The Rise of eSports in New Zealand

It was thirty years ago when I got into my first computer game, but it wasn’t until I picked up a Play Station controller 10 years later that I began to understand the potential of video games.

WipeOut was the first game to use in-game advertising. Redbull was embedded into the game while The Prodigy provided the soundtrack.

eSports is an organised multi-player, online gaming competition and countries including the US, Russia, South Korea, China and Taiwan have all recognised eSports as an official sport.

eSports has two distinct audiences:

  • The people who play the games

  • The people who watch the people playing the games

Even though I’ve been playing video games for 30 years, I’m a total noob when it comes to understanding the appeal of being a player or a spectator.

That being said, I can understand why many brands are scrambling to be part of the action. The business of eSports is well established in every continent and with a 12-month schedule of tournaments, sold-out stadiums and prize money in the millions, it sure is getting some attention.

How big is eSports?
Here are some tasty stats for you:

  • 2015 global eSports revenues hit $740 million

  • Revenues are estimated to hit $1 billion by