Ahead of Esports Insider’s latest industry conference, ESI Singapore (20-21st June), we delve into the context behind an upcoming panel on esports events.
Image credit: Riot Games via Twitter (@LCSOfficial)
From scrappy online leagues with casters heard, but never seen, to stadiums staffed to the brim operating true sporting spectacles, the delivery of esports has changed significantly over the last 20 years.
During the pandemic, esports events went back to their roots by going online only, with esports at one point one of the only major sporting activities still running during a period of traditional sporting cancellations. Whilst it wasn’t perfect, these online events brought in vast, new audiences, most of whom were looking for any form of entertainment during lockdowns.
This was an unexpected golden opportunity for esports to grow as an industry with itself firmly and unexpectedly on the main stage, dominating mainstream discussion and delivering entertainment to untapped masses. However, when normality returned, it was equally critical that esports events returned to LAN as soon as possible.
Whilst esports is digital in nature, the scene truly thrives when it delivers offline events that pit the best teams in the world against each other on the same stage. As a result, almost every viable esports title hosts international events that are hosted in unique venues and major destinations.
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Perhaps the biggest tightrope balancing act that most event organisers have to face is ensuring a high-quality competition, whilst also generating revenue opportunities that don’t take away from the spectacle. Sponsors are integral to the success of esports events; on the surface they provide a financial lifeline that keeps the event ticking. However, it is important that these partners not only help support the events financially but provide greater fan experiences through activations.
As esports becomes more and more of a mainstream spectacle, unique revenue opportunities are popping up. Locations vie to bring specific esports events to their country/city, similar to that of major sporting events, in order to reap the economic knock-on effect — and are willing to pay for the pleasure. Last year, the Swedish city of Malmö reported that the 2022 LEC Summer Finals generated over £4.03m for the city. Most of that was in revenue from tourism. As such, organisers can negotiate for financial support, among other things, in return for hosting its events in particular destinations.
On-site merchandise sales are also an important factor to discuss when running events. If there is a large crowd expected then having booths from event organisers, and even the teams competing, provides some welcome income at little cost.
It is important to note that while revenue is important for running esports events, in some titles, for some operators it isn’t necessarily the main priority. It’s widely believed and accepted that some game publishers look to use these international events as supercharged marketing tools in order to maintain fandom and interest in the game (and in turn in-game spend), however, that doesn’t mean organisers shouldn’t still attempt to get the most out of these costly spectacles.
APAC esports events also have a whole different set of circumstances with mobile esports being a dominant force in the region. These events, while they may have similar competitive structures, endure their own challenges due to the technology and devices in play.
Some of the best industry stakeholders will be discussing the current opportunities, challenges and trends facing esports events in the APAC region at ESI Singapore on June 20th-21st.
‘Esports Events Augmented’ is a panel featuring executives from some of the industry’s biggest companies. All of which will raise questions such as: How can organisers leverage trends and tools to engage with wider audiences? What are some realistic revenue streams for esports events? and how can companies sustainably run esports events in Asia?
VSPO is a major player in the Chinese esports ecosystem, running various leagues and events such as the King Pro League, Honor of King’s franchised league. The company also received a hefty $265m investment from Savvy Games Group. Nielsen is a well-respected information, data and market measurement firm that has brought its expertise into the esports sector. Meanwhile, Next Level Entertainment is an agency that looks to elevate the Cambodian gaming scene whilst news website RevivaLTV will offer its SEA esports insights in Indonesia.
It truly is a fascinating time for development in the esports events space, particularly with new technologies being created to further enhance spectator experiences. If these questions interest you, there’s still time to buy tickets to ESI Singapore.
Tom has been part of Esports Insider’s team since October 2020 and is currently the platform’s Editor. When not playing Football Manager, he enjoys reporting on the mobile esports scene as well as the betting sector.