Kiwi marketers can tap into new revenue streams in the world of social sports gaming, played out at events and internet cafes and watched via online TV, a Wellington researcher says.
Victoria University's Dr Yuri Seo says the eSports world is a far as you can get from hibernating at home playing games. And it means new ways for brands to reach consumers through games.
"In the past there has been a lot of advertising and brand placement in computer games, like Coke and Nike having a presence in Second Life. It was limited to brand placement inside the game. With eSports consumer find the meaning of games in social environments as well."
Kiwi companies could follow the example of Korean Air, which hosted an eSports event in one of its hangars to try to better reach its younger audience.
"It's not just about playing games anymore, it's about socialising and interacting at physical events rather than just engaging in the virtual world."
He says US entertainment software company Blizzard Entertainment grew its annual revenue from $40 million in 1995 to $5 billion in 2012, and believes that's partly because of its relationships with eSports governing bodies, broadcasting stations and consumer communities.
Esports tournaments are usually broadcast using IPTV channels fans can sign up to, and Blizzard would also host gaming events for game buyers to attend. That then generates sponsorship opportunities in the same vein as traditional sports events.
The phenomenon is emerging in New Zealand, says Yeo, with teams competing in computer games contests at internet cafes in a bid to make it to offshore Cyber Games events, the computer gaming world's equivalent of the Olympics.