Esports is expanding into new areas from startups, content, and brands, to diversity initiatives, said speakers at our Digital LA – Esports Expands panel at Phase Two coworking space in Culver City.
Speakers described top trends they’re seeing in our first highlights panel video focusing on broad industry, teams, and startups; and our second panel focusing on players and studiums.
SPONSORS / BRANDS
1. Sponsors and Brands. Esports is attracting sponsors and brands beyond typical endemic brands like fast-food, candy, and computer accessories. Car companies, clothing companies like Nike, and even State Farm Insurance are starting to sponsor, thanks to in-depth data analytics showing purchasing power of the growing esports audience. Sponsors are also becoming more interested in amateur leagues like Super League Gaming, which reach broad engaged audiences.
PLAYERS / ATHLETES
2. Players Become Athletes. Esports players are learning to become better Esports team athletes. This includes learning to play well and support others on a team, as well as learning to do physical exercise and even yoga since they are sitting for many hours a day, said Evan Burk, Leadership Coach with the Overwatch League’s Los Angeles Gladiators.
3. Players Become Content Creators: Esports players and athletes are creating content based on their lives, and developing their brands. Fans are interested in their daily lives, training for tournaments, behind-the-scenes, and more, similar to fan interest in music bands and artists. When making content, make sure it doesn’t depend on whether the team wins a competition, advised Alex Rubens of YouTube Gaming. Diversify your content to focus on different stories. Don’t just imitate other creators.
4. Players Become Brands. Esports players are learning to leverage their 2-3 years of prime gameplay to build their personal brands, develop their social media, and start to get personal sponsorship and brand deals, said Sabrina Wong, Team Manager at 100 Thieves.
5. Players Become Franchises. As part of this brand development, some esports players are able to expand beyond esports into music, merchandising, fashion (shoes, developing their own clothing line). When looking to represent sports players, their interests and skills in other synergistic entertainment areas is key, said Abrams Artists Agency agent Amber Howard.
6. Players Become More Diverse. Esports teams and players are becoming more diverse, with more women teams and players, and more people of color, said Sabrina Wong. She said that games like Overwatch, which feature colorful diverse characters in team based game play, have helped draw new audiences into esports.
7. Startups are entering the esports space to provide services and fill needs in the industry. Two startups on our panel, Mobalytics and Fan Controlled Football League, are two of seven LA startups that will be participating at SXSW Pitch in Austin In March. They’ve been able to raise money from VCs and investors.
– Mobalytics was founded by avid game players, who realized there should be a tool to analyze their game performance, so they built it. Mobalytics uses detailed real time analysis of players’ in-game League of Legends performance to give recommendations in eight different areas: Survivability, Objectives, Versatilely, Fighting, Aggression, Farming, Teamplay, Toughness, and Vision, said Erik Reynolds, head of marketing at Mobalytics.
– Fan Controlled Football League is the first ever fan-controlled professional sports league, where fans act as part-coach, part-GM, and part-owner. Fans have the power to design their team brands, hire coaches, draft rosters, and even call plays while streaming the games live in a digital-first broadcast on Twitch. They’ve fundraised via private investors, said FCFL co-founder Patrick Dees.
8. International. Esports teams and players are becoming international brands. Mythos Gaming, based in the UK, is looking to recurit colorful personalities in the Los Angeles area to help build its team roster and brand, said Chris Oestman, Mythos Gaming marketing.
9. Mobile. More mobile game and sports consumption, said Gordon Bellamy of Esports Games. “They enjoy watching content on YouTube or Twitch on their mobile device. That’s the biggest trend I’m seeing.”
10. Stadiums. More are being built with particular needs for esports, both physically and technically, said Marc Scarpa of Simplynew, which just worked to build out the largest esports arena, currently in Arlington, Texas. Esports stadiums need to have equipped stages, audience seating area, shoutcaster stages, green rooms, control rooms, VIP rooms, etc. They also need to be fan friendly with food / restaurants, store, and more.
11. Other Celebrities Getting into Esports, like DJ Marshmallo integrated into Fortnite, or Weezer band releasing four songs only in the Fortnite game.
12. Interactive Videos where you can click to find more stats about your fave player while you’re watching will increase, said Patrick Dees of FCFL.
Thanks attendees for great questions!
Thanks to Phase Two for hosting us in your coworking space in Culver City.
Thanks to our speakers!
– Alex Rubens, YouTube Gaming, Esports Strategic Partner Manager, Content Partnerships. Help esports teams, players, and creators thrive on YouTube. Formerly at Riot Games.
– Patrick Dees, Fan Controlled Football League, Co-Founder and Chief Gaming Officer. FCFL is the first ever fan-controlled professional sports league, where fans act as part-coach, part-GM, and part-owner. Fans have the power to design their team brands, hire coaches, draft rosters, and even call plays while streaming the games live in a digital-first broadcast on Twitch. FCFL is one of the seven LA companies participating in SXSW pitch in March.
– Erik Reynolds, Mobalytics. Head of Marketing. Mobalytics helps esports players achieve their full potential via algorithms that optimize performance. Mobalytics intelligent algorithms and expert staff assess and improve esports players performance, thereby elevating the level of competition on the playing field. Mobalytics is one of the seven LA companies participating in SXSW pitch in March.
– Lily Lewis, Super League Gaming, Product Marketing. League of Legends, Fortnite, Minecraft, Clash Royale. Lily manages campaign and partner management, paid media, product communications strategy, eventplanning, influencer integrations, asset creation, merch ideation and execution, emailmarketing, editorial content and copywriting.
– Gordon Bellamy, USC Visiting Scholar in Games specializing in Esports. Gordon is an esports industry expert, speaking on many industry confnerces. His games experience includes: Tencent – Business Development and Industry Relations, Board Chair at International Game Developers Association, MTV Networks, Strategy and Business Development. Executive Director, Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and Director of Business Development, North America, THQ.
– Chris Oestman, Mythos Gaming, Marketing Manager. Chris manages marketing for Mythos Gaming, a leading UK based esports company interested in expanding in the U.S.
– Sabrina Wong, Team Manager at 100 Thieves, Previously Immortals and Blizzard Entertainment.
– Amber Howard, Abrams Artists Agency, Agent, Alternative Programming, Licensing and Digital Media. Amber has experience managing and booking celebrity talent, professional athletes, host broadcast talent, and increasingly esports athletes, at various levels, and has managed the talent operations of both studio and remote live events.
– Marc Scarpa, Simplynew, Founder. Marc is an executive producer and director specializing in live participatory media. Marc produces high-endbroadband programming for live events as well as provide solutions for multi-platform digital and social syndication. He recently developed and launced the new esports stadium in Arlington, equipping it with livestreaming and Internet capabilities.
– Evan Burk, Performance Coach. Leadership Coach with the Overwatch League’s Los Angeles Gladiators. Evan was previously a NFL and college football coach with the Miami Dolphins, UCLA, and SMU.
– Moderator: Kevin Winston, Digital LA, CEO Founder. Kevin previously