The Hustle

This game maker is using reality shows to shake up e-sports

Video games aren’t just for hardcore players anymore.


August 28, 2020

For years, e-sports has been a bro’s world.

But the gaming goliath Electronic Arts is hoping to pull in a wider audience by introducing reality TV-style content — a genre with a viewership that generally skews younger and more female.

EA scores a reality hit with The Sims Spark’d

Hosted last December by an American Idol alum, the show featured YouTubers trying to build the “best” world within the uber-popular Sims game, which has sold 200m copies.

4m+ viewers tuned into the 4-episode series, hitting record numbers in the 18-34 age bracket and pulling in a higher percentage of female viewers than other content on TBS’ Eleague show.

There’s more in the pipeline: Derwin James vs. The World, a Madden NFL 21 tournament pitting James (a former football star) against Hollywood actors, musicians, and other famous athletes.

Entertainment programming is table stakes now 

In recent years, Fortnite has taken more and more oxygen out of the social gaming space; to wit, Travis Scott’s Fortnite virtual performance drew 12m+ viewers.

The Sims Spark’d was a bit of a “Hail Mary pass for EA,” Fast Company says.

But after scoring with the unscripted reality show formula, EA plans to increase its broadcast of nontraditional esports from 10% to 50% of its offering.

In other words, “show” them the money.

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