eSports is growing faster then ever and could be the future of mainstream sports
The world of eSports is suddenly all grown up. According to ESPN (yes, even ESPN is in the mix now), the industry boasts events with viewerships that rival the Super Bowl, making it one of the fastest growing phenomena out there. With approximately 148 million eSport fans around the globe, this has become a massive spectator sport, with cash prizes in the millions. And brands have been cashing in gleefully.
The magic of eSports isn’t just in the gameplay itself, but in the personalities and culture around it. This has led to sponsorships of teams, players and competitions, as well as giveaways, which are creating massive global visibility for brands.
Additionally, the market has a much more inclusive fandom than ordinary sports. It’s predicted that the market will reach over $1.5 billion by 2020, so it might be time for your brand to start thinking about how it can be part of the action.
I recently sat down with SoaR Gaming to chat about where the industry is at, why it has exploded in popularity and how your brand can take part. This team provided incredible insights. If you’re looking to get in the game, I suggest you take notes.
The New Frontier In Entertainment
“We are in a new era,” explains Michael “Makz” Maknojia, owner of SoaR Gaming. “Once you're in the industry, you become part of a whole new universe. ESports has changed the world as we know it. No longer can people say video games will get you nowhere, because a professional eSports player could earn a salary higher than a doctor’s. It’s one of the fastest growing industries, growing at a rate almost faster than show business.”
While the internet has hurt a lot of traditional routes in media, gaming has arisen as a completely new area to capitalize on. However, in common with a lot of innovations in the tech world, some don’t understand how to target gamers.
Authenticity In A Digital World
Many advertisers worry about how to reach gamers effectively. It can be an incredibly difficult task given that these folks can be unforgiving, and even nasty, if an outsider tries to infiltrate their culture solely for monetary gain. That’s why an authentic approach is imperative. Instead of trying to sell to the gamer, learn to sell with them.
Jason “General” Wilhelm, the managing director of SoaR Gaming, says, “Many of the people involved in this industry also have a lot of passion for gaming and eSports as a whole. They want to see this scene grow and succeed because they see the potential it has.
ESports is very different from other entertainment industries, and I think it needs to be approached with a different mindset. The biggest thing that I see changing in the future is the number of big companies and people getting involved in the scene. This will only increase the value of the industry as a whole.”
Wilhelm hits the nail on the head with the word passion. These people are fully invested in this lifestyle, and if you want to reach them, you have to be passionate about gaming as well.
Take Yourself Out Of The Game
As Clayton “Nudah” Huddleston, general manager at SoaR Gaming, notes: “Today, there are so many creators out there producing content, it’s almost like having a million people to enjoy the experience with on a daily basis.
As much as the average viewer cares about what game is being played, were it not for a creator’s personality and how they portray themselves on social media, they wouldn’t feel that genuine connection with them.”
The goal when reaching out to the eSports community should be to respect who these players are and what they represent to their fans. People want to feel as though they’re a part of this intimate experience. And if your brand wants to be involved, you’d better find someone to pick up sticks with.
You should aspire to find a player or team that matches your brand’s personality. Figure out what it is they’re doing that their fans like and help push them to the next level. The less you try to insert yourself as the frontrunner in this show, the better.
Remember, this is about authenticity, and so you have to let them take the lead on what they know, with your company as a supporting actor. If you get things right, you just might find yourself riding the wave of eSports into the stratosphere.