Tennis World Tour is currently in development by Bigben games—good news for tennis fans who have largely been under-served (no pun intended) for many years.
According to the press release, Tennis World Tour lets you experience the career of more than 30 playable tennis stars including Roger Federer, Gaël Monfils, Angelique Kerber, Garbiñe Muguruza and more.
Details of the game will be released during Gamescom 2017, but Pierre André, game designer on Tennis World Tour and former producer on Top Spin 4 said, “Technical evolutions now mean we can create the ultra-realistic simulation that we’ve been dreaming of.”
For sports fans, there is no shortage of video games for basketball, football, soccer and wrestling, but why no tennis? The most recent game was a playable Serena Williams Gatorade ad on Snapchat which, incidentally, was a big hit. Serena Williams’ seventh Wimbledon title, achieved in July 2016, was the 22nd Grand Slam title of the champion’s career.
The fact is, tennis interest in the US is growing—from 24 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2016, according to Nielsen’s 2016 World Sports Review. A new tennis game will help capture the interest of young consumers who are forgoing traditional sports in favor of esports.
You wouldn’t think that competitive video games would threaten the tennis industry, but International Sports Federations (IFs)–responsible for their sports’ reputation at an international Olympic level–is feeling the pressure.
“Young people have many different alternatives and we have to make sure that our sport remains relevant for them to play,” International Tennis Federation president, David Haggerty told Reuters in a recent interview.
In addition to merchandise and globally-televised events, online sports betting is a major industry, whether traditional or of the video game variety. According to a Statista survey, almost 50 percent of people 18 years and older in the United States have placed a bet on a sports event at least once in their life. The online gaming market is forecasted to increase to $59.79 billion in 2020 and eSports betting will have major contribution to these numbers. Casino games and sports betting make up the largest share of the market.
Introducing a Tennis World Tour esports league could be the shot in the arm ITF is looking for to attract and retain young viewers. Twenty-two percent of male millennials were found to frequently view esports—the same number that watches baseball. There’s a reason traditional sports leagues are investing in esports or creating their own leagues—not only are many athletes video game fans themselves, but staying relevant is crucial to future success.
EA Sports, for example, has found tremendous success with its FIFA competitions.
“We’re attracting not only millions of players, but millions of spectators as well,” Brent Koning, FIFA Competitive Gaming Commissioner, told AListDaily. “To make competitive FIFA mainstream, you must capture a large, casual fan base who are already familiar with the sport of soccer’s rule sets.“
Will tennis become the next big esports phenomenon? I’ll guess we’ll have to wait until Gamescom to find out.
(featured image: Angelique Kerber)