Super league and video games: what football should learn from video games (and vice versa)

Super league and video games: what football should learn from video games (and vice versa)

Super league and video games

This week twelve of the most powerful football teams on the planet shocked the whole world by announcing the birth of the European Super League, a private competition designed to overshadow the Champions League in order to "save the world of football" from clutches of UEFA, an organization that, according to the words of Real Madrid patron Florentino Perez, was "letting die" most of the most famous clubs in Europe.

Three Italian clubs too, namely Inter, Milan and Juventus, they were involved in the project, a project that seems to have evaporated over the course of just three days, leaving behind a long series of aftermaths. The rift between the big clubs and UEFA seems difficult to remedy, and it is now evident that the main reasons behind the initiative lay in the incalculable mass of debts that plague the coffers of these aspiring entertainment titans. At this point you are wondering: "What does all this have to do with the world of video games?".

The European Super League aimed to gather the best 20 European clubs under the same banner to generate engagement (and therefore revenue ) Without precedents. As you well know, specialized newspapers like ours often find themselves having to defend the video game medium from the attacks of some politicians, some general media, entrepreneurs unhappy with the success of the industry. And it is no coincidence that, even in the course of the discussions matured around the Superlega, the spectrum of video games has once again emerged, carried by the high-sounding names of products such as Fortnite and Call of Duty.

This time, however, the story went a little differently. During an interview with Corriere dello Sport to explain the soul of the Super League, Juventus president Andrea Agnelli made a series of rather interesting statements, already analyzed in a brilliant article by Chris Tapsell published on our English equivalent. "I'll give you some data," Agnelli began. "One third of football fans follow at least two clubs, and those clubs are often featured among the founders of the Super League. 10% follow the big players and not the clubs. Two thirds follow football for fear of being excluded from the dominant discussion. ".

" And then we have the most alarming data: 40% of young people between 15 and 24 have no interest in football. We need a competition capable of opposing what they follow on the platforms digital, transforming the virtual into real. In FIFA you can create your own competition, and that competition has to be brought back to the real world. of the young people who will become the consumers of tomorrow ".

Andrea Agnelli mentioned Fortnite and Call of Duty as the real rivals in the world of football. The Superlega, according to Agnelli, was not born with the idea of ​​ousting UEFA from the bloody throne of international football, but with the decidedly more ambitious one of opposing the entertainment giants, among which the video game market obviously stands out. And it is for this reason that the story went a little differently than usual: there was not an attack on video games dictated by ignorance or even born with the aim of belittling them, but a call into question the daughter of envy, if we want from fear of what to be honest is now a frightening market.

The declarations of the fathers of the Super League have exposed the great economic war of our generation, namely that for time free of consumers. A football championship, a streaming platform, a video game console, a game as service, a television schedule, a social network: all the players in the entertainment market are now forced against each other in an octagon in the which win means one thing and only one: swallowing up the time of the fans.

The solution identified by the presidents of the Super League was the most banal one could imagine, bordering on Occam's razor. As kids invest time and money in FIFA Ultimate Team, and are used to playing tons of virtual sticker team matches, the only way to grab their attention is to turn the game into reality. To win their hours you have to play Messi against Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic against Benzemà every week, definitively transforming sport into entertainment.

Fortnite and Call of Duty, now free, have 350 and 100 million active gamers respectively. Tapsell rejected this hypothesis by making a correct observation: the secret of the success of products like Fortnite and Call of Duty lies in the fact that they are free, and above all that it is possible to use them anywhere. You can play games on smartphones, you can take advantage of ten-year-old hardware, all without any entrance fee. Any pay-TV requires an average investment of 30 euros per month to access the football leagues, not to mention the prices of tickets and season tickets, which have skyrocketed over the years.

The cost it is certainly a factor, but the fundamental variable lies in the accessibility of the contents. Playing video games today is easy, it will soon become very easy thanks to the contribution of the cloud: any device with a screen, an internet connection and little else will suffice. Are patrons afraid that young people would prefer to watch Mbappé's best plays on YouTube and then jump straight into Fortnite's battle royal? They are right to be afraid, because that is precisely what is happening and will probably continue to happen.

And it is also one of the contributing causes behind the extraordinary surge in esports, which year after year continue to double in numbers. own numbers. The model based on the "from zero to hero" philosophy, according to which anyone can reach the top through commitment and dedication, is strongly opposed to the semi-closed vision that has decreed part of the failure of the Super League; but what really matters is that, even in the case of export, it is an immense amount of entertaining and accessible content anywhere in the world without the slightest requirement.

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Wanting to reduce the matter to a minimum, the Super League has violated the axiom "football is to all ", a rule that inaugurated an unprecedented growth phase when it was concretely applied to the world of video games. But if it is true that the football universe should learn something from the world of video games, it is even more true that our industry should meditate on the problems that have led Europe's big names to face a situation of this kind.

Indebted to the limit - due not only to wicked management, but also and above all to a sick market - as well as forced to hit one goal after another, these 12 companies found themselves on the brink of the abyss, and it is a single year of stop to the traditional system was enough to push them to seek at least questionable solutions. Here, the big companies in the world of video games are embarking on a path in some ways similar, to the point that in the contemporary market a failed release often means the restructuring, if not the closure, of entire development studios.

The Superlega, for the moment, has returned to a dormant state, experiencing a premature end that nevertheless smells like a beginning, because the war for the control of free time has just begun. But if it's wrong to rejoice or even celebrate in the face of excellent collapses, every defeat represents a lesson from which one should take an example, whether chasing trophies or chasing a statuette for the Game of the Year. The public, for its part, seems to be learning to recognize cases in which only money is chased.

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