Why Digital Marketers Cannot Ignore the eSport Hype

Gamer sitting playing a game at a tournament

A robust marketing strategy is essential for any business. But for any digital marketing campaign to be successful, it is vital that the business understands the user experience of its current clients and the clients of the future.

eSports is one of the biggest phenomena of recent times and any business hoping to understand what kind of products or services are relevant to younger audiences will benefit from learning about this development in online gaming.

What are eSports?

The name eSports is short for ‘electronic sports’ and refers to the professional field of video gaming. Competitions are held in public arenas all over the world and players compete at a range of multi-player video games for prize money. The games are the same titles that can be played on home consoles. This gives home gamers the chance to practice and excel at certain sports.

Events can attract huge physical crowds, while millions more can watch via online streams. The prize money can be huge. In the recent FIFA eWorld Cup, overall winner Mosaad Al-Dossary clinched a cool $250,000 for beating Belgium’s Stefano Pinna.

The market is expanding at a remarkable pace. Revenue has risen from $747.5m in 2015 to an estimated $1b in 2018. Much of this is generated through advertising and sponsorship while the amount of money generated through betting and fantasy websites is growing fast. Established sports bookmakers such as Betway Esports now offer odds on major eSport games including Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Hearthstone, League of Legends, SMITE and StarCraft 2. Revenue from eSport betting is expected to exceed $100m in 2018.

The future of eSports

With the European and North American markets still in the early stages of development, the industry is set to soar in the coming years. Events are now making their way onto major TV networks and established sports channels are adding eSports to their line-ups. There is even talk of eSports being included at future Olympic Games.

As more people become aware of eSports, popularity is set to grow. eSports are already an established part of life for the younger generation, and it is this audience digital marketing companies are seeking to understand in order to remain relevant.

Ready for the mainstream?

The sheer numbers involved suggest that eSports are set to break into the mainstream. Gaming organizations such as Denial, AHQ, Gfinity, and MLG all have multiple eSports leagues online and at various locations around the globe. Many eSports companies have attracted big investors, and some have been floated on their local stock markets.

It is clear that eSports are heading for the mainstream and major events will soon sit alongside traditional sports in the annual calendar. Older generations may find it difficult to contemplate such a situation, but for younger people, the eSports scene is already a big feature on their cultural landscape.

Online marketing screen on a ipad

The importance of eSport culture to digital marketing

By looking at trends among younger generations and the motivations that drive these trends, digital marketing companies can produce much more relevant marketing strategies. And, for large brands, this can mean getting actively involved in the relevant field. Brands that are already active in professional sports can easily make the transition to eSports via the team, player and tournament sponsorship, or through standard advertising.

Some global brands feel the market is still too niche but others are keen to get involved at ground level, realizing the potential of engaging with a younger audience at this level. For those companies, making the right impression and tapping into the mindset of the gaming community is essential. They need to think carefully about how to connect with fans in a natural way.

This means understanding the games, the competitions, the players and those that pay money to watch eSports live. It means living and breathing the experience to understand exactly what the sports mean to those involved. It means appreciating the journey eSports have taken from small home-based communities connected via basic networks to global competitions with Olympic potential.

Digital marketing companies that achieve this can then work with key figures and celebrities from the gaming community to deliver authentic and successful strategies.

Michael Pignataro
co-CEO - Operations at 'corePHP'
Michael spearheads ‘corePHP’s software solutions and service offerings. Focus on sales and marketing for the organization. A huge believer in family and has an amazing wife and 4 beautiful children. Loves camping and hiking.

Michael's philosophy is simple: "If you can dream it, we can do it."