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1 Introduction in:

Julian Heinz Anton Ströh

The eSports Market and eSports Sponsoring, page 13 - 15

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3891-8, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6648-5, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828866485-13

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
13 1 Introduction 1.1 Problem Statement In the last decades, the market for digital games has grown to nearly $100 billion.1 During this growth, a special gaming segment and community formed surrounding the direct competitive aspect of games: eSports. The core of eSports is similar to traditional types of sport. Players train to become better, clubs are established, tournaments are organized to compete against each other, and fans enjoy watching their game being played on the highest level of performance. Media expert Michael Wagner identifies the growth of eSports as "a logical and irreversible consequence of a transition from an industrial society to the information and communication based society of today."2 In South-Korea this transition has already put eSports on a level of maturity and social acceptance that is in no way inferior to traditional sports. ESports in Western cultures still lags behind this status, but recent developments show that it is steadily catching up. Historically, gaming as competitive sports started in university labs, got popular in amusement arcades and went on at LAN-parties and on the Internet. Finally eSports rose to become a new media sport attracting millions of viewers and filling large arenas for live competitions. In such a live competition, The International DotA 2 Championships 2015, all five players of the victorious team Evil Geniuses became millionaires by winning record prize money of approximately 1.32 million U.S. Dollars each.3 This exemplifies that eSports cannot be seen as a marginal or regional phenomenon anymore, but has grown into a whole new globally spread industry with athletic professionalism and economical significance. Due to this significance, the eSports ecosystem and its key components are investigated as first main objective of this thesis. This investigation reveals, that companies from the computer and gaming industry acting as sponsors to present and promote their products are the most important financial pillars and key drivers of eSports. Additionally, with progressing professionalization and growing viewership numbers in the past years, eSports increasingly attracts sponsors from outside the computer and gaming sphere as well. This importance and ongoing diversification of sponsors make sponsoring in eSports with its unique aspects, risks and opportunities a marketing field especially worth researching. Consequently, sponsoring within the eSports ecosystem with a regional focus on America and Europe has been chosen as second main objective to be analyzed in depth in this thesis. Sponsoring of endemic companies is naturally rooted in the eSports clockwork and eSports affine consumers are a fit by definition for those sponsors. Considering 1 Cf. Newzoo (2016f), pp. 10-13 2 Wagner (2006), p. 3 3 Cf. Tassi (2015) 14 this, the current increase of attention from non-endemic companies in Western eSports, and the major consequences their entrance may have for the whole ecosystem, the exigency for research on non-endemic sponsoring is higher in comparison in the author's opinion. Furthermore, no former scientific efforts were taken in this specific subject according to the author's state of knowledge. Thus, non-endemic sponsoring was chosen as the center of the analyses and the consumer behavioral aspects of such sponsoring are the focus of the conducted primary empirical research. To gain insights into these aspects - which are decisive factors for effective and successful sponsoring - a recent example of non-endemic sponsorship in Germany is used as case study and evaluation approaches for sponsorship effectiveness used in sports sponsorship literature are modified for eSports and this example. 1.2 Disambiguation To disambiguate the term eSports4 (abbr.: electronical sports) for this specific thesis, a broader definition of Wagner is introduced first. He defines eSports as "an area of sport activities in which people develop and train mental or physical abilities in the use of information and communication technologies"5 in which the term sport is mainly defined via the attributes of 1) voluntary engagement, 2) conscious development of mental or physical abilities, 3) comparison with others and 4) acceptance of rules according to the definition of sport scientist Tiedemann.6 Taken this as basis to describe the fundamental activity, in this thesis eSports refers to the playing of digital games on a platform such as a PC, a gaming console or a handheld device for the primary aspect of competition mostly in an organized framework, e.g. in leagues, tournaments and ladders, on an amateur or professional level. To exclusively describe the professional level the term pro-gaming (professional gaming) is often used in culture and literature. This definition clarifies, that eSports does not describe a single type of sport but is a superior collective term, comparable to e.g. water sports. ESports contains different eSports game genres, each requiring different specific abilities to play. These genres consist of games that require rather similar basic abilities. As used by Wagner (2006), Müller-Lietzkow (2008) and Breuer (2011), the term eSports discipline is used in this thesis as synonym for a game that is relevant for eSports. The term sponsoring needs to be disambiguated from the term patronage. A definition in the matter of marketing determined by Hermanns (1997, pp. 36-37) and used by Drees (2003, p. 49-50) states, that "a company acts as a sponsor when it supplies a sponsored counterpart (e.g. a person, group, organization or institution) 4 Other notations: esports, e-sports 5 Wagner (2006), p. 2 6 Cf. Tiedemann (2004) as cited in Wagner (2006), p. 1 15 that is part of its social environment with financial capital, products or services in exchange for rights to use the sponsored counterpart and/or its activities for communication purposes on a contractual basis."7,8 The emphasized difference to patronage is a clear expected benefit by the sponsor to reach commercial targets, while a patron's contributions are donations without own commercial, but only altruistic, underlying motives.9 7 Congruent translation in regards to content as seen in Drees (2003), p. 49 8 Comparable definition also to be found in Gross (2015), p. 34 and Bruhn (2010), pp. 6-7 9 Cf. Drees (2003), p. 49; also see Bruhn (1987), p. 190; Bruhn (2010), pp. 3-7

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Abstract

In the last decades, the market for digital games has grown to nearly $100 billion. During this growth, a special gaming segment and community formed surrounding the direct competitive aspect of games: eSports. The core of eSports is similar to traditional types of sport. Players train to become better, clubs are established, tournaments are organized and fans enjoy watching their game being played on the highest level of performance. With viewers and prize money in the millions, eSports have grown into an economically significant media sport ecosystem and a marketing landscape that started to attract non-endemic companies as advertisers and sponsors. This book analyzes the components of the eSports ecosystem as well as their interactions with each other. Furthermore, the attitude of eSports fans towards engagements of non-endemic companies is researched by using a real case study including the Electronic Sports League and German home loan bank Wüstenrot.