How to integrate a brand into a video game tournament

How to integrate a brand into a video game tournament. Credit: WePlay Holding

6 min read

3.1 billion people on the planet play video games. So more and more companies wonder how to advertise their brand through games.

Almost 40% of the world’s population. That’s how many people play video games, according to the 2020 data by the DFC Intelligence research company. The questions business representatives ask most often are: what the best way is to advertise through esports, which game is the most profitable to integrate into, and what the cost of advertising is. Valentyn Shevchenko, head of business development at WePlay Esports, answers these and other questions concerning integration into esports tournaments.

Valentyn Shevchenko, head of business development at WePlay Esports. Credit:: WePlay Holding

Valentyn Shevchenko, head of business development at WePlay Esports. Credit:: WePlay Holding

Could you describe the profile of the esports audience: their age, gender, occupation?

– The average age of the esports audience in the world is 18–35 years old, and it represents 13–14% of the world’s population. It’s also predominantly male — men are still much more numerous in esports than women. Esports has long since ceased to be entertainment for a very limited audience, so we are talking about representatives of the most diverse fields of activity. For them, playing or watching tournaments is a way to relax, unwind, take a break from work. It should be noted that the number of video game fans is constantly growing, and by 2024 the global gaming audience will reach 577 million (according to forecasts by NewZoo analysts). And along with the growing interest in video games and esports in particular, the attention of advertisers to this area is also growing.

Statistics. Credit: WePlay Holding

Statistics. Credit: WePlay Holding

What are the games most often chosen for integration?

– The choice of an esports discipline for advertising integration largely depends on its popularity. CS:GO, Dota 2, and League of Legends lead the way among other games in terms of advertiser interest. Mobile games — Arena of Valor, Mobile Legends, Wild Rift, PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire, Fortnite Mobile — are also gaining momentum right now due to their convenience. A game takes less time on a mobile device than on a PC. If your average Dota 2 or CS:GO match lasts 40 minutes, for a mobile game it’s down to 15. Internet speed or the device’s computational power most often don’t matter either — even the most basic smartphone is enough.

What kind of companies choose esports for integration?

– A variety of brands integrate into esports: from car manufacturers to FMCG. If before, brands would interact with their target audience through advertising on TV or product placement in shows and series, now they are looking for new platforms to make a statement in an unconventional manner. Esports allows brands to present their product creatively and unobtrusively, generating positive emotions for the audience and without resorting to annoying advertising that interrupts the best part of the movie.

There are numerous scenarios for how a brand can be advertised in a broadcast, for example, mentioning a product on the air, additional full-screen graphics, special titles, a banner under a broadcast. Broadcast graphics can be either standard or tailor-made for the brand. Another option is a Twitch extension that makes the integration clickable. (Twitch is one of the world’s most famous platforms for broadcasting gaming and esports content. — Ed.). Thus, the brand can both advertise and interact with the audience — as long as the ad looks native.

Valentyn Shevchenko, head of business development at WePlay Esports. Credit: WePlay Holding

Valentyn Shevchenko, head of business development at WePlay Esports. Credit: WePlay Holding

What does it cost to integrate a brand into esports?

– Companies come to esports with advertising budgets that vary widely. An indicative check can range from $40,000 to half a million dollars. The cost depends on the “service package,” i.e. the number of instruments involved. For example, to create augmented reality, you need to engage more resources, which affects the final cost. Each integration implies systematic work involving an individualized, personalized approach. Careful thought should be given to the format of brand interaction with the viewer: on the one hand, the product must be advertised, while on the other hand, the audience should not be distracted from the game. That’s why the WePlay Esports team is developing creative integration options, for example, having the Dota 2 donkey deliver McDonald’s burgers during the broadcast.

Could you tell more about examples of integrations with WePlay Esports?

– Yes — let me highlight a few memorable integrations and talk about them in more detail.

In 2021, energy drink brand Monster Energy was integrated into the broadcast of BLAST Premier: Fall Season 2021, a series of CS:GO tournaments. An activity was created together with WePlay Esports: during the broadcast, viewers would press the “comeback” button to support their favorite team, which then helped fill the viewer energy dial. After enough clicks, the commentators would announce that the viewers in the chat were calling the comeback room. This was done so that the losing team would feel the love and support of the audience at difficult moments in the game. In addition, a fridge with Monster Energy drinks was placed in the studio, drawing the audience’s attention.

Together with McDonald’s, we created a series of SFM movies that would be played during WePlay! Mad Moon. In them, the donkey courier (a Dota 2 character) would overcome various obstacles to safely deliver McDonald’s burgers. The movie got a positive response from viewers who saw it during the broadcasts. The next time they come to McDonald’s, this funny character may be the thing that springs to their minds.

McCourier for Dota 2. Video credit: WePay Holding

The automotive brand Haval has integrated into the Russian-language broadcast of the PGL Major Stockholm 2021, a global CS:GO tournament. The result was a video where you could see both the cars and game characters. The slogan of the Haval company was specially adapted for esports — you can still see different versions of it at other esports events. This suggests that the integration has made an impact, and viewers associate the slogan with Haval and the PGL Major Stockholm 2021.

In 2019, the WePlay! Reshuffle Madness 2019 for Dota 2 took place, sponsored by Pepsi, which at that time owned the “Музикозалежні” (“Music Addicted”) communication platform. For this tournament, the WePlay Esports creative team together with the brand came up with an activity: each tournament day would start with music. The audience could choose songs and name them in the chat with the hashtag #музикозалежні, and the next day, the invited DJs would remix them live. The WePlay Esports team made an animation of a record spinning on a DJ console and added the Pepsi logo to it. Throughout the tournament, there were 300 song suggestions, and the brand was mentioned 1,500 times.

At the end of 2021, WePlay Esports became the host of the official broadcast of the large-scale CS:GO tournament series — the BLAST Premier: Fall Final 2021. Energy drink brand Tornado Energy was among the sponsors. Whenever the brand logo appeared during the game, WePlay Esports talent Oleksii “уХо” Maletskyi would yell: “Tornado Energy! Tornado Energy!,” which stuck in the audience’s minds.

G2 x Nip + yXo Tornado Energy. Video credit: WePay Holding

Find out more about brand integration on the WePlay Holding website.