Players will have reason to practice more as there is a goal to work towards and so on. It will give everyone involved something to watch and do in these crazy and troubling times.

With more and more events being canceled or delayed like the Olympics and cases growing by the day, it can be disheartening, depressing, and anxiety-inducing. Having competitions to look forward to can provide a brief bit of respite in this unfortunate situation.

Cons of Digital Esports Events: Hard to Control

With all of that said, though, there are some negatives to this whole situation that players and companies should keep in mind. Not everything about digital competitions is all well and dandy, hence, why not every company is opting for them and is choosing to cancel or delay instead.

One particular problem with the online-only events, and by far the most concerning, is the lack of control involved with them. Given that everyone would be competing remotely from their home or a studio, publishers and event organizers would have less say in what happens there.

These are uncontrolled environments where just about anything can happen. Players could attempt to cheat (though I certainly hope this wouldn’t happen), rules could be disregarded, and general issues could arise from the fact that it isn’t the ideal space that a company would want an event in.

These are issues as the IP holder and event organizers certainly deserve the right to control the events as they see fit. Then there is the problem of the fact that people aren’t on hand to handle situations like rule-breaking, ties, and the like. This could lead to delays in verdicts, which can be frustrating.

Streaming Errors Could Be More Rampant

Then there is the problem of not just the players and matches going the way that they are supposed to, but the errors and bugs that could turn up during the online events. Since nothing is directly controlled, it is harder to deal with stuff like internet connections, lag, and general performance issues.

You have players who are potentially around the country and world, trying to connect and compete with one another. These are problems that players deal with every day with lag causing a missed shot and the like, with potentially wildly different pings involved.

Then, even if the performance of the games turn out well and connections are fine enough for the competition, there is the issue of the streaming itself. It could have its issues pop up in terms of lag, voice or sound not syncing up correctly, and disconnects. These are problems worth keeping in mind.

Lacks the Production Value and Locations

Lastly, there is the issue of production value and the locations of the players themselves. There is a reason that companies and organizers wanted to have a live event. After all, there is no comparison to seeing that huge stage, beautiful lights, and the players coming out to fight as one.

The spectacle of it all is the reason that esports exist and physical sports, too. There is just no comparison to the stadium experience, both live in person and event at home watching it online. As such, the digital events would lack that sort of flair and production value that comes from a live one.

This is unfortunate and then there are the league-specific issues like home games and the like. For instance, the Call of Duty League is all about franchised, city-based teams. When Atlanta FaZe hosts seven other teams in the league for a weekend, it means something as they all converge there.

So, what does this mean for online events? This requires a whole change of plans for league tournaments like this as it fundamentally changes how those home games will work since they can’t happen at all.

Verdict: I Still Think Digital Esports Events Are Better for Now

But even with all of the issues involved, I still think that it is worth hosting the online events in place of delaying or outright canceling the live ones that were supposed to happen originally. Most of these problems can be worked through, avoided, or simply can’t be helped.

As such, I think it is better to just go through with the online-only, remote events rather than have nothing at all. Sure, problems will happen as that is inevitable, but those same problems (or different ones) could even happen with a live event, too.

And most importantly, in this day, we need every happy moment that we can get. The joy of watching an underdog team rise to the top, seeing your favorite team or player in action, and cheering for someone who has worked their whole life towards this is just incomparable.

These are moments that I believe we are in desperate need of more than ever right now and it would be unfortunate to not see them happen. That’s why I think that esports shouldn’t give up entirely during this pandemic, but strive to adapt to the situation and help everyone in the process.

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