When you are running a business, it is vital to keep expanding and attracting more and more clients – otherwise, you might fall victim to the well-known “grow or die” rule. Yet the ways in which businesses reach out to prospective consumers have fundamentally changed over the past couple of decades with the advent of new technological developments, most notably the increasing reach of the web. And now it seems that the rules are about to change once more, as gaming becomes more and more popular among audiences of all demographics. If the idea of launching (or sponsoring) your own eSports team hasn’t crossed your mind yet, now is the time.
eSports: A Rapidly Rising Market
eSports has transformed into a true catalyst within the gaming industry, driving revenue and growth. Generally defined as organized competitive gaming between professional players or teams with a specific prize (which for major global tournaments translates to an impressive lot of money), eSports have taken popular culture by storm. Echoing the immense popularity of following other sports like basketball or football, competitive gaming tournaments have risen in viewership, attendance, and prestige over the last few years. This development presents a unique opportunity for businesses to harness this emerging market that offers privileged access to the millennial audience. In 2018, video gaming is no longer considered a niche market – an increasing number of millennials play games ranging from Candy Crush to MOBAs like League of Legends, which makes them gamers.
A lot of companies are looking to profit from the direct access that gaming provides to their key demographic. According to some estimates, there were 2.6 billion gamers worldwide in 2017 – a huge rise compared to just 100 million in 1995. Contrary to prevailing prejudice that gaming is a predominantly male pastime, 46% of those 2.6 billion are women, while in the US 66% of the female online population play games. Whether they play casually or on a regular basis, many fans follow professional gamers who post their deeds and gameplay on their YouTube channels or their accounts on gaming platform Twitch. Just to demonstrate the sheer size of eSports audiences, professional gamer and streamer “Ninja” has roughly 10.8 million followers on his Twitch account and 17.4 subscribers on his YouTube channel, while on August 30, 2018, he saw almost 300,000 total video views for his Twitch streams while he amassed over 1.23 million views on his YouTube videos.
Major Companies Are Involved with eSports
The numbers are nothing sort of impressive and they explain why major companies are keen on getting involved with eSports. Energy and soft drinks have tapped into a unique opportunity to increase their appeal, not least by clever product placements and promotions. Red Bull has sponsored Dota 2 tournaments as well as pro gamer teams like Tempo Storm, while Mountain Dew has paved its own path by supporting legends like Team Dignitas and launching its own Mountain Dew League that helps amateur teams train to rise to a pro level. Coca-Cola, which has long sponsored League of Legends championships, has recently announced the launch of its own eCopa Coca-Cola EA SPORTS FIFA 18 tournament. Several companies across other industries have also embraced eSports by sponsoring professional gamers: Audi is behind Counter Strike: Global Offensive title contender Team Astralis, T-Mobile supports organizations of pro teams like Cloud9, while aeronautics leader Airbus announced its support of Out of the Blue pro team last year.
— Bruce Grannec (@BruceGrannec) 26 September 2018
A comprehensive eSports strategy allows brands to reach out to a wider audience through major tournaments as well as pro accounts of the gamers they support, including their Twitch streams. Coca-Cola has stated that its dedicated eSports account on Twitter has contributed to its overall appeal, engaging more than 350,000 followers daily and having added an extra 100,000 within a year. With major betting providers like Betway breaking into the eSports market to offer betting markets on big eSports tournaments like Dota 2 or Call of Duty just like they would with regular sports, it seems that the market is constantly evolving to offer more opportunities for exposure. As Forbes reports based on a Newzoo study, total industry revenue is set to explode beyond 900 million in 2018, with sponsorships and advertising being the major driving forces behind those numbers.
Allocating funds to support your own eSports team may seem unconventional at first – but with the market exhibiting rapid growth, it might just be one of the most financially rewarding and sensible things to do to increase brand awareness.