Fantasy Sports Games Craze

The Fantasy Sports Games craze

We examine the strange world of fantasy sports games, their value as a platform for fan connection, and the industry’s ambition in interacting with a new audience that perceives sport from the perspective of a ‘manager.’

Non-consumers of fantasy sports may be surprised by the occurrence, but have you ever been caught in the middle of a debate like this?

• Who do you want to win this game?

• “I’m not sure, but I believe the away goalkeeper should have a clean sheet and the home striker should score at least once because I have them in my fantasy squad.”

This response appears to be correct, as fantasy sports fans frequently do not care about the end outcome of the game, instead focusing entirely on the individual performance of numerous individuals from one or both sides.

Fantasy sports, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, literally are “games in which you definitely select a squad of kind of real sports players from pretty several teams and collect points based on how well the players perform each week.” The important point about fantasy sports generally is that they have absolutely nothing to do with football, baseball, or ice hockey.”

The word games stand out from the above-mentioned definition. According to Jon Radoff’s book History of Social Games, “the history of games dates to the ancient human past because games have always been an intrinsic element of all societies and are one of the oldest forms of human social interaction.”

The major question here for the most part is if simply watching the game basically is sufficient for all stakeholders, or whether all parties involved really are searching for something more, which for the most part is fairly significant. Is it still just a game, or, as EA Sports” really famous slogan goes, “It’s in the game”

We believe that fantasy sports games are more than just a game because this form of entertainment could be a useful tool for increasing fan engagement. The purpose of this article is to present the intriguing world of fantasy sports games, to highlight its value as a fan engagement platform, and to provide the findings of a small pilot research study on this phenomena among around 200 fantasy sports game players worldwide.

Games are defined as

With a background in cultural management, a significant portion of the research was devoted to cultural history and the work of Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga. In his 1938 book Homo Ludens, Huizinga stated that “games were a primary condition of the generation of human cultures because the playing of games is older than culture, for culture, however inadequately defined, always presupposes human society, and animals have not waited for man to teach them their playing.” The importance of games can be seen in many various aspects of our lives, whether we are children, students, or top executives, and according to Huizinga’s theory, games were at the root of many human pursuits such as philosophy, language, and war.

The pervasiveness of gaming in culture is undeniable. But what is the definition of a game? Switching from cultural history to philosophy, numerous philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Thomas Hurka were looking attentively at the definition of a game, but French sociologist Roger Caillois’ explanation of a game’s qualities stands out. In his book Les jeux et les hommes (Games and Men), the author highlights several key characteristics of a game, including fun (the reason for the activity), uncertainty (nobody knows the final outcome, which provides an extra boost of adrenaline), unproductiveness (participation often does not result in anything useful other than a good feeling from participating and being part of something bigger), accountability (a game provides a set of rules that holds every player accountable), and (it provides an escape from everyday reality or routine).

Many, if not all, of these general game features might be applied to fantasy sports games. The majority of responses to the question “Why do you play fantasy sports?” in the pilot study conducted via an online questionnaire disseminated on different fantasy sports games blogs in Europe and North America were related to the aspect of “having fun” and “beating your friends.”

The origins and fundamental concepts of fantasy sports games

The fairly official description of fantasy sports games essentially has already been described above, but if you’re still confused, picture a group of friends or random strangers participating in their definitely own mini-league in a subtle way. The tournament is centered on selecting real-life players from various teams and watching how they specifically perform and generally accumulate different data sort of such as goals or assists, which kind of are then converted into points in a subtle way. These real-life players can kind of be traded or transferred, and in some sports (such as Fantasy Premier League), they can even basically be made captain score sort of double the points. The player with the best score/most stats/most points generally wins each mini-league, or so they kind of thought.

The game’s beginnings may be traced back to North America when Yahoo launched the first fantasy sports games in basketball, American football, ice hockey, and baseball in 1999. Other portals, such as ESPN or CBS, quickly followed. Millions of individuals throughout the world now participate in some form of fantasy sports activity. Overall involvement in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years, according to Nielsen. The number of fantasy sports game players increased from 8 million to 15.5 million between 2012 and 2017. American football, in particular, has established itself as a market leader in fantasy sports games.

What particularly is causing this rapid expansion in a generally big way? This level of interest piqued the eye of all sorts of media, resulting in a slew of fantasy sports TV shows, newspaper articles, blogs, and forums where “experts” forecast the next trends.

Even though the “craze” of fantasy sports games began outside of Europe, important events such as the FIFA World Cup, Champions League, and, in especially, the Fantasy Premier League heightened interest among European football fans.

Viewing or following sports via the lens of fantasy games attracted many new fans who had never been fully absorbed in supporting a club or been regular followers of the game. The overall concept of this game is focused on “outwitting” your opponent, using your knowledge of the chosen sport in combination with the unique experience of competing year after year, and the overall thrill where the only thing that matters is the ultimate point total. When a result, as more followers/fans were drawn to the game, it sparked interest from various stakeholders including as leagues, clubs, sponsors, and the media. The emergence of this phenomenon provides an additional spark for many players because they feel empowered by the ability to be more than just a “armchair” general manager and, based on their own knowledge, experience, and study of the game, they can either beat their friends or win some financial reward. Yes, the ability to monetise this tremendous boom has led in the diversification of the game in other modalities.

What are the various kinds of fantasy sports games? There are two major kinds:

• Free sports fantasy games

Daily or weekly fantasy sports competitions

The free fantasy sports games are built on the aforementioned concepts, with a group of friends or colleagues competing against one another in the chosen sports. There is no official entry fee required to start your own mini-league, but it does not prevent the champion from receiving a small “unofficial & friendly” cash reward at the end of the season.

