Will a Football Video Game Ever Be as Big as Football Itself?

Will a Football Video Game Ever Be as Big as Football Itself?

Those who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s might probably recall entire afternoons playing football tournaments on the video game. You could be playing alone or with your friends. Anyway, back then, the only way to enjoy a multiplayer game was to have your opponent right next to you. Also, only two players could play at once unless you were playing Nintendo64 in its rather square graphics.

Fast-forwarding to our days, we can hardly recognise what football video games have become. Now, we have ultra-realistic games where real-life players even have facial expressions. The mechanics and physics are also more realistic than ever. Could those tournaments eventually become as significant as their real-life versions?

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The eSports industry is massive. It comes from an annual growth rate of 18.61% since 2018, and it’s expected to cross the USD 2 billion mark by 2023. Indeed, eSports evolved from kids’ and teenagers’ pastimes into a seriously professional business. We’re talking about a business involving merchandise, media rights, sponsorships, tickets, etc.

For instance, the EA FIFA Global Series 22 had several events around the world, such as the Global Series Open, as well as qualifying and knockout rounds. Until recently, EA had an agreement with FIFA to hold such events. Players can also enjoy famous leagues like the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, the Champions League, and more. So, almost every relevant football competition has a virtual version running parallel.

eSports and Online Casinos

There can be two players on each side in the competitions organised by EA Sports. These competitions became so big that they now feature in several sportsbooks, attracting more fans and competitors yearly. You’ll find entire sections dedicated to eSports tournaments in the best online casinos and sportsbooks.

There are so many options that you can even shop for the best promotions and conditions. If you also can’t miss a good promotion, beware of what is bonus bagging in online casinosand how to stay under the radar while doing so.

Also called “bonus abuse” or “bonus hunting” by online gambling platforms in general, it consists in rolling from one promotion to another, making deposits as little as possible, and withdrawing the funds as soon as wagering requirements are met. Then, the bonus hunter goes for another promotion. There’s nothing illegal or unfair in doing so, but most online gambling platforms frown upon this practice, flagging and banning “bonus hunters”.

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Earlier this year, the decades-long partnership between FIFA and EA Sports ended. After months of negotiation, the partnership going until the World Cup in Qatar was extended until the following summer to include the Women’s World Cup.

The franchise will then be renamed EA Sports FC. Still, leagues like CONMEBOL and UEFA will remain with the EA. EA Sports also still signed FIFA23, where players can enjoy the Qatar World Cup all over again and even include teams that haven’t qualified in real life.

It’s not yet clear what will happen with the space that EA Sports will leave. Konami seems optimistic about the split and is also a strong candidate for securing an exclusive deal for at least a few e-leagues. Anyway, FIFA ensures that its branded games will remain at the top of this market.


The eSports segment is undeniably on the rise, with more international events being included in the calendar yearly. These competitions are increasingly more professional, with bigger prizes and better media coverage. It’s a virtuous circle: more professional competitions attract more money and media coverage, attracting more advertisers and even bigger audiences.

According to the platform Esport Charts, FIFA competitions have all-time peak viewership of 328,008, a record from 2020. In fact, viewership numbers have been dwindling since. Even with the World Cup effect, viewership numbers of eSport events don’t come close to real-life events. Recent estimates indicate that about 5 billion people will have watched the World Cup in 2022.

The Next Moves

Nothing beats real life. Still, the only way for video games (and the eSport industry as a whole) is forward. Immersive technologies like VR headsets and 3D games are evolving fast. Soon enough, they should be integrated into eSports games and in their tournaments. More realistic video games make for even more realistic tournaments.

There are already digital versions of the biggest leagues in the world – the eChampions League has a record viewership of 42,297. EA is set to lose its monopoly over FIFA franchises. It means that the competition between top-notch studios will likely improve the available games.

Video games are also likely to gain more space in land-based casinos in the future since the popularity of slot machines is on the decline. Giants like MGM are already considering replacing entire floors of slot machines with video games. Additionally, they’ll promote eSport competitions to attract younger audiences to casino games. Still, virtual football isn’t likely to replace the thrill of the real thing anytime soon.

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