This weekend, Fortnite’s World Cup sold out more than 23,000 seats at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens (the same stadium that hosts the US Open tennis tournament), proof that the stereotype of the lone, antisocial, basement-dwelling gamer no longer holds water.
A 16-year-old from Pennsylvania took home the first-place purse of $3 million. To put that in perspective, the winner of the U.S. Open later this year, at the same stadium, will collect $3.85 million. Brands are taking notice: Just as Roger Federer will walk into Arthur Ashe this fall wearing Uniqlo, several teams in the Fortnite World Cup wore jerseys featuring their sponsors’ logos, including Wix and GrubHub. This influx of sponsor dollars will only continue as traditional sports struggle with keeping the attention spans of younger audiences.
We took a look at the modern gamer to see what these companies need to know before dipping their toes into the eSports world. As expected, this group is 84 percent more likely to be male (vs 73 percent more likely for Sports Enthusiasts) and 331 percent more likely to fall in the 18-24 age group (vs 24 percent more likely for Sports Enthusiasts) than the average American. "It's great representing the old dudes,” said the 24-year-old, second-place winner at this weekend’s event. He was one of the oldest competitors among the all-male qualifying group.
While eSports enthusiasts are social within the comforts of their gaming chairs interacting with like-minded people on their platforms, they tend to be less friendly and compassionate (67 percent more likely to be Analytical & Detached VS 24 percent for Sports Enthusiasts) compared to the average adult, according to the OCEAN model of personality types. They are also solitary and reserved, playing back into the stereotype, despite the sense of community their hobby can foster. eSports fans and gamers are what we like to call extroverted introverts, preferring to interact with other gamers on streams, chatting, drinking and snacking together, strategizing within their virtual realities.
In addition to the arena-filling tournaments, these gamers are very social on platforms like Twitch, they have constant in-game interaction with their allies, and they often take these relationships offline -- even leading to marriage in some cases.
Advertisers can’t just treat eSports as another interchangeable piece of their sports strategy and repurpose creative from football to Fortnite. Advertisements reaching the eSports audience must be targeted, engaging, and short – as continuous gameplay with limited interruptions is highly valued. Marketers should target specific games as each one is like a different sport, and potentially offer in-game rewards in exchange for their attention. This strategy worked for Gillette, which is closely associated with the world’s most watched eSports game, League of Legends.
Because of the social nature of eSports, viewers and players will share their opinions on brands without reservation, so it’s important to completely understand this demographic when marketing to them. When you get it right, you’ll have a long-term loyal fanbase.