What have you/your clients been doing to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic?
My clients have been adjusting to COVID-19 by continuing to ideate and move forward with current strategies that are tweaked to have a more digital focus. Traditionally, esports and gaming have an online presence but more recently they have shifted to a more event focused league system. For some clients, we have been creating make-good proposals on those live event activations and working with partners just like any other sports league as everyone tries to evaluate the impact of COVID-19. For other clients, we have increased our digital footprint – from creating more owned content, working with influencers, and creating more opportunities for players online.
Have you learned anything new about the gaming industry as a result of the pandemic?
I don’t know about learning anything new, but I have been reminded about the agility and flexibility of the industry. The esports and gaming industry has been able to pivot quickly to support their communities. Numerous organizations have created major charitable events as well as continuing their strategic business objectives. Although things are constantly changing, gamers have been able to thrive and take comfort in this time of uncertainty.
What’s one piece of advice you give to prospective clients looking to invest in gaming and esports?
I have two pieces of advice that I would offer and typically offer to all current and new clients – 1) Before entering the space, make sure you have clear objectives and goals. Seems like a no-brainer but we see numerous clients trying to enter the space because ‘everyone is doing it’ or ‘esports viewership are engaging a larger audience than other sports’ but clients need to nail down what type of goal esports will serve them in the long run. 2) I highly recommend a 360 approach to esports. There are multiple entry points and different types of audiences across gaming leagues, titles, and genres so it is important to look holistically at entry points and align with what will serve your goals best. For example, one team deal or content segment most likely will not integrate you into the space and reach your KPIs but if you diversify your entry points or look robustly at one entry point you will find an easier path to success.
Streaming numbers have risen to all-time highs on all platforms during the pandemic. Do you think this trend will continue as some economies begin to reopen?
This is an ongoing conversation within the industry and a hot topic at the moment. In my opinion, I do think streaming will continue to rise in the long term but we may see a dip in the spikes that we have seen since COVID. Streaming has been an outlet during the lockdown but it has also proven a valuable strategy for programs beyond esports. This new type of digital content whether it be streaming, live content or recorded will become a major part of strategies for non-endemic brands, leagues, and celebrities to connect with their community.
What do you think the gaming and esports world will look like post COVID-19?
Gaming and esports will continue to grow and thrive post COVID-19. Unfortunately, it is hard to assess ‘post COVID-19’ as it will look very different for people across the globe. Over the next 12 months, more than likely, esport leagues will continue online and slowly start to open back up for live events.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do once the lockdown is over?
Right now, everywhere in the US is experiencing different phases of going back to normal. Here in Chicago, I cannot wait to enjoy summertime Chi running the lakefront trail and strolling along the RiverWalk.