Looking into the E-Sports and gaming industry is like peering into a newly budding universe. Social integration, growing spectator platforms, and a constant introduction to new audiences perpetuates the popularity of e-sports entertainment.
In 2020, over 82% of the global population played and or streamed video games. It’s estimated that the U.S. gaming industry generated $116.3 billion from 2021 and 2022, a 15% jump over 2019 and 2020. This success sparked a new generation of competitive gamers and gaming personalities, and brands have noticed. With more gamers than we’ve ever seen, the impact can’t be understated.
The Power of Partnership
These days there’s a streaming platform for everything—TV, movies, music, games, real-time moments, you name it. Twitch, a pioneer of the modern streaming platform, continues to grow. 2022 viewers watched over 1346 billion minutes of streamed content, or 2,560,000 years depending on how you look at it. Gaming is often the top content streamed on the platform, and it’s opened the gates for massive celebrities to emerge. Brands, developers, and games alike are jumping at the chance to partner with talent from the platform.
In 2018, Drake and pro-gamer Ninja broke a streaming record while playing Fortnite, with 635,000 active viewers at one time. While the new record is over 3.3 million, the Drake and Ninja collab marked a key milestone in the growth of the gaming community.
Epic Games developed a partnership with both Drake and Ninja, creating avatars, outfits, and other in-game content. Since the event, there have been countless partnerships between game developers and celebrity personalities—and brands are finding ways of getting in the mix. Both Nike and the Jordan brand have found unique ways to promote their products in the gaming world, with Fortnite and the Call of Duty league as top platforms.
Iconic skate brand Vans recently introduced its own experience within gaming platform Roblox, which operates as a digital store of sorts. Vans World is a place where users can style, create, and adjust their Roblox avatar, with real-world products linked to each piece that’s available to purchase.
A New Era of Competition
Competitive gaming isn’t anything new, but it continues to expand, attract talent, and grow as a market. Streaming, social media, and the games themselves are developing players online to compete. When competition heats up, viewership explodes, and brands want a piece.
The NBA is no stranger to e-sports, creating its own NBA 2K league, with 22 NBA and 3 additional international teams represented. These teams compete annually in championships, rally for draft positioning, and have a similar structure to the actual NBA. Many major consumer brands have already begun partnering with the 2K league—think OREO, Google, Champion, Sony, Bud Light and many more.
One of the largest competitive events worldwide is the Evolution Championship Series, otherwise known as EVO. It attracts the world’s best gaming talent every year to compete for best-in-the-world honors across many games. In 2022, EVO generated over 3.7 million viewers, with games like Tekken 7 and Street Fighter attracting most of the attention.
In 2023 EVO will return to Tokyo, bringing the anticipated event back to one of the world’s largest markets. Brands—including Microsoft, Sony, Twitch, YouTube and Bud Light—all are event sponsors and have been for a while. The explosion of co-branding these events will only continue to expand with the growth and support of the gaming community.
Breaking the Stereotype
Gaming’s fastest growing consumer segment might surprise you. Boomers are quickly growing the gaming world in their own way, with technological adoption having grown in recent years. Two-thirds of boomers play mobile games, 29% of boomers have spent money on games in the past 6 months, and 67% of Americans over 50 play games to stay “mentally sharp.”
Gaming is also becoming a critical touchpoint for social infrastructure. Online lobbies are introducing players from across the world to one another in an era where friendships are on the decline. For boomers specifically, it’s a nice social connection point, even preferred over chat apps.
Why It Matters
Despite its rapid growth, the gaming industry holds an untapped potential for brand partnership and experience. Digital experience and e-commerce work perfectly when aligned. We expect gaming to continue to act as a vehicle to drive new consumer spending and brand loyalty.