Content

4 Conclusion in:

Julian Heinz Anton Ströh

The eSports Market and eSports Sponsoring, page 90 - 93

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3891-8, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6648-5, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828866485-90

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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90 ated relevant content and developed linkages is demanded in the future, as well as their respective impact on the determinants of sponsorship effectiveness. Concerning possible image transfer effects, long term studies are necessary as a different perception at the event can only be seen as an indicator, as clarified in chapter 3.4. As Wüstenrot extended its co-operation, a panel432 researching Wüstenrot's future efforts and image within the target group would grant further valuable insights. Another area about which this research does not provide information are possible negative effects of eSports sponsorship that it may have on the respondents that showed an overall rather negative attitude. An investigation into such negative effects is granted in Sachse (2010). An application of Sachse's findings in the matter of eSports is also a starting point for future research. Siebert (2013, pp. 49-57) emphasizes that the subtleness and often unconscious perception of event-sponsoring activities demand for the application of implicit methods that do not require prior conscious processing of the respective sponsorship when surveying event visitors, because the less prominent and more subtle a sponsoring is visible, the less likely it is consciously processed by the recipients. Due to the exploratory character of this thesis' research and the complexity of implicit methods,433 measurements were only conducted explicitly. This means, it only measures the conscious effects on the attitude towards Wüstenrot and its sponsorship, if the sponsorship is cognitively processed. The results in chapter 3.6.4 affirm, that the prominent appearance of Wüstenrot on the event site as main sponsor, e.g. with the largest information desk and ads being displayed during breaks, prior conscious processing was on a satisfactory level. Yet, as mentioned in chapter 3.6.5.2, the high amount of neutral ratings is an indicator for rather limited cognitive processing of a certain share of the respondents. In future research that seeks to measure all effects of eSports sponsoring in deeper detail, implicit effectiveness measurements should be included. To do so, Siebert's (2013) approach can serve as a basis. 4 Conclusion ESports outside South-Korea has gone through a rapid development in the past years and risen to a media sports industry with a large, growing and maturing fan base and a market size that is estimated to exceed $1 billion soon. This development is characterized by an increasing level of professionalism within all its components. Players have fixed contracts and training schedules within their respective pro-gaming eSports club. These clubs have grown into professionally and profitoriented managed companies that are gaining significant brand equity and fandom 432 Information about panels is available in Kreis et. al (2014), pp. 159-177 433 For an overview on implicit methods see Siebert (2013), pp. 27-53 91 that even enables them to generate revenue with merchandise and attract outside investors. A new important force in the future will be traditional sports clubs that start to integrate eSports in their sports portfolio. Their economical power and social reputation can have significant impacts on the whole ecosystem: They are a chance for eSports in general on the one hand, but also a threat to native organizations on the other hand. The role cannot yet be determined and is an aspect to be closer analyzed in future research. Further important steps for the sports aspect of eSports are further recognition as sport by sports associations and governments, the handling of risk factors to protect integrity and the establishing of strong club and player associations. As for now, the interests of clubs and players are mostly underrepresented and the respective publisher as holder of the intellectual property mostly acts as undisputed governing body. These publishers have experienced a paradigm shift in the past years and are now heavily involved in the organization and support of well functioning competitive scenes. ESports transformed from a side-effect to an important marketing tool to promote games to increase direct game revenue and is further transitioning to a new revenue stream itself by connecting fans with brands to monetize them. Publishers pursue different approaches as exemplified with Riot Games and Valve and the further development of differently managed scenes of eSports disciplines may reveal which precise role publishers will or should play in the long-run. Some publishers work closely together with large eSports providers like ESL and MLG, which was even acquired by Activision Blizzard, to organize large offline events for the major leagues and tournaments. These events and the prize money have grown accordingly and are filling large multi-purpose halls worldwide opening direct revenue streams like ticketing. The events are the gateway for players, fans and brands to the offline world, in which eSports also started to take root with venues specifically dedicated to eSports. As such gateway, they grant opportunities for industry partners to directly get in touch with the target group in their emotional exciting eSports environment. Furthermore, broadcasts of an event's competition can generate media reach in the millions via online streaming, the main media channel for eSports. These broadcasts are professionally produced by publishers like Riot Games and eSports providers like ESL and MLG. Besides this, also teams, players and fans produce streaming content and their popularity makes them attractive brand endorsers for companies. The increasing media reach of pro-gaming has also attracted classic television networks that integrate eSports into their program to reach the millennials - the main age segment within the eSports fans - whose traditional TV consumption is low in comparison to older age segments and further decreasing. If successful, this expansion towards classic TV can be a decisive factor for eSports to enter mainstream culture in the Western world and may further extent the eSports audience. 