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vSports vs. eSports



FIFA 16 sells 74% of its units outside North America. It sets the bar for others to dream of.

THE NBA 2K franchise is slowly growing its international sales, from 11% in 2013 to 17% today. It’s the 8th most popular video game in China.

UFC is also going global. While its console sales don’t yet challenge the major sports, 40% of the market is outside North America. The smartphone download regularly lives in the top 15 in Brazil and Russia, hitting #1 on big days; in India it’s hit #2. Even in France, where the sport is still illegal, the game’s ranking is on par with its US ranking.

Tennis was once a big player, selling over 2 million copies on console. It has moved to smartphones and lost some sizzle, but is very global—Top Spin sold 65% outside North America. Still, during the weeks of Wimbledon, Ultimate Tennis lives at #1 in India.

MLB The Show at the turn of the millennium was selling 45% of its console units outside North America on Playstation. Today it’s holding at 27%, as Pro Yakyuu Spirits is the big title in Japan.

Madden, the undisputed leader in North America (4.6M units sold), sells only 11% outside the US.

EA NHL 2009 used to have the Russian Super League teams included. The KHL tried to take advantage of the NHL lockout in 2011 with its own video game. Without a unified hockey game, today only 20% of NHL 16 sales are outside North America. Earlier versions, like NHL 2002, sold over half their copies outside North America.

Who’s winning in India? Not cricket, where the market is divided. The best console game has only some licenses, while the licensed game has inferior game play. Console sales for cricket are actually going down.


Cricket in India is all on the phone. Real Cricket 16 and other titles are often in the top 10 in downloads. But 4 of the top 7 phone games in gross revenue are all soccer.

Volleyball was once king; in 1997, it sold almost 2 million copies—just in Japan. But this hugely popular sport has lacked a stellar game for a decade, and even smartphone versions rarely break the top 50.

Handball is breaking out as a big sport all over Europe, and Eko Software’s Handball 16 has modest console sales. Will the sport take off? Not yet, without good games for the smartphone to attract gamers’ interest.

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