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Rise of eSports potential goldmine for marketers

Rise of eSports potential goldmine for marketers

Playing computer games competitively can gain players celebrity status and fortune, just like other professional sports, according to research by a Marketing Lecturer at Victoria University.

Dr Yuri Seo from the School of Marketing and International Business at Victoria Business School says computer gaming, or eSports, has developed its own culture and is on the rise worldwide.

Far from the traditional model of sitting at home alone playing computer games, gamers can now immerse themselves in the gaming world—attending eSports events, watching eSports media on Internet TV or visiting Internet cafes to connect with other gamers.

To gain a competitive edge, says Dr Seo, gaming companies need to tap into this world, involving their consumers in creating experiences that will keep them hooked.

According to Dr Seo, US-based Blizzard Entertainment, a developer and publisher of entertainment software, is a standout example of succeeding with this approach. The company’s annual revenue increased from $40 million in 1995 to $5 billion in 2012—and Dr Seo believes this can partly be attributed to Blizzard’s collaboration with the eSports governing bodies, broadcasting stations and consumer communities. Blizzard also involves its end users from the beginning, employing star players to pre-test new games prior to their official release.

“It’s essential to engage with opinion leaders and understand the value consumers are getting out of the experience. If marketers look at their games purely as escapist activity they are missing the additional opportunities.”

Dr Seo says that in New Zealand, although the eSports phenomenon appears to be in its infancy, many Internet cafes in Auckland have their own gaming teams and participate in tournaments. Some New Zealanders have qualified for the World Cyber Games, an eSports tournament comparable to the Olympic Games for traditional sports. The tournament is held internationally each year, involving more than 50 countries and 13 different forms of eSports and attracting more than 9.5 million spectators worldwide.

Dr Seo says eSports has particularly taken off in South Korea, which has several dedicated television channels that broadcast computer-game events.

“Playing computer games is not just about leisure any more—it’s a way to find friends, community, and maybe even a profession.”


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