Before the Covid-19 pandemic, esports was still viewed as the territory of nerds, not suit-wearing businessmen.
Over the past few years, gaming and esports has gone through a cultural transformation, with brands and gamers alike realizing its growing role as a pillar of popular culture. These days, people don’t attend esports events just to feel the thrill of competition – they go to network, too.
Twenty years ago, consumers defined their cultural image through the music they listened to, the clothes they wore and the sports teams they supported.
Today, the emphasis is shifting towards things like what games consumers play, what their avatars look like and how they behave and express themselves in the digital realm.
Games-related video content is now viewed by 10% of consumers every month (6% view esports) with Google, Amazon and Facebook all competing for attention in the space. In terms of music, there is a rise of digital concerts with games serving as digital music venues. Cosplay is speaking to people on the fashion side, while esports have been making strides to intertwine with traditional athletic brands and talent.
The games and gamer communities don’t carry cultural relevance among just those who play games. Not everyone plays games (47% of consumers play mobile games, 29% console games and 28% play PC games). But almost everyone at this point is regularly exposed to someone who does. Most parents don’t play Fortnite, but a lot of them could tell a story about how their kid’s talk about a Fortnite session affects them.
The fact that games create emotions (both positive and negative) for people beyond just gamers is:
– an opportunity for brands and content creators to tap into,
– a testament in itself to the degree of cultural relevance games carry today.
One example of how brands and content creators have tapped into esports in recent years are the multiple partnerships that the music industry has struck with different esports teams. These partnerships allow established music industry entities to ingrain themselves in the esports culture, which can lead to more authentic engagement and activation.