Today I am not going to blog so much about the illusions we face in the e-sports market but rather going to address something that everyone gets so wrong including myself about 100 times. That is how truly popular a game is, what the games demographic is and how that relates to sponsorship. I am going to break up the blog into sections to try to make myself more clear as we all know that I can get a bit cloudy at times. Here goes.
One of the most common stats put forth to a potential sponsor is the number of copies of the game sold. This in my eyes and as I have found out from meetings in the past is a mistake. Just because a game sold 4 million copies does not mean you are going to be able to have a reach of 4 million. This stat is irrelevant and amateur and it should stay out of proposals. Alternatively it has also been used in the past to justify the size of something such as “starcraft 2 is so big it sold millions of copies”. Again wrong as it does not represent the reach once again. I don’t have solid figures on log-ins for Starcraft 2 so its hard to give a solid number on how popular a game truly is. We have all bought a game which we no longer play (hello electronic arts, have you fixed sim city yet?) and there is always a game we only play casually and don’t pay attention to for me that game is dota2 but we all have our games.
The true popularity of a game is one of the most important selling points for the e-sports side of the game. How many hours does the average player play? On average how many of these players browse forums or social media for the game? If you can pull these statistics out you will have a very valuable set of figures even if the figures are low.
As time moves forward the demographic of gaming is constantly changing. When I was first getting into online gaming (56k was amazing) the demographic would have capped out at 28. So I would argue that the demographic at that time was males aged 13 to 28. This demographic is very specific but also very short lived. E-sports is unique because its a slower moving technological evolution. The players are maturing with the industry and there are always new arrivals to the scene at the lower age groups. However the e-sports scene itself seems to have a higher entry age than the entry age of gaming. As of today I would argue that the e-sports demographic was mostly males (not just males) aged 16 to 38 with a high percentage growth of female participants. Further more the demographic itself is unique in ways that common advertisers may not be used to. The ways the demographic is unique is as follows:
– The participants no longer watch television due to the online media revolution (i.e they download the shows they wish to watch or watch them online via available sources)
– The participants are ‘immune’ to regular advertising (in order to get their attention you have to create the image that you are contributing to the community rather than just flashing ads in their face)
– The participants are skeptical of the ‘new’ and do not respond positively to drastic change
In my research these are the 3 major unique factors of the e-sports demographic. The fact that we, as gamers and online personalities are ‘immune’ to regular advertising is the most hard hitting and game changing factor. It forces people to think outside the box and create new forms of advertising to the demographic (additional costs). One of the things great about e-sports is that you can ‘sponsor’ a team or player to do that for you within its capacity. Being able to sell based on these facts is the first giant step towards making the e-sports industry profitable. Unfortunately it hasn’t been done properly yet with the exception of a few (Kingston Hyper X and EG etc.)
Recently I have had to prove my knowledge for media and marketing to a few people. Lets get this straight, its not my profession and I have learned ‘on the job’ and I am by no means a professional media expert. I do however possess a large amount of common sense and I could sell poop in a bag if it would make me money. But the old style of business is creeping into the e-sports arena that logically will not work due to the demographic. When seeking a sponsorship you will most likely be directed to generic Mc Secretary the lady or man who is in charge of shredding excess paper sent to their offices or copy pasting rejection emails. I used to have sponsorship emails forwarded to our finance department which really pissed them off. Your first task will always be getting by Mr/Ms Mc Secretary so that you can present your case.
You have to be armed to the brim with information and ability to sell a sponsorship these days or one hell of a net-worker. I choose the former route as networking is fly by night in my opinion and solid relationships are built on knowledge and ability not friends of friends. Anyway to the point, if you have all the information you need you also need to be reasonable with your information. Lying about how great something is will always blow back into your face and leave scar tissue that will last forever. I have met with a few companies whom have been badly burned from e-sports or gaming before and were not willing to even consider re-entering even with the information. Remember that if you go into a meeting and act a fool you hurt everyone not just yourself.
Sponsorship doesn’t have to be the only means of income for the industry. I have often referred to it as lazy money. You do the same thing you do everyday and get a lump of cash for it. It keeps you alive but does not push you forward. Selling unique advertising opportunities and website hits or even sales is the way to generate buzz around your product and to seal the deal you will probably end up with a sponsorship anyway. It is also a true test of how valuable your demographic is. If you can actually sell a product to the people who follow you you can get any company on board and make an income. If however you just get sponsored and don’t help the product sell you will likely find that sponsor leaving you. Solid sales ability is yet to be shown in the e-sports community and I truly await the day that it does because then everything will change for the better.
To gain some data I have set up a survey on this topic. If you could be so kind to take the time to complete the survey I will truly appreciate it. The survey can be found here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7YNNJB5
As usual my blog today comes with a disclaimer. Firstly I am not the deity of e-sports. I don’t know everything but am merely promoting the flow of information and ideas. Don’t take what I say as gospel but rather use it for information to prove and or disprove your ideas. I always welcome constructive criticism and respect it. I also appreciate awesome trolling so if you have some good one liners please do post them (the last few troll attempts in the comments section which I deleted were pretty lame. C’mon guys you can do better than that). Ultimately it looks like I won’t be returning to the e-sports space however doing blogs is always a lot of fun.
Joshua “Happyboss the serene” Dentrinos
You can follow me if you like on twitter: @gosutrading