As a kid, my life was tough. My parents loved both their children equally. Except the one that played video games. They liked that one less. My mother never saw any clear line between gaming and drug abuse. But I survived and this is my story.
I have been a gamer all my life but it was quite recently that I was introduced to the world of e-Sports. That’s when I started following the League of Legends World Series.
If I ask you which is the most watched sporting event?
You may say at once- it is probably NBA or NHL or Football! Actually it is that computer game that neighbor kid of yours keeps playing. Ask the kid what is he watching on his phone and he would tell you – e-Sports.
E-Sports is full of wow moments, where much like traditional sports- underdogs will steal a victory within a second, godlike figures are brought to tears on losing. This is basic human nature. It is emotive, representative of a player beyond just their talent and skill, which is why viewers connect a lot.
The world of e-Sports is a universe in itself and is suddenly all grown up. Your old-school die-hard football fan may roll his eyes, but e-Sports—professional video gaming is way more than just an activity, it is a full-fledged spectator sport now. Garnering ticket sales, attracting major sponsorships and grabbing a growing share of advertising money, it is directly eating into the share of traditional sports.
WHY SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT THESE VIEWERS?
For one simple reason- it is the most attractive segment. 71% of people who watch e-Sports have a full time job and more than 50% of these are in the age group 21-35, which is often described as the most attractive target group in marketing. More interestingly, males between the ages of 18 and 25 in the United States already prefer e-sports over traditional sports. If this is not it, hear this- Watching e-Sports ranks second in preferred media after movies. There are so many gaming titles that now belong to the e-Sports league.
But my personal favorite is the League of Legends-for it has sheer number power. More people watched the League of Legends Mid-Season invitational last year than the Euro cup final or NBA final or any sporting final for that matter. There were 360 million such people. To give you a perspective, that’s more than 5% of the world’s population.
This year the Finals will be organized in a sold-out stadium in China. This is why I ask you to keep your eyes on China this year if you are a marketer.
Now at this point, most people would disagree with me and say- Well, this may be the case abroad, India is different. We only love cricket. According to ESFI (e-Sports Federation of India) – It is estimated that India has around 264 million online gamers. That’s 20% of our population! Are you surprised? So am I- but for a different reason
THE MARKETING ANGLE
I am surprised because the market is so huge and purely untapped. Marketers simply ignore the existence of this cultural phenomenon. It is important that we acknowledge that Pop Culture also changes. As technology advances it regularly effects our culture. Increasingly, e-Sports events are being held at enormous venues and stadiums. It’s one of the fastest growing industries, growing at a rate almost faster than show business. The magic of e-Sports isn’t just in the gameplay itself, but in the personalities and culture. E-Sports has changed the world as we know it. So the next time you do your regular ‘TG exercise,’ don’t just look at movies, songs and TV shows.
Reaching gamers however, can be an incredibly difficult task given that these folks can be really nasty if an outsider tries to infiltrate their culture solely for monetary gain. That’s why an authentic approach is imperative. Many of the people involved in this industry also have a lot of passion for gaming and e-Sports as a whole. They want to see this scene grow and succeed because they see the potential it has.
The people who are pushing the growth of e-Sports are all really invested. They have been working towards making e-Sports recognized as a legit sport. So much so that Paris 2024 Olympic organizers are “deep in talks” about including e-sports as a demonstration sport at the Games. Not only this, competitive video gaming will also be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games.
The league of Legends World Finals will happen in China this year. And if you really want to know what your ‘TG’ will be doing this fall, keep your eyes on China.