2020 was set to be a big year for esports and gaming. So, when esports became the only ‘competitive sport’ with Covid-19 lockdown measures in place, the sport exploded even beyond the experts' predictions. A marketer and an esport talent tell The Drum how brands can ride this wave.
According to the recently released YouGov 2020 report, between 60 to 82% of the population across the South East Asia markets classify themselves as gamers, playing games like PUBG Mobile, Arena of Valor, and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
For Thailand’s Bacon Time, which has a commercial partnership with esports media company Ampverse, it has seen views of around 50 million from fans watching the team play across social and digital channels between January to July this year, reaching over 120 million views to date.
“There is around 2.7 billion gamers worldwide and it's rapidly growing with some of the greatest growth has really come from the Asian region, particularly South East Asia, which is really exciting, but dominantly through mobile,” says Jenny Hall, director of sales and brand partnerships at Ampverse during The Drum's Digital Summit.
“In Singapore particularly, around 47% of gamers actually said that they feel that they are gaming more now because of the Covid-19 lockdown than they were before.”
This means more brands are getting into the esports and mobile games spacers ride the growth of the sport during the pandemic. Singapore-based Internet company MyRepublic has created a new gaming engagement programme for popular esports games.
The programme, called Achievement Unlocked, is tied to games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Monster Hunter World Iceborne, Legends of Runeterra, Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
When it comes to working with talent in esports, Chiang Wen Jun, the founder of Pog Esports which competes in FIFA, says the most important thing that he tells any brand he is working with that esports players are usually very shy.
This means they are in need of a lot of media training, as compared to athletes in other sports.
“I always tell the brand partners that I have, “let's make sure we get the media training aspect done right for our players because they can get a bit shy”. These guys are used to staring at screens for about 10 to 12 hours a day so they do not really have a lot of human interaction unless it is necessary,” explains Chiang, who quit his job as a banker to go into esports.
“We put them through a lot of rehearsals, make sure they are prepared to face the media and if they're more confident, they can market the brands a lot better. The brand should always look at type of the personality of the players.”
He adds: “Don't just try and give us your brand message and expect it to work in this market because it's usually very different from anything that we see outside of esports. So we try and tailor our content to our market and we try and work in-game mechanics as well as the brand message into our ultimate advertising pitch.”
By and large, Chiang says the brands he has worked with recognised that they need to change their message slightly for the esports market and have been very willing to let him take the lead on the creative process.
According to Chiang, brands are willing to accede to his recommendations as long as its not too far-fetched.
“For me, I'm someone who is a bit more antagonistic. People in the competitive FIFA scene will know me as something being like Conor McGregor who sits in a chair. So I'm very aggressive with my opponents,” he jokes, referring to the former mixed martial artist.
“I try not to swear when I'm not playing, like when I'm doing proper interviews, I will dial it back. Although sometimes the fans want to see the passion and I think the brands who worked with me understand that, and they embrace that part of me. So I'm very grateful for them for doing so.”
Jenny Hall and Chiang Wen Jun spoke with The Drum at The Drum’s Digital Summit, a week-long online event helping marketers to get inspired, find solutions and harness the power of marketing. You can watch the interview in full here.
Sign up to watch forthcoming sessions and see the full Digital Summit schedule here.