While eSports are still seen as an emerging trend, the industry generated in excess of $748 million (£515 million) in 2015 and is anticipated to be worth more than $1.9 billion (£1.3 billion) by 2020, according to data firm SuperData Research.
The sector has grown in line with more powerful consoles and the ubiquitous popularity of online gaming worldwide. Yet gaming is no longer the preserve of those with a controller in their hand, YouTube’s gaming channel generates more than 3.5 billion views each month and 71 million people watched competitive gaming events in 2015.
As such brands have the potential not only to tap into the interests of players but to reach an even broader audience through influencers.
Building brand engagement
Global brands are now starting to recognise the potential of this industry to build product awareness and to tap into new markets through event sponsorship, but so much more can be achieved by offering unique experiences.
This season FIA Formula E has hosted simulator races at ePrix to provide fans with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pit their skills against the professional drivers participating in the all-electric series.
Such unique events build brand affinity in a way that few others can. No longer do fans have to sit at home and dream of racing alongside their heroes, thanks to Formula E’s partnerships with rFactor, Forza and event sponsors, they can make this a reality. That is truly priceless and reaches a sizeable and focused audience who are pre-disposed to positive opinion of those brands.
From console to cockpit
Truly innovative partnerships are now emerging, grabbing column inches and creating a buzz on social media from fans, the media and industry professionals alike.
This week Sony announced a partnership with the FIA as part of their Gran Turismo Sport launch, which will see in-game progress count towards a racing licence. The game will track both driving skill and on-track etiquette, providing players a cheaper and more accessible first rung on the motorsports ladder.
The move mirrors the much-acclaimed GT Academy, a partnership between Nissan and Playstation, which has seen graduates such as Jann Mardenborough and Lucas Ordoñez go on to compete in such prestigious racing series as the FIA World Endurance Championship and GP3.
Be in no doubt that such partnerships will shift units and generate hype ahead of games launches, as well as extending their shelf-life – GT Academy has kept players returning to Gran Turismo 6 three years after its launch.
Esports aren’t coming, they’re here. And they offer a wealth of PR and marketing opportunities for even the most established brands to reach a highly engaged and potentially lucrative audience. Can you afford to miss out?