REUTERS: Football Manager, the video game that has diehard football fans spending hours glued to their screens as they manage virtual teams, will be free to play for a week as more people self-isolate due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With football leagues suspended worldwide, fans have been left with nothing to watch. The game's publishers Sega and developers Sports Interactive decided to give free access to the game as people cope with being cooped up at home all day.
"If you're finding that you've got a little more time on your hands than normal just now, we might have a way for you to fill those free hours," they said in a statement on the game's website https://www.footballmanager.com/news/football-manager-2020-play-it-free-right-now, adding that the free period will end at 3:00pm (GMT) on March 25.
With the coronavirus bringing sport to a standstill, the virtual world is seizing the opportunity to fill the void, leading to a rise in online viewing figures.
More than 60,000 fans tuned in for the virtual Seville derby when Real Betis' Borja Iglesias and Sevilla's Sergio Reguilon battled it out on FIFA 20 with the game streamed on Twitch, a live-streaming gaming network.
After the Australian Grand Prix Formula One race was cancelled last week, The Race and Torque Esports assembled a field of real world drivers along with top simulator racers with a total prize pot of US$10,000 and US$4,000 for the winner.
Footballers have also looked to prove their mettle online, with Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois joining Formula One drivers Max Verstappen and Lando Norris in the virtual Australian Grand Prix that was dubbed the 'Not the Aus GP'.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)