Looking Forward: Are Smaller Mobile Esports Events Right for Your Brand?
As we take a brief break from the immediate challenges of the pandemic, let’s look forward to where marketers could see big growth down the road. Without traditional sports dominating viewers’ eyes, esports or egaming has gained much more attention. Unlike sporting events, some of the leagues and events in esports have been able to continue more easily online, for obvious reasons.
What are esports?
For those of you without 13-year-old gamers at home, esports are just what you probably think they are. They are organized leagues or events around popular online video games. They range from first person role-playing games like Fortnite, League of Legends or Call of Duty to fighting games like Street Fighter or Tekken to sports-themed games like NBA 2K20, FIFA 20 or Rocket League. The list goes on.
And despite our comment about 13-year-olds, the truth is, esports events been drawing huge crowds for the better part of a decade. Last year’s Fortnite World Cup sold out Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York (23,000+)1 and drew more than two million live viewers online2. And that wasn’t even close to being the largest event. Professional players have achieved a level of celebrity rivaling that of popular athletes thanks to tournaments and livestreaming or video platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. Star gamer Ninja even appeared in an NFL commercial at the beginning of the Super Bowl. Esports popularity has only increased during the pandemic, having soldiered on online.
The audiences are growing in demographics as different games come out that appeal to different gamers. Event popular athletes have gotten into the act. Click over to ESPN and you just might see clips of idle NBA stars playing each other in NBA 2K20 tournaments, with Sportscenter anchors calling the action.
In the U.S., (people watch) gamers on YouTube and Twitch. Some fans are not even gamers. Instead, they are watching it for the personalities themselves, commenting on their game play.
Dan & Phil, two U.K. guys who play The Sims and make videos of themselves playing it, have more views on a five-minute upload to their YouTube channel than prime-time news programs on CNN, MSNBC and Fox.
- From “Global Esports Popularity Give Gamer Companies Reason To Be Bullish,” Forbes.com, May 29, 2019, by Kenneth Rapoza3
What does this mean for marketing roadshows?
It’s good news. Really. As marketers look for ways to be relevant and responsible with experiential events post-pandemic, mobile esports vehicles could be a big component to attracting 20-something consumers to their brands. Certainly, many brands already associated with esports have been leveraging mobile events for some time.
Smaller mobile events will be favored over large arena-based gatherings of people. And mobile esports tours can be designed to work effectively on a smaller scale.
The real question is, does it make sense for YOUR brand?
If your think mobile Esports events are only for brands like Red Bull or Doritos, consider this. The audiences for gaming experiences and events are as diverse as the games that are being played. Like everything else in the marketing mix, content matters. Is there gaming content that connects to your brand and your customers? The primary audience for, say, The Sims is quite different than the audience for Rocket League, which is also different than League of Legends.
The point is that the popularity of these games and live events is increasing and drawing a broader audience, making mobile esports platforms an even more compelling channel for engaging consumers.
Plus, gaming experiences at events are not really new. Over the years, we have seen video games become more integrated into experiential marketing vehicles as ways to draw attendees in. Some of our earliest work was developing racing simulators for NASCAR racing events. They were highly effective tools for delivering an experience that was well-connected to the brand. In esports event vehicles, you have the opportunity to do the same thing — aligning your brand with gaming experiences that are consistent and appropriate for your audience.
What makes esports ideal for when events become less restricted?
The key in operating in an eventual post-pandemic world is that experiential marketing events will need to be smaller and more portable in reality, and more sharable and responsive online. There will undoubtedly be new restrictions on crowd sizes, sanitation and relative social distancing requirements that could also vary from state to state. Esports events should allow you to adjust the ratio or real-world components to online experiences as needed.
For example, in the near future gatherings may be restricted to only a certain number of people. So your real-world event could be an invitation-only gathering, with a livestream of the event allowing many more to experience the event from afar. Brands’ in-person and virtual experiences will need to be more closely aligned than ever in real time, but giving in-person experiences, perhaps, even greater value.
So how do you make a mobile esports event vehicle happen?
Fortunately, the elements needed for esports events are very similar no matter what game is being played. At SPEVCO, we even have a pair of roadshow-proven esports event vehicles already built and ready to go, along with operators who know the gear and tour logistics inside and out.
The details and specifics around the game and your brand are what really make each event unique and ownable. We approach it like our other experiential vehicle projects to develop a finished vehicle designed and built to meet your specific objectives, whether we leverage one of our available esports vehicles that are ready to go, or develop a new vehicle from the ground up.
We invite you to contact us for a closer look at our esports capabilities and why we see mobile Esports events as an opportunity for brands to engage with consumers again in a much needed and fun way. We also encourage you to talk with us about other custom specialty vehicles needs your brand or organization may have during these challenging times.