Considering this year’s projected esports revenue of $1.13 billion, an audience of 258 million, growing interest from organizations on all sides of the business, and surging mainstream popularity, who wouldn’t want to get involved in esports?
The competitive gaming market reaches new highs year after year, and it’s a great time to learn about industry trends and find a place in an exciting phenomenon. Enter the esports conference eSCon Europe, which will run April 5-6 in London.
Building a thriving esports industry
The recent growth of the industry has attracted many outside organizations. Increasing investments from non-endemic entities show the industry is heading in the right direction.
This being said, there are still challenges that face strategic and successful investment. eSCon will host various industry experts who will share their thoughts on upcoming challenges, uniting the esports market, and creating an environment that will attract new investment.
What are esports’ biggest challenges in 2017?
As more esports broadcasting outlets emerge, there’s a high chance of content overlapping. This results in the cannibalizing of esports viewership. Moreover, as games become more mainstream, the need for professionalization also increases.
But let’s read these sentiments in the words of eSCon’s forthcoming speakers.
M&C Saatchi Director & Head of Entertainment Jodie Fullagar commented:
“I feel the biggest issue by far is still esports’ image problem. Despite the industry headlines heralding the stratospheric growth of esports, many British brand marketers are skeptical about the mass appeal of hard-core gaming tournaments to their customers.
The classic stereotype of geeky teen fans still holds. There has been an emergence of small scale sponsorships, but no meaningful commitment yet from non-endemic brands. I believe esports’ image problem is at the root of this.”
British Esports Association Chair Andy Payne said the many opportunities in esports can create challenges, and the infrastructure in the UK can also feel lacking.
“As esports builds more profile and awareness grows globally, issues around safeguarding of minors have the potential to cause concern.”
On another topical page, Véronique Lallier of Hi-Rez Studios had this to say about pressing immigration concerns:
“The changes to immigration law in the US and UK is obviously concerning. There are a lot of things that we don’t know yet with Brexit, but the likely changes will make it harder for people to travel and will therefore interfere with esports. We actually already had an immigration issue with our US-based tournament and harder border control might influence decisions regarding the location of esports events.”
According to Alexander Inglot from Sportradar AG, 2017 could become the most challenging year for the industry so far.
“The most famous players and their organizations will need to maintain the highest professional standards, while tournament organizers will need to maintain a sensible tournament schedule that doesn’t cause the over-saturation of events like we saw in 2016.”
Building cohesion in esports together
Industry experts agree that professionalism and proper organization are essential aspects that need to be addressed.
Moreover, welfare of players is also among the most important focal points. Because there’s no globally established standard in the industry at the moment, the risk of bad practice is high.
eSCon speakers have weighed in below on these concerns.
Ninjas in Pyjamas CEO Hicham Chahine had this to say about a measured, professional approach to the industry:
“Non-endemics need to understand all the details before getting into the space. Today, I see a lot of entries and deals being made which have no substance or done without realistic expectations, which leads to great disappointment. This is not ideal for the long-term growth of the industry.
In addition, teams, tournaments, media, and broadcasters need to come closer together to develop and deliver high-quality, valuable products and experiences to fans and viewers all over the world.”
Here’s Josh Watson of Psyonix on similar issues:
“From a publisher’s perspective, we often have the mentality that our games have to directly compete against other products within the medium. This line of thinking spawns from the idea that fans can only follow one sport. This thought process is flawed and neglects the notion of the ‘sports fan’ found in traditional sports.
As publishers, we should be looking to our colleagues for promotion and support. Competitive gaming is young, and resources are much more limited than [in] traditional sports at the moment. We could benefit from more communication and collaboration between games.”
Attracting new investments
Outside investment in the industry has grown tremendously, especially in the last couple of years. Traditional sports organizations are acquiring esports squads, and outside companies are showing business interest in tournaments and other esports-related events.
Below, industry experts share their views for how more investment can be attracted.
Once again, here’s Chahine from Ninjas in Pyjamas:
“[We need] professionalization of the industry through proper business conduct, sustainable framework for operation of teams and tournaments. Transparency. Honesty. At the end of the day, we need to focus our efforts on what gives value to the industry as a whole rather than having a short-term focus which affects the long-term stability of investments done into the space.”
Watson again stressed collaboration:
“Esports as a whole would benefit from taking time to disseminate the information necessary for our potential partners to have an intimate understanding of our games and audiences. As developers and publishers, we should also keep in mind that these brands have their own consumers, and as such, our products should be sensitive to the values of the brands. “
Here’s what M&C Saatchi Head of Digital Ellie Reed said about future investments:
“Globally, non-endemic brands such as Snickers, Barclays and Gillette have started to invest in esports sponsorship, paving the way for others. I believe more brands will experiment with esports sponsorships as the scene expands.
In the meanwhile, new learnings emerging on marketing ROI will help give us a clearer perspective on esports’ relevance for brand sponsorship, and this will certainly help attract bigger investments.”
Intelligence and know-how at eSCon Europe
This is only a brief preview of the valuable insights that await at the eSCon Europe esports conference.
The conference is intended for all parties — including publishers, law firms, industry teams, endemic and non-endemic brands, tournament organizers, media and brand agencies, streamers, traditional sports representatives, venue owners, investors and venture capitalists, gambling industry experts, and other interested fans.