What is esports?

What is esports?

Nov. 24, 2020
Insights 6 min read

And can you activate your brand through the esports?

“Esports” is a term given to playing a bunch of different video games in a competitive format. Recently, the term has evolved into jaw-dropping shows, full-blown offline events on huge stadiums and millions of loyal fans from all over the world. Is esports considered a sport? No doubt. Besides the fact that esports has the same ethics commitment, it fits the dictionary definition where “Sport” is an activity that involves physical exertion and skills in which an individual or team competes. Moreover, in addition to popular streaming services like Twitch, esports championships have started to be broadcasted across well-established sports television networks. 

Not all video games are considered esports titles, like not all sports are considered the Olympic ones. The most popular esports games are Dota 2, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Fortnite. 

What are the basic elements of the esports ecosystem?

Many people think that esports is just a set of games and teams of players who compete with each other. But actually the esports ecosystem is quite complex and consists of various tightly interconnected elements: All Gaming, Amateur Competitive Gaming, Channels or platforms, Professional Competitive Gaming, Teams, Publishers, Brands, Leagues, Fans.


Without a doubt, esports is a lucrative business opportunity. Why?

According to Newzoo, total esports audience will grow to an incredible 453.8 million in 2019, and it is a +15% year-on-year growth. This total number consists of 252.6 million of viewers and fans and 201.2 million of gamers. In 2017, the total number of fans was 335 million, then 395 million in 2018, and there will be 645 million people including 347 million viewers and 297 million gamers in 2022. Such a rapid growth of popularity and audience whips up the number of local and international events, leagues, and media rights prices. 

All these people are a completely new audience for both the young brands and established corporations who want to chase elusive millennials. This audience has a different mindset as well as entertainment tastes. Games, not just casual entertainment, are their lifestyle. They do absorb popular culture like music and films, but most of their leisure time is spent playing with friends. However, this territory is relatively uncrowded, and those brands that grasped it already enjoy attention and affection of the growing esports community. 

Let’s have a look at Red Bull — one of the leaders in innovative brand integration. One of the most popular streamers in the world Tyler “Ninja” Blevins often plays till the last bit of his energy. It is native for Red Bull to become one of his sponsors being able to prove product quality in the real life situation, i.e. during hardcore gaming marathons. Millions of Ninja’s followers see him drink Red Bull and going on playing. There is no doubt that for their next game they will choose Red Bull based on the classical marketing communication model – Endorsement. Consumer research proves that esports audience is more than thankful and loyal to the brands that enter esports. They prove it with their wallets too.  

What does WePlay! have to do with esports?

One of our core competencies is the development of exciting esports formats and amusing shows that the esports community loves. WePlay! Esports creates unique esportainment formats that help us attract both hardcore fans and casual viewers that are fresh to esports. We make not just tournaments, but unforgettable dramatic shows with engaging storytelling. We create unique opportunities for native brand integration that is always off the beaten track. 


What is the main esports audience?

There is a popular myth that the core esports audience consists of socially unadapted, immature young people without any interests outside of gaming who constantly sit at home and play games. These notions can be easily dispelled by simply looking at the statistics. 

The Nielsen 2018 Esports Report showed that 80% of European esports fans are male and 20% are females. Their average age is 26. Over three quarters of the audience is 18–34 years old. And it is very young compared to the fans of traditional sports. According to the same report in 2016, the average age of fans of the Olympic Games is 53 years old, NFL – 50 years old, NHL, UFC – 49 years old, and NBA – 42 years old. No wonder McDonald’s stopped sponsoring the Olympics.

The income of esports fans is above average in Europe and the US. 

Each fan spends between 1 and 10 or more hours on esports weekly (watching online, attending events, competing, etc.) but this does not mean that they sit at home rooted to their chairs all the time and play. They are young, daring and active. They attend various parties, read and discuss books, watch TV shows, and generally lead an active social life. And most importantly, they are the first to spend money on new gadgets from the world of technology and entertainment, which makes them both pioneers and influencers at the same time.

According to a study by MEC Consumers Pulse, esports fans are completely open to non-traditional brand communications, allowing companies to take advantage of new platforms and approaches: 58% of them support organically represented brands, 57% want to try new brands, 53% are willing to share personal information with brands, 48% buy new gadgets and  56% like products from newsletters.


Can a brand integrate into esports?

Almost any brand can integrate into esports given native and engaging integration. But why do brands do so, and which of the well-known companies have already dug deeply into esports?

  • Esports is a fast-growing industry with enormous promotional potential. Brands reach millions of active users – more than 380 million in 2018, and the number will increase to 550 million by 2021. 
  • The audience of physical sports slowly but surely moves online, and this factor increases brands’ interest in online sports. 
  • The arsenal of integration is quite extensive and includes studio integrations, integrations in tournament broadcasts, offline integrations in LAN finals, integrations in social media, video integrations, external integrations like billboards and other types of outdoor advertising. These forms include verbal mentions in native scenarios, product demonstrations, brand identity in studio design, branding of a Twitch channel, replays of the best moments from sponsors, contests and activations, inGame integrations, tournament video reviews, backstage videos and many more! 
  • Native integration and lifestyle content can be a real salvation for a brand, since over the years Internet users have formed the so-called “banner blindness” — the phenomenon of ignoring parts of the screen with any advertising content. In addition, according to Social Media Today, around 30% of internet users have ad-blockers that simply remove pop-ups and other types of ads on pages.
  • Among sponsors, there are already such giants as Adidas, Airbus, Coca-Cola, Intel, Red Bull, T-mobile, Audi, Benq, Logitech, Monster Energy, and others. If someone understands sponsorship and investing, it is them.