It’s been said that mobile gaming requires skills similar to driving a race car, and the next top racing driver could be found playing a game on their mobile phone rather than Formula 1 (F1). Which is not surprising, with the fast thinking that driving simulators like the Real Racing series require. Mobile phone racing requires split-second timing and concentration, which among other skills are aspects that are essential to being a great racing driver. As such, there have been quite a few drivers who have proved that having skills on a mobile simulator can translate well onto an actual racetrack.
20-year-old McLaren Formula 1 driver, Lando Norris has said that gaming and esports have played a significant role in his journey into F1. One of the brightest and gifted stars in British motorsport, Norris noted how racing games have honed his skills in the cockpit. Esports and mobile racing games are also contributing to other drivers reaching the highest levels in racing. Leading esports personality and founder of the World’s Fastest Gamer esports competition, Darren Cox says that the hand-to-eye coordination, motor skills and problem-solving abilities required for mobile racing games are transferrable to the track.
Cox also remarked that thanks to the growth of mobile esports, more competitions are now opening up to mobile gamers, whose base skills are a gateway to the real world.
Engadget reported last year how McLaren’s esports program was expanded to include mobile games like Real Racing 3. The reasoning is that it’s not about whether the games are realistic enough, but the intellect and cognitive skills involved in playing them. It’s for these same reasons that esports has grown globally. With millions of competitors and millions in sponsorships and prize money, it is one of the biggest and most rapidly growing industries around.
Hugely popular mobile games like PUBG have a whopping 50 million daily active players. The annual PUBG Mobile Club Open (PMCO) has a prize pool of $2.5 million, with over 30,000 teams from around the world competing to reach the final 16. It’s evidence of the global reach of esports and its massive popularity. But if you want to know how big the esports industry is today, HP highlights how the Overwatch World Cup involved 24 nations in 2018 with a $5 million prize pool. With this massive global appeal, it’s no wonder that racing giants like McLaren are investing in mobile esports to help them find the next generation of drivers, especially with the proliferation and ease of use that come with mobile devices.
This is mainly because unlike other mediums, mobile gaming allows users an almost unlimited amount of practice time as games can be played practically anywhere. And this is the key to the success of many professional esports drivers: the sheer number of hours they put into practice. It’s also what’s going to make this generation of drivers the best yet because simply put, they have unprecedented access to the tools that allow them to improve with each day of practice.