Cyberport: How FC Barcelona became more intertwined with esports

Ahead of the Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum (DELF), which was hosted by Cyberport Hong Kong, the company wrote for Esports Insider to discuss the growing relationship between traditional sports and esports, with a particular focus on FC Barcelona.

Peter Yan, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Cyberport. Image credit: Cyberport

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The COVID-19 outbreak halted many of 2020’s anticipated events, such as the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship and the Tokyo Summer Olympics, thus bringing the world of traditional sports to a standstill.

However, the esports industry has seemed to be largely immune to the adverse effects of the pandemic due to its prompt transition into online formats and a sudden spike in interest from traditional sports organisations.

“The epidemic has changed the way we live our life, accelerated the digital transformation in business and driven the rapid development of digital entertainment, especially esports,” said Peter Yan, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Cyberport. “The emergence of mobile games, cloud gaming platforms, streaming media, etc. generated sustained growth of the sector in 2020.”

FC Barcelona, one of the biggest sports clubs in the world, is a major example of a team using esports to enhance its overall brand and strengthen the connection with its fanbase.

Last year, the Spanish football club set out with the aim of enhancing its esports content by launching a gaming division, adding that the industry is an important pillar to infiltrate into the entertainment industry. The club also saw a golden opportunity to use esports and gaming to tap into a blossoming Asian market. 

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Explaining the growth of Asia’s gaming market, Yan stated: “Newzoo research has revised their 2020 global game market spending projection from $159bln to $175bln. The Asian-Pacific region has the highest market share and accounts for half of the global shares in gaming market revenue and players.”

FC Barcelona saw the same opportunity, expanding their fanbase in Asia with its strategic move to esports industry, anticipating contribution towards building its brand in different target markets such as China.  This move generates new sources of income, whilst also allowing the club to continue focusing on the football competitive environment. 

As esports being to develop and professionalise similarities between gaming athletes and sporting competitors have started to occur, both require proper physical and mental preparation, as well as a new focus on the eating habits of athletes. 

FC Barcelona also discerns similarities in the management of its sports and esports teams,  with both divisions focusing on different areas such as team management, competitions, fan interaction, content generation on social media, and global brand reputation management.

As such the football club has created a division which has prepared its self to step out of sport-centric titles. Currently, FC Barcelona competes in three titles eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer, Rocket League, and Blizzard’s Hearthstone

Image credit: FC Barcelona

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An FC Barcelona spokesperson commented: “There is still great growth potential for esports, thanks to its particularities, which can also be translated into the development of synergies that allow both categories to continue growing. 

“Taking into account that audiences are, in a large part, different when we compare people who usually consume esports content and those who watch traditional sports, esports can help us not only to connect with these new audiences, but also to attract those esports fans to the traditional sports teams and vice versa.”

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored piece by Cyberport

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