Let’s recap on the eSports and brand partnership landscape
At the start of 2020, and the global pandemic, the brand partnerships team here at Ingenuity predicted a high rise in interest of esports and brand sponsorship collaborations.
Fast-forward to today, that prediction has come into fruition at full force.
COVID-19 has opened pandora’s box when it comes to the different avenues of advertising within the esports spectrum. It’s been a game changer, excuse the pun, for brands and brand partnership behaviour, with non-endemic brands in entirely different realms to esports, finding a way to hop onto the esports trend to put a fresh spin on their brand angle.
Is the interest in esports still skyrocketing?
As a consequence of COVID-19, working from home, and remote working, advertising budgets shifted from OOO to content and social. Cryptocurrency and NFTs, which were ultimately born in the gaming industry, continue to dominate headlines and given the drop in temperature outside, there’s a desire to stay at home glued to our digital screens.
Whether you’re a PC gamer, Console gamer, the partner of a gamer or dabble in Candy Crush, the lack of want to step outside in winter (and during a global pandemic) means we’re continuing to see growth in the market of esports and brand partnerships.
The appeal of esports has also astronomically heightened, especially with families who now use gaming as a means to connect. Shoutout to Nintendo and the Wii who first made this mainstream.
This not-so-newly formed gap in the market has been given a new lease of life. Consumers have been finding (and are still finding) new ways to connect with loved ones and friends digitally, which gives brands an opportunity to leverage in game advertising and sponsorship to drive their own commercial agenda. It’s not a niche market of gamers enjoying gaming, the appeal stretches across multiple demographics and interests.
The landscape of gaming has changed
Historically, gamers were seen as people who spent days in a dark room strapped to their PC or PlayStation on a 3-day COD marathon. Now it’s so much more than that, a person playing RollerCoaster Tycoon on the tube, is a gamer, which means investments in the eSports and brand partnership sector have rapidly expanded, with an insurmountable amount of interest from not only the investors, but also teams and consumers and influencers such as PewDiePie, VanossGaming and KSI.
It’s been a harmonizing relationship between supply and demand. Whilst gamers are sitting at the edge of their seats to play new sponsored games and buy merchandise from their favorite YouTube stars, affiliated brands are chomping at the bit to be seen on esports platforms or in front of esports audiences. This means cultivating the right partnerships, with the right people, to be seen at the forefront of the esports community.
The esports brand partnerships we love to see
Esports brand partnerships born in last year or so include our very own David Beckham. His British esports organization Guild esports, who partnered with the Irish Football club Finn Harps FC, is a big move and an opportunity to raise awareness of the brand to Irish fans, as well as encouraging Irish FIFA gaming talent to join Guild’s academy.
BMW partnered with Psyonix’s game Rocket League, and the car manufacturers’ new BMW M240i is being integrated into the game. They’ll also be the title sponsor of the Rocket League Open and Rocket League Freestyle tournament.
A household name in the gaming community, FaZe Clan streamer Nick ’NICKMERCS’ Kolcheff has made it the big leagues, by being the first official ‘gamer’ to be signed to Apple-owned audio brand Beats.
Another merch brand partnership has come to life with the elite fashion brand Champion and the North American eSports organization Complexity. They collaborated and launched a limited streetwear capsule titled ‘DOMAIN’. This collection is the most recent in a line of sportswear and designer collaborations. This is the new world of leading fashion brands tapping into the market of esports and targeting new consumers.
Diversity and equality across the games industry has erupted and taken flight, especially for the non-profit organization Women in Games International (WIGI). Games publisher Activision Blizzard have agreed on a partnership with WIGI, who will receive a grant of around £733,250. This grant will be used for exceptional purposes such as professional development and mentorship programs, it will also be used to help in accentuating WIGI’s mission of advancing economic equality and diversity in the gaming industry. With all eyes on Microsoft’s next move having purchased Activision last week for a stonking $69 billion. Gamers and brands alike will be watching their next move into Metaverse like a hawk!
The ones to look out for this year
An exciting partnership that has been announced is a collied between the crypto world and gaming. Guild Esports announced there £4.5m partnership with cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp, an exciting three-year venture that will include Bitstamp’s logo being featured on Guild Esports’ jerseys as well as across digital content with the organization's content creators and players.
The renewal of the biggest esports and brand partnership in history is worthy of honorable mention. ESL gaming and Intel will commence their partnership this year and will see brands investing over $100m over the next three years. Not only that, but it will mark their 20-year-long collaboration, making this partnership the longest running one in the history of esports thus far.
Who does it affect and how can my brand be involved?
In essence, esports brand partnerships affect everyone. Not boxed off to traditional ‘gamer’ consumers but ‘gifters’ too, parents with expendable cash, friends, peers, and so on.
A huge pull factor for consumers is the thrill of experiential and buying products associated with their favourite titles. So, brands must consider this, plus global markets, budget, buying rights and digital inventory. It’s not a walk in the park...
The successful partnerships in this space lie in collaboration, creativity, and forward-thinking brand relationships to deliver against commercial targets. Whether you’re sponsoring a team, a player, a league or dabbling in in-game advertising and product placement, the key is to get the targeting and messaging right.
What do I do if I don’t know where to begin?
If you’re a rights holder working in the commercial team in esports, you need to focus on how you can creatively target the right partners to develop a valuable, long-term relationship that supports the growth of the team and competition, but also provides something for the fans who follow you.
If you’re a brand seeking to get into esports and require support on entry, how to budget or which part of esports to break into, feel free to get in touch.
Ingenuity London is a consultancy business that helps rights holders’ source new brand partnerships through creative partnership, sales development and implementation. We also help consult brands on their marketing objectives and help them find the right agency or rights holders to partner with to solve a variety of challenges.
In short, if you’re in the space, we’d love to talk to you. Drop me a line and let’s chat!
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