What will it take for brands to get serious about eSports?

Whether you’ve heard about eSports or not, the industry is set to generate revenues to the tune of $696 million and bring in $517 million in brand investment in 2017, according to Newzoo. With the global eSports audience predicted to reach  385 million in 2017 – comprising 191 million eSports enthusiasts and 194 million occasional viewers – the latest pillar of entertainment is here to stay.

Ahead of his keynote at All That Matters, Kevin Lin, COO of Twitch – the world’s leading social video platform and community for gamers – shares with us what it will take for eSports to reach its highest commercial potential.

[Meet him and other top global gaming leaders at Gaming Matters, part of All That Matters happening from 11-13 September at the Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore.]

Branded: Why is advertising yet to pick up for eSports? What’s the potential of eSports for brands?

Kevin: eSports is a new live spectator experience, one that is truly native to digital media. While endemic advertisers like Nvidia, Logitech, Corsair, Razer, Intel and others have been supporting eSports for nearly a decade, it’s natural for brands that are unfamiliar with the industry, to be cautious while investing in it on longer term basis.

Moreover, eSports is constantly evolving along with the advancements in technology and growth of the industry. This makes it difficult for brands to find a proper entry point, but eSports represents a rare combination of a highly desirable, hard-to-reach audience and authentic fanaticism and hope of an audience that want their passion to reach bigger and more global audiences.

“Non-endemic” brands like Coca-Cola have quickly but carefully entered the space, constantly evolving their marketing, establishing themselves as one of the early supporters of eSports. As both a fan and an industry professional, I offer up our learnings, as I know many in our industry would, to help brands embrace eSports in the best way possible.

Branded: eSports seems to be increasingly expanding to content – through films, TV, etc. How do you see the future of gaming and entertainment converging?

Kevin: The line has always been blurred. Games tell a story through an interactive format, but the characters and lore are as deep as they are in entertainment, whether written or visual. I see companies like Blizzard, who have historically woven amazing heroes and stories into their games, pushing the envelope by blending gameplay with beautiful cinematic experiences, as we’ve enjoyed throughout Overwatch’s development. Gaming has transcended the “interactive entertainment” category that it was previously narrowed into.

While this concept is not new, game companies are becoming better at combining their skills with technologies to convincingly deliver movie-quality experiences. With the numerous successes of comics in theaters, for example, I see this lines blurring further. Already, some of the most recognizable characters in the world are born from games – Mario, Sonic, Master Chief, Steve, Teemo and so on. Tack eSports on top, and I’d argue that there is no line at all.

Branded: What are the most and least promising areas of eSports?

Kevin: This is a tough question, as I see eSports as a truly green-field opportunity. I’d say nearly everything happening in eSports is promising, from thoughtfulness of game companies in their development of new competitive titles to the fervor of the eSports audiences. My primary concern is that with any nascent and fast-growing industry comes frothy speculation. eSports will grow, but it will take both historical knowledge and the openness of new thinking. I caution but encourage folks that are interested in investing in the space to do their due diligence, as every piece of the ecosystem is still in an early developmental phase.

Branded: Which are the high-potential markets for Twitch in Asia?

Kevin: South Korea has long been a hotbed for talented eSports professionals, with dominant players in many of the top eSports games. Thus, it’s no surprise that our audience loves tuning in to watch top Korean players streaming and sharing their thoughts and strategies.

Japan, a country that changed the way we play games and continues to innovate in ways that help connect cross-generational gamers, is an obvious market for Twitch as well, already being home to many of the top Fighting Game players. Taiwan is already one of our biggest countries, with approximately 25% of the population tuning into Twitch on a regular basis.

We are seeing more talent rise out Southeast Asia, with a healthy PCBang/LAN Cafe scene helping connect gamers around competitive passion. And of course, China is another source of both top games and top players, with heavy investments from China’s top companies helping to grow the industry both in China and worldwide.

How is Twitch diversifying to tackle competition? Where does it see real competition coming from? Hear Kevin answer all these questions at Gaming Matters on 13 September at the Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore, along with leaders from brands such as Ubisoft, Bandai Namco, ESL, Riot, 4:33 Korea, Gamevil, Intel and others.Book your tickets and join in the conversations shaping the industry globally.

5 nights of music, 3 days of conference and one All That Matters experience!

With over 30 Keynotes already announced and more to come, there has never been a more valuable time to be part of Asia’s biggest entertainment event of the year! Join us at All That Matters to hear from and connect with key decision makers from the entertainment industry.


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