Games Awards 2020 go online, but profitability concerns may ensure return of in-person events soon

Gaming and eSports have been one of the few standout industries in what has been a very tough year for most. It has handled the health risks by opting for online formats for most events. The Games Awards 2020 follows this trend. The event will be aired online from 5 am (IST) on 11 December.

Anand Krishnaswamy December 09, 2020 14:54:11 IST
Games Awards 2020 go online, but profitability concerns may ensure return of in-person events soon

Gaming and eSports have been among the few industries that seem to have survived the ongoing pandemic. Representational image

The Games Awards is one of the biggest events within the world of eSports and gaming. Their website states, “The Game Awards recognizes and upholds creative and technical excellence in the global video game industry (sic)."

The event was founded back in 2014 by Geoff Keighley, who is a journalist, host, and producer of video game programming. Since its relatively small viewership figure of 1.9 million back in 2014, it has grown to the point that the 2019 edition had 49 million viewers.

The 2020 edition of the event will feature awards for Game of Year, Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, Best Art Direction, Best Score and Music, Best Audio Design, Best Performance, Games for Impact, Best Ongoing, Best Indie, Best Mobile Game, Best Community Support, Best AR/VR, Innovation in Accessibility, Best Action, Best Action/Adventure, Best Role Playing, Best Fighting, Best Family, Best Sim/Strategy, Best Sports/Racing, Best Multiplayer, Content Creator of the Year, Best Debut Game, Best Esports Athlete, Best Esports Coach, Best Esports Event, Best Esports Game, Best Esports Host and Best Esports Team.

Gaming and eSports have been one of the few standout industries in what has been a very tough year for most. It has handled the health risks by opting for online formats for most events. The Games Awards 2020 follows this trend. The event will be aired online from 5 am (IST) on 11 December.

This decision made by The Games Awards 2020 brings up major questions for gaming enthusiasts, when will in-person events return, and is it possible that it may be discarded due to the convenience of online events?

To make a proper attempt at answering this, there are some key factors that need to be considered first. The biggest of these is to ascertain when will it be safe once more for large gatherings to take place. This question is the most difficult to answer as it requires the pandemic to end. There have been various theories regarding this, especially since the creation of several new vaccines, most of which are under final trials before they are expected to be made available to the public soon.

The necessity to vaccinate medical professionals as well as the most vulnerable members of society along with the large number of doses required are the biggest challenges that could possibly delay the availability of the vaccine.

There have been also been claims made stating that the pandemic is already over. Former vice-president and Chief Scientist of Pfizer, Dr Michael Yaedon, is one such person. He claimed, "the pandemic is fundamentally over in the UK." He follows this with the claim that, "You do not vaccinate people who aren't at risk from the disease. You also don't set about planning to vaccinate millions of fit and healthy people with a vaccine that hasn't been extensively tested on human subjects."

Ignoring factors relating to health risks, the biggest factor in deciding whether an event is online, or in-person is the profits. For gaming and eSports related events, just like with other sports events, there are revenues to be made through sales of tickets and passes. To put this into perspective, according to a report prepared in 2019 by Statista.com the revenue from ticket sales and merchandising for eSports is expected to grow to $63.08 million by 2023.

The largest eSports event in terms of prize pool to date is Dota 2’s The International 9 (TI9) that was held in August 2019 in Shanghai. This event saw a sale of 26,804, all of which were sold within 27 seconds of being made available for purchase. A total of 9,268 tickets were sold for 20 and 21 August, with the same number being sold on 22 and 23 August. 8,268 tickets were sold for 24 and 25 August - this weekend set included the grand finals. The weekday bundles were sold for approximately $70 each, while the weekend bundle was sold for around $300 each. The sales of tickets alone generated a revenue of about $3,777,920 for the event.

While an online event would remove the costs that are incurred when hosting an in-person event, given the fact that ticket sales offer a great opportunity to make greater profits for the organisers will ensure that online events will only remain a second choice.

The most likely situation going forward is that there will be constant attempts to bring back in-person events, albeit with measures taken to reduce risks for attendees. However, for there to be in-person events of the scale as those in the past, it is necessary for the world to reach a consensus on the pandemic being brought under control. As of today, it seems that this situation is possible only after the vaccine becomes widely available.

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