Sponsorship and esport? Two experts weigh in
WITH a lot of hype and buzz around esports globally, two experts have given their opinion on where the sport stands in the Australian landscape at the moment and whether sponsors should get involved.
The interest in esports in Australia is growing rapidly, with IEM Sydney selling approximately 18,000 tickets on May 4th and Battle Arena Melbourne selling 2,000 tickets to players & fans to compete at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre last weekend.
Managing Director of Event Sports Entertainment, Rohan Sawyer, said esports in Australia is showing positive growth but caution should be taken from sponsors.
“To be honest and I think many on the inside would agree, 2018 is essentially year one in professional esports in Australia,” he said.
“Esports is a relatively small space when it comes to partnerships and advertising, it should be part of a portfolio for anyone trying to speak to 13 to 26-year-olds but in investment terms, a small weight.”
“In Australia, there is only one truly professional league, the Oceanic Pro league (OPL) run by Riot Games, with approximately 30,000 viewers game day domestically and over 200,000 globally.”
Sawyer believes “when the common miss perception of “gamers” change, so will it’s growth.”
“I would estimate between League of Legends and Overwatch, the largest games with leagues here in Australia there would be 2 million or more “registered” gamers.”
“Not bad when you compare it to AFL and NRL on registered players basis, which both combined would be about the same numbers.”
Director at Business In Games, Chris Smith, agrees that growth in esports will come from the passionate fans.
“Build it and they will come,” he said.
“Gaming is becoming more mainstream every day, think of it like traditional sports, If the NRL becomes extremely popular in school to play in the playground, you’ll start to see that the professional sport starts to pick up pace – similar with games, with things like League of Legends and Fortnite taking over schools, those who look to become better than the rest will begin to gravitate towards esports.”
A simple LinkedIn post by Chris on how to spell ‘esports’ received nearly 20,000 engagements by fans, which shows just how passionate they really are.
Both Riot and Blizzard (Overwatch publisher) say our region has one of the highest spend per head per capita of gamers anywhere in the world and as the recent Nielsen report into the Australian market highlighted, they do have brand association to esports sponsors.
Sawyer’s advice for sponsors looking to invest in esports is to start small like all investments into a new space.
“Let’s not spout the big global numbers and instead be creative in developing assets that aren’t all about eyeballs.”
“Start talking to teams, players and the leagues, we are all looking for the right partners and if someone asks for hundreds or thousands of dollars most likely it’s thanks but no thanks.”
“Many in esports may not remember the digital and tech booms but let’s not let something like this happen to esports and lose years of investment as we sold ‘hype’.”
“Now is the time to be involved, do your due diligence and come on what will be an amazing journey.”