The eSports Revolution
eSports are taking the world by storm, and it’s great for gamers, fans and marketers. But what are eSports and why do we need to be paying attention to the growth of this emerging market?
What are eSports?
eSports refers to competitive videogame play. There are tournaments, live streams, big name players with sponsorships, teams and crowds of fans. Everything you would expect from a “real” or “normal” sport, with major differences in not only just activity level, but the fact that multiple games are played during the tournament. For instance: you don’t see a baseball game being played at the World Cup, but you may see players on League of Legends and on Call of Duty during the same eSports tournament.
The growth of eSports
Compared to most major sports, eSports are still in their infancy; but the rate of growth is so rapid that eSports will likely be able to catch up to major league basketball, baseball and football within the next few years. A big issue that eSports faces is making sure that the audience has a full understanding of what is happening on the screen. The changes of individual games and tactics is much faster than changing of decades, sometimes centuries old rules of other sports.
But this isn’t dissuading colleges and universities from moving into the future; in fact, the University of Utah recently announced that the school will sponsor a varsity eSports program, complete with scholarships. And the University of California, Irvine, opened an “eSports arena” that includes gaming computers and webcasting services.
eSports are currently poised to become a hugely influential financial market as well, in 2016, Goldman Sachs valued them at $500 million, growing into a $1 billion industry over the next 3 years. Even eSports platforms are benefitting. Twitch, an eSports streaming community was purchased by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million, and top gamers earning over $300,000 last year.
Marketing and eSports
Twitch streams were watched by over 2 million people in 2015, and the number has continued to grow, which makes this huge audience very appealing to marketers. However, marketing in this space is different than many other markets. Gamers want to see brands that do work to “benefit the space and not just the brand”, says Nathan Lindberg of Twitch. Brands that are loyal will receive loyalty in return. The majority of eSports advertising will also need to be digitally focused, as eSports haven’t majorly broken into TV yet. Marketing that feels natural and organic will do the best. See what eSports sponsor Coca-Cola has done for some excellent examples.
Get Involved With eSports