written by: Chan Hiu Yan, Milk

The success of Electronic Sports (E-sports) is attributed to the repositioning of leisure online gaming to competitive and professional matches.

Change of nature
Word-of-mouth and social bond can be driven by massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) as it helps build brand and gather loyal users. This can be clearly seen from the drop of single-player game users (e.g. Angry Bird) to less than 5 million while League of Legends (MMOGs) users increased to 100 million [1]. MMOG provides a platform for the gaming community to interact. The boundary of gaming and community is blurred. Gamers are activated in both reality and the virtual world by friends’ persuasion, and the social networking community of gamers.

Effect on the E-sport landscape

E-sports cannot drive instant profit to game publisher, but it can engage their current fans and reach new ones at the same time. This investment poses a positive impact on the future revenue potential in advertising and sponsorship.

E-sports connect online and offline experience through competition: bring the unsound hero under the limelight. Not only can eminent players be glorified and admired, they can also receive monetary reward from the prize of winning competitions or sponsorship.

Gamers who live-stream themselves of playing the games can also earn a living. E-sports as a professional competition required strategies and trainings. People share their techniques on the Internet and some with streaming personalities become Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs).

“Tat Gor” and “PewDiePie” are the cases in point. They got 100k and 57m subscribes on YouTube channels respectively by showcasing the way they play video games. PewDiePie even earns US$15m in total in 2016 [2].

Teams & Leagues
A report from Newzoo shows that there are about 400 million audiences in 2017 while 191 million are E-sports enthusiasts [3].

Under these huge-scale events, sponsorships are lured. Be it technological companies: Logitech and Intel, or the prestigious global automobile manufacturers: Mercedes-Benz and Audi [4] are dashing in to sponsor the events. It reveals that some players are the working classes with high income. Reports show that a total of 35% of e-sports viewers are within the age bracket of 25-44 years old [5], and 61% of 18+ e-sports viewers are earning in excess of US$50,000 a year [6].

E-sports capitalize on the gaming as the favorite pastime of digital natives and millennial – playing games or watching game content . It opens up vast opportunities for youth-related companies can take advantage of this trend to connect with their targeted audience.
For instance, a video game streamer on YouTube (Fantasy Dream Net) established a NGO targeting on youth by the network of his channel. The channel narrows the scope of audience to the millennial it targeted, and thus he could better approach the hidden youth who is the ardent player of video games.

E-sports are creating social bonds as well as connection of experience through MMOGs. Different stakeholders in the marketing space can now leverage the emerging opportunities to build brand and promote their brands/products within the thriving e-sports activities. In the future, with more extensive recognition of MMOG e-sports, there would be more comprehensive training, education and world-class competition spearhead by relevant authorities. E-sports marketing are there to flourish with innovative marketing promotions ideas.

[1] Stuart Dredge (2014). Angry Birds has lost 63m players since 2012 (but it still has 200m left). the guardian
[2] Olivia Blair (2016) PewDiePie named as highest-paid YouTuber in 2016. Independent
[3] Global Esports Market Report Light 2017 (2017). Newzoo
[4] Saqib Mansoor(2017).2017 League of Legends World Championship Attracts Mercedes-Benz and Other Non-Endemic Brands. Segmentnext
[5] Distribution of eSports viewers in the United States in 2016, by age group(2016) Statista
[6] GameScape (2017) Interpret, LLC
[7] Global Esports Market Report Light 2017 (2017). Newzoo