FIFA Video Game Is Attracting Fans to MLS More Than Real Soccer

FIFA Video Game Is Attracting Fans to MLS More Than Real Soccer

    Ten years ago, Major League Soccer quantified fandom by following how much an individual was attending games and buying team merchandise. In 2019, MLS is putting just as much weight into how often a fan is playing the FIFA video game series using MLS teams.

    eMLS, the league’s competitive FIFA gaming series, is currently in its second season. Speaking at Horizon Summit at Levi’s Stadium, James Ruth, Sr. Director of Properties at MLS, explained that more fans cite playing FIFA as a reason for why they follow the MLS than those who actually play the real game.

    “Sixty-five percent of avid MLS fans highlight FIFA as a driver of their interest in soccer,” Ruth said on Thursday. “Gaming is actually more important to us than people playing soccer itself.”

    MLS has the youngest fan base of the major professional sports in North America. That correlates to MLS fans being twice as likely to be gamers than average North American sports fans according to Ruth. Gaming intertwines with the MLS fan base far more than any other sport, which has encouraged brands such as PlayStation, Wells Fargo, and Kellogg’s to sponsor the eMLS.

    Ruth also cited an emerging YouTube community where fans share videos of themselves opening their FIFA Ultimate Team packs to demonstrate the power of gaming on fan engagement. For fans streaming this year’s eMLS Cup, the average unique visitor spent 27 minutes watching the competition, which is more than double the 12 minutes visitors spent streaming the 2018 version.

    Of the 24 current MLS teams, 22 have a team in the eMLS. The esports tournament is a qualifier for the FIFA eWorld Cup, a global tournament held by EA Sports. As fans are paying more attention to the eMLS Cup, eMLS players are also making a bigger impact on the global gaming stage.

    “Two years ago, FIFA esports in the U.S. had maybe one or two players that could compete on the global scale. We now have seven players that are ranked in the top 100,” Ruth said.

    This content is part of our coverage of the . SportTechie organizes regular events that bring together innovators, investors, and key decision makers from across the world of sports technology. Find out more about future events .


        There are no comments yet

      Leave A Reply