92 The rise of eSports disciplines on mobile devices as well as the emergence of VR contains further potential to attract new viewers. All these developments make eSports an attractive advertising environment. Companies from the computer and gaming industry using eSports commercially are and have always been a fundamental pillar of the ecosystem. Regional settling of clubs and new solutions for in-game branding may increase sponsoring opportunities and effectiveness in the future. With increasing professionalization and media reach, an increasing number of eSports unrelated companies start to integrate engagements in eSports into their communication mix to target the economically very attractive, but hard to reach millennials. These companies are potential catalyzers for the whole ecosystem. While big players from second degree industries are already heavily involved in eSports, the appearance of third and fourth degree companies remains still rather rare due to several entrance barriers. Established eSports focused agencies can help diminish barriers caused by unfamiliarity with eSports, but a certain degree of uncertainty about the acceptance amongst the fans within the eSports environment and the potential effectiveness of sponsoring activities remains. The conducted empirical research was designed to shed a first light on the attitudes of German and European eSports fans about such third and fourth degree sponsors, exemplified by a home loan bank, to evaluate effectiveness. In general, the eSports fans realize the necessity of sponsoring and do not perceive it as disturbing. Overall, a large majority of respondents has a very appreciative mindset towards outside sponsors and only a minor share refuses such sponsors by default. In conclusion, the basic initial conditions for non-endemic sponsors are favorable. This is further strengthened by the results of the image analysis that revealed indicators for significant image transfer effect. Yet, a high degree of skepticism concerning honest interest in eSports remains. The findings indicate that this lack of authenticity can be diminished by creating relevant eSports related content, which is further identified as an important key to effectively reach the millennials with eSports sponsoring by experts. In the author’s opinion, it is important for a non-endemic company, once it identified potential lucrative sponsoring opportunities by conducting company specific market research, to not only strive for mere media exposure, but for being perceived as quasi-endemic in the long-run by creating such added value and making long-term concessions. When starting to do so now, an outside brand can become a real part of eSports for rather low cost and contribute to and highly profit from further growth and mainstream integration of eSports in the future. In this future, the author predicts eSports to be legally recognized as a genre of sports disciplines in most parts of the Western sphere which goes along with fixed regulations, e.g. concerning rules, anti-doping policies, and player rights, and gov- 93 ernmental support increasing eSports' standardization and organizational efficiency. In the process, structures and processes of traditional sports as well as South- Korean eSports will be adapted. In contrast to this, eSports is expected by the author to be perceived as something different from sports within society. Yet, further involvement of traditional sports clubs as well as sports TV channels may be a counter force to this expectation. FPS games will remain a hotspot for negative publicity, but still, positive aspects of video games and eSports are likely to be recognized to a higher degree leading to an overall better reputation of eSports in general. By that, the status of eSports in Western societies will steadily approach a level of acceptance it already has in China or South-Korea today. From an industry and media perspective, the author expects an improvement of the interplay of the components within the ecosystem and furthermore an increasing significance of traditional TV, that may play a vital role for mainstream attention towards eSports. As a result, the efficiency with which eSports is utilized and monetized as media sports in combination with its growth will make eSports more valuable and profitable for all stakeholders involved and an attractive business opportunity for outside investors. The high investments of companies that already started to use this opportunity put eSports under a the risk of overinvestment that can severely harm the whole ecosystem if the high growth expectations cannot be fulfilled. But no matter how fast eSports keeps growing, it is already at a state at which it is highly recommendable and even necessary for marketing managers and executives to drop outdated stereotypical attitudes towards competitive gaming as a leisure time activity for lazy adolescences and start to see it as a serious, globally spread media sports industry that is supported by millions of economically attractive, socially influential and highly engaged fans and brings forth its very own unique superstars, success stories and goosebumps moments.

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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.