The coronavirus-imposed lockdown will provide an opportunity for brands to unlock the power of gaming, and its audiences, according to Chester King, chief executive of the British Esports Association.
Speaking in an interview as part of The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival, King highlighted how the ability for esports events and competitive matches to be played behind closed doors and then streamed online will give the sector an advantage in a world where everything from the Olympic Games to Wimbledon has now been postponed or cancelled.
“What is interesting is now all these other sporting events are cancelled, esports has the ability to keep on going,” he said.
“My hope is that sponsors who have taken their money out of live sports will have revenue to invest with us.
"If more people are going to be self-isolating and playing or watching video games then you can see the potential for brands like Deliveroo or Uber Eats to get involved.
"Brands built on enhancing people’s home life are going to realise esports is a great thing to be attached to, and it’s the reason we now work with brands like Coca Cola and Mercedes Benz.”
King also gave his thoughts on how brands with cancelled events can adapt to coronavirus and still please their fans.
He explained: “The Australian Grand Prix was recently cancelled, but [organisers] ran a simulator video game race online with some of the drivers instead, and it worked really well.
"It's now going to do a series of races during the lockdown and that's a great example of how brands can think outside of the box and gaming can help to fill the gaps.”
'Gaming can be a force for good'
King also spoke of how the ascendant esports industry is looking to change perceptions over the coming years, providing to sponsors how a lot of the negative connotations surrounding gaming are false.
More and more brands are waking up to the idea that gaming can be a “force for good," he said.
“A lot of kids just can’t play sports emotionally or physically, but I believe brands are realising that esports can be fully inclusive,” he claimed. “We’ve done a lot of work in alternate provision schools, which house kids who have been expelled from other places, and where we’ve introduced an esports program, truancy levels have fallen 20%. It shows esports can be a force for good and how games can really improve the mental health of young people.”
He added: “We’ve also worked with the Royal Air Force (RAF) to show how gaming can combat loneliness.
Over the coming years, we're going to see the industry communicate the benefits of competitive gaming, which is like the modern version of chess, a lot more.
"We want parents to wake up to the fact games can teach their kids leadership strategy skills and that the more brain training they do with video games, the better their brain function and defence against dementia will be in later life.”