Calling all gamers worldwide: there are some amazing news in the online gaming world. McLaren has announced the next phase of its innovative eSports scheme, which has taken the industry by a storm. In this latest edition, mobile gaming enthusiasts will have one more reason to get excited: according to the latest details, a mobile racing game will be included in the program.
Is eSports Dominating the Market?
eSports is an industry that is growing fast – games like Dota 2 and League of Legends have pushed the appeal of the genre to new boundaries, drawing in players across all ages and all walks of life. Reflecting the traditional sports landscape, you can now find betting providers like Betway offering the opportunity to bet on eSports tournaments, like CS:GO events such as IEM Katowice, ESL One New York and ESL Pro League, as well as choose Dota 2 favorites to win like Evil Geniuses and Virus Pro. There is a lot of money to be made in the game, as the value of the eSports industry amounted to $1.5 billion in 2017 alone: 50% of that money came from investments, 35% from sponsors and advertising, 6% from prize pools, 5% from merch and ticketing, and a further 5% from betting and amateur tournaments. This revenue is set to rise by 26% by 2020, as audiences are projected to grow by 12% annually.
This is the market that McLaren is trying to tap into. The car manufacturer organised the World’s Fastest Gamer last year, a tournament that saw over 30,000 applicants from 78 countries claim the coveted spot of the official simulator driver of the brand – a role that ultimately went to 26-year-old Rudy van Buren, a Dutch sales manager. Meanwhile, Formula 1 superstar Fernando Alonso put together his own eSports team under the auspices of the company. Now McLaren has launched the next stage of its program, under the mysterious and charming title “The Shadow Project”. Under this new project, McLaren will allow hopeful enthusiasts to test their skills across a variety of racing games, in the search for the most talented driver to be determined at the finals in January 2019 after a set of rigorous qualifying rounds.
The New "Shadow Project"
The games that will be available to players will include PC games such as iRacing and rFactor2, Xbox One Forza Motorsport and a mobile game for a change: Real Racing 3, available both on Android and iOS. This expansion to the mobile world should come as no surprise to those familiar with the online gaming industry: mobile gaming is the fastest growing segment, set to reach over 33% in 2018 and over 40% by 2020 – and that is by counting just smartphones, not tablets. The gaming market revenue will reach over $140 billion in 2020, which means that McLaren is doing well by leading the race when it comes to automotive games. The winner of the Shadow Project will go on a spot on the brand’s new eSports team as well as a simulation driver on the F1 team like van Buren.
In order to implement the new program, McLaren has renewed its partnerships with Logitech G and Dell’s Alienware for hardware, while it has also sought to collaborate with Microsoft and EA on the software side. It has also seen HTC join its sponsors elite – which could very well signal a strong desire to devote more effort to the Virtual Reality market. Its eSports team will face off in the F1 eSports Series that will see its Pro Draft take place during the summer. The McLaren champions will go head to head with 8 other teams to crown the ultimate winner. It seems that for the car company, eSports are an excellent way to reach out to a wider and potentially younger audience, as the eSports sector seems to be working wonder in terms of marketing the McLaren brand.
Whether or not McLaren efforts will see another unlikely winner celebrated and publicity be generated as a consequence, its ground-breaking approach to eSports will undoubtedly exceed the close confines of the McLaren brand. What the company is essentially doing is preparing the ground and testing the waters or eSports racing – which could very well develop into a niche market.