But why aren’t more non-endemic brands jumping at the chance to be part of esports?
Before I start, there are some brands who are firmly embedded and doing a brilliant job.
Fortnite is a particular brand favourite for brands. Nike took its Air Jordan I trainers to the platform in May, giving players the chance to play in a pair of Jordans and embark on challenges to unlock exclusive skins and skateboard sprays.
And who could forget Wendy’s collab, which saw the creation of its own avatar following the announcement that Fortnite was introducing a food fight mode?
“We didn’t want to show up as another brand advertiser paying for in-game logos or ads,” explains Carl Loredo, US CMO at Wendy’s.
But for every Nike and Wendy, there are an unlimited number of non-endemic brands who seem wilfully blind to the benefits of esports. More lucrative than video and music combined, the games industry in the UK is worth £3.86bn. That’s a lot of billion.
Gaming isn’t niche. You only have to look at the fact that fashion house Moschino created a Candy Crush capsule collection, or that Premier League footballers frequently borrow dance moves from Fortnite to celebrate their goals. Mobile gaming is rife, profitable and with the advance of 5G, only set to increase in popularity.
Yet too many brands still insist on seeing all gamers as anti-social teenage boys, trapped in their bedrooms for hours on end. Its a blindspot that people inside the industry struggle to understand.
Greg Carroll, commercial director for advertising in EMEA at games publisher Activision Blizzard, the owner of King, (who own Candy Crush) insists that brands need to start getting on board now, rather than later.
“Why then do we [class] gaming as this niche platform where we think anti-social people in their basements are playing games, when in fact there are billions of people playing casual games across the world?” he asks.
The esports industry is still an under-leveraged market with one of the most engaged audiences out there. Collaborating with a gaming brand can give businesses instant access to a highly engaged, fiercely loyal, gender diverse audience, which — depending on the game — could be far younger than their traditional target market.