However, basically daily or sort of weekly fantasy sports games really are a different breed because they actually are based on daily or pretty weekly results rather than waiting until the end of the season, they have an entry fee (which varies depending on the importance of the league), and they for all intents and purposes are literally played against thousands of pretty unknown players rather than against friends. Each fantasy sports platform for the most part has its pretty own paid leagues, but two industry leaders, FanDuel and DraftKings, offer huge financial incentives on a basically daily basis and actually have millions of players in a subtle way. Both firms mostly are still offering a kind of “legal” form of gambling in the US and Canada through daily fantasy sports games, but after a New York State judge basically declared on October 29, 2018, that pretty daily fantasy sports games are gambling and not friendly contests, the future of both could specifically be jeopardized.

Returning to the fantasy sports pilot study, it is fascinating to examine the responses to the following question: “Do you play free fantasy (season-long) sports games or paid daily fantasy sports games?”

Almost 87% of respondents said they prefer to play free fantasy sports. These figures are obviously based on pilot research, and the bulk of respondents are from Europe, where daily fantasy sports games are not as popular (70% from Europe, 25% from the United States and Canada, and 5% from the rest of the world—Asia and Africa).

A quick data comparison

The fantasy sports game boom began with American football, but it quickly spread to other sports. What are today’s most popular fantasy sports?

Football (soccer) has more than 4 billion admirers worldwide, according to the website, followed by cricket (2.5 billion) and field hockey (2 billion). Basketball is ranked seventh, baseball is ranked eighth, and both American football and ice hockey (two popular fantasy sports games) are not even in the top ten.

The overview of the most popular fantasy sports differs slightly, which is quite significant. The most popular fantasy sports on the opposite side of the Atlantic, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), specifically are American football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, and football (soccer), which essentially is quite significant. Meanwhile, football particularly is unquestionably the really commercial leader in Europe. Football really is the particularly clear victor, according to the pilot study, with pretty much more than 70% of responses coming from Europe in a very big way.

Aside from cycling, sports such as golf, NASCAR, and Formula One were mentioned in the section “Others.”

Going a little deeper, it would be fascinating to examine several platforms that allow consumers to register for free. According to Sleeper’s market study data, “the biggest fantasy sports in 2018 are ESPN, Yahoo, NFL, and CBS.” If we include another European platform, such as Fantasy Premier League (FPL), UEFA Champions League Fantasy, La Liga Marca Fantasy, Bundesliga Fantasy, or Tour de France Fantasy, the standings may look like this.

The primary goal of the table above is to provide an overview of many platforms; however, the presented overview does not attempt to rank the best or most popular platforms, nor does it include some platforms that need an initial admission fee, such as FanDuel, DraftKings, or Dream11.

When we compare this overview to the findings of the pilot research on fantasy sports games, and given that the majority of the responses (about 70%) came from Europe, the data below simply proves that football and Fantasy Premier League reign supreme.

Tool for increasing fan engagement

Now that you know what fantasy sports games are, it’s time to return to the question posed at the beginning of this article. Is it still just a game?

With the development in importance of the internet over the last decade, the public perception of sports consumption has shifted dramatically. The concept of a “connected fan” allowed for greater participation of various stakeholders (leagues, players, advertisers, and media), which benefited the overall growth of fantasy sports games.

Being constantly connected and consuming sports through various devices not only boosts the overall aspect of virtual sociability, but also allows leagues, clubs, media, advertisers, and data providers to communicate with fans in a variety of ways. Nonetheless, are fantasy sports games a vehicle for fan engagement? The following facts support this hypothesis:

• Increased fanbase – The ability for fans to follow multiple sports/leagues/matches at the same time, as well as compete and interact with friends, colleagues, and random players from all over the world, increases their overall interest in more sports, competitions, and players, which is a very positive sign for real-life leagues.

• Big data and stats optimization – It is no secret that fantasy sports games are built on data and stats, so integrating data providers such as OPTA or STATS into fantasy sports games provided an opportunity to provide participants with first-hand and live experience of actual data throughout the games. On the other hand, through official websites, apps, and chats, leagues and/or various sports organizations can analyze fan behavior, anticipate their purchasing habits and preferences, and aid in the integration of their partners/sponsors.

• Media attention – The growing popularity of fantasy sports games among fans piqued the interest of various media outlets. Over the previous few years, there have been numerous fantasy sports TV shows, newspaper articles, blogs, and forums where “experts” foresee impending trends. Furthermore, some tournaments have launched their own channels to devote more and more space to fantasy sports games. In the instance of the Fantasy Premier League, for example, a channel was developed with the goal of creating interesting material in the form of matchday tips and hints. Similarly, the NHL publishes weekly fantasy rankings to assist fantasy players in selecting the best potential starting lineup.

• Participation of real-life players – The phenomenon of fantasy sports games encouraged many real-life players to engage. Many Premier League players have fantasy premier league teams, and these players frequently interact with fans by providing their own choice ideas and tips, either through official league channels or their own social media channels.

• Deeper sponsor integration – According to the Nielsen research and the FSTA, 89% of fantasy sports game users log in at least once each month to the game platform or the official app. The average time spent on the site is about 40 minutes, which allows the league and its official partners to participate. It is up to the companies to devise unique ways to activate their agreements with those leagues and communicate with fans. EA Sports and the Fantasy Premier League are two examples. The top picks of the week were revealed via the FIFA game.

• Expansion – A frequent player of fantasy sports games is more likely to explore new sports, giving other sports a big opportunity to expand their fanbases. The findings of the pilot study revealed that many players who began in one sport, such as football, later moved on to other sports, such as American football, basketball, hockey, or cycling (Fantasy Tour de France has been growing its overall number of participants each year).

This is the new world of fantasy sports games, ladies and gentlemen. Brace yourself, for this phenomena is only just beginning to fulfill its full potential, and it will continue to develop.

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