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The online arena of gaming & eSports

Online gaming and eSports have greatly altered the digital landscape with 2.7 billiion gamers worldwide and revenue from eSports sponsorship tipped to reach almost $600 million USD globally by 2023. With the metaverse on our doorstep and gaming experiencing widespread adoption, brands are grappling with how to leverage the opportunity that gamin and esports affords.

A closer look at eSports

Whilst gaming isn’t new and conceptually we understand what gamers do, the eSports space is one that isn’t familiar to everyone.

Electronic sports, or eSports are video games that are played in a highly organised competitive environment. These games can range from popular, team-oriented multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs), to single player first person shooters, survival battles, and virtual versions of physical sports.

Some of the biggest titles in this space include League of Legends (180 million monthly players), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (24 million monthly players) and Fortnite (80 million monthly players).

The profile of those that game and eSport fans

With 40% of millennials now gaming and more than 2.7 billion gamers worldwide, marketers are starting to pay more attention to opportunities eSports and gaming presents.

Gamers are a diverse and captive audience, with an almost even split of male and female gamers, who on average spend 6.5 hours gaming per week. Gaming isn’t only children either, with the average age of a gamer being 31.

Globally, Asia is the largest market for video gaming worldwide with 1.48 billion gamers, and Europe comes in second with a gaming audience of 715 million. Locally, 17 million Australians are gamers – and 92% of households have a gaming device like a Nintendo Switch or a PlayStation.

When it comes to eSports, there are an estimated 234 million Esports enthusiasts worldwide, with China and the United States alone accounting for over half of global eSports revenue. There is also a major difference between gamers and eSports audiences, with female fans only making up about 22% of total global eSports viewers.

We also can’t forget about how involved children are in gaming, with games like Roblox boasting 190 million average monthly player who spend an average of 2.6 hours playing per day. Around 74% of parents also think that video games can be educational for kids, and 74% of parents also play games with their children on a weekly basis (up from 55% in 2020).

So how can brands effectively leverage gaming to connect and engage relevant audiences?

According to Matt Schmidt, CEO of Alpha Esports, the greatest gaming opportunity for advertisers lies in eSports – with gaming now the new social media, and eSports the new AFL. In fact, 74% of U.S. youth currently consider eSports to be a real sport. So this trend is certainly not going away. So what are the options afforded to brands in eSports and gaming more broadly;

At a basic level there are three main ways for brands to enter the gaming arena:

  1. Sponsorships: Brands can sponsor eSports events, teams, or individual players through online eSport events, but increasingly brands will have the option to sponsor eSports in physical locations as the US rolls out new eSports arenas to allow consumers to get closer to the action.

  2. In-game advertisements: Gamers have shown a distaste for ads that interrupt their experience, so brands are utilising methods like playable ads, games by email, branded skins, and social influencer endorsements, all of which users are engaging with.

  3. Partnership with video game developers: Brands can work with developers to create their own in-game content, such as developing competitions, places to explore and unique gaming experiences.

How brands are actively playing in the space

Brands are still relatively new to activating the gaming and eSports space effectively but there are a number of brands that have moved quickly to take advantage of the potential opportunities that gaming and eSports affords.

  1. Point Island: Coca-Cola custom-built Point Island to launch their limited-edition flavour Zero Sugar Byte, a “beverage born in the metaverse”, as a way to tap into Fortnite’s 80 million monthly active users. The island is a neon-coloured virtual world full of references to the brand, including collaborative puzzles and mini-games inside giant glass bottles and Coke cans. A number of other major brands including Marvel, Balenciaga and the NFL been engaged with Fortnite since 2018, and Coke’s involvement could convince even more to explore advertising within the game.

  2. Dress to impress: Fashion powerhouse Louis Vuitton has brought its brand into gaming in multiple ways. The company designed the League of Legends World Championship trophy and introduced skins in gaming, which could be purchased by players for their in-game avatars. They also created a real-world clothing line to compliment the skins that sold out within an hour of launching. This is a great example of not only leveraging the gaming environment but extending the idea to the physical world to drive revenue and sales of real-world items.

  3. Esports billboards: To raise awareness for their newest phone, Samsung placed ads across several video games that were seen on billboards throughout online racetracks and soccer fields, which mimicked the real-world billboards seen at sporting events. Vodafone have also placed ad inside popular racing game Trackmania, highlighting their latest offers on billboards as players passed markers on the racetrack.

If you’re interested in playing within the online gaming and eSports arenas, get in touch with us to chat about how we can help you build a robust and effective digital strategy.

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