Luxury car brand BMW has made a concerted effort to expand its participation in sim racing, which has become red hot during the pandemic. In December, BMW teamed up with G2 Esports, Williams Esports, Team Redline, and BS+ Competition to represent BMW and drive its vehicles at sim racing events throughout 2021. Complementing the expanded sim program, BMW also launched a sim racing academy to fuel growth in the sector.
BMW first got into esports in 2017 as a sponsor of the League of Legends finals in Paris, but more recently the auto maker ramped up its commitment to esports in April 2020, partnering with top esports teams across the globe, including Cloud9, Fnatic, FunPlus Phoenix, G2 Esports, and T1. Using taglines like “United in Rivalry” and “United at Home,” BMW sought to be a part of the marketing activities surrounding these esports orgs as a way to reach Gen Z (considered to be potential future BMW consumers).
Leveraging LoL, the top esport in the world year-after-year, makes sense from a general brand awareness perspective, but what BMW is doing in the sim racing space should truly resonate among car racing aficionados. While MOBA-style games like LoL continue to enjoy the most viewership annually, in 2020 esports viewership among racing game fans saw some of the greatest gains, according to Interpret’s New Media Measure®.
From 2019 to 2020, there was a 5-percentage point gain (34% to 39%) in esports viewership among racing game fans in the US. It’s no wonder we’re seeing other car brands like Honda, Toyota, Lamborghini, McLaren, and Ferrari jump into the esports fray. Pandemic notwithstanding, sim racing is here to stay, and auto makers will continue to reach out to the esports and gaming audience for the foreseeable future.