Esports vs real sports: Fans choose Fifa over a 5-a-side

72% of people would choose to play a football game on a games console over participating in a physical game, new research has revealed.

In a survey of 1,000 gaming and football fans, communications provider Plusnet found that most of them choose the most recent addition to gaming’s biggest football franchise, FIFA 19, over the real deal.

When asked why they preferred the virtual version of football, reasons included:

  • Almost a third said it was because they are “better at playing video games than the real thing”
  • 31% said “on video games, I can play as my favourite players”
  • One in five 18-23 year-olds said they prefer football video games as they “don’t feel fit enough” to play physical football. The same amount said physical football is “too tiring”.

Live football was also found to be a less popular way to consume the game than on a games console.

63% said they preferred it to watching football on the TV, and 61% prefer it to watching a football match live in a stadium.

The survey also covered the rising industry of eSports, and how much respect the idea of competitive sports gaming had when compared with the sports that inspired them.

Asked if they class eSports events as “real sport”, 56% said yes.

58% of respondents also want to see eSports represented at the Olympic games

Respondents expressed respect for the skillsets of professional gamers:

  • Half said they consider professional gamers athletes
  • One in three said they “appreciate the different skills of both eSports players and professional footballers”

Respondents were also keen to see more collaboration between football video games and its physical equivalent.

61% said they would like to see their club follow in the footsteps of Manchester City and West Ham United by hiring professional eSports players.

68% said they would support a player representing their nation at the eSports version of the football World Cup, the 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup.

Andrew Selepak, a Professor in telecommunications at the University of Florida commented on the findings:

Sports video games allow us to fantasize about being our favourite players, which means we also have the skills of our favourite players and athletes. I can’t play like Messi, but on FIFA, not only can I play like him, I can be him.

Whitney Meers, founder of video game marketing agency Platformer Marketing, added:

“The barrier to entry is lower with video games. Even in the middle of the night, all you need is the console and the game to get started, not an entire team and access to a pitch.”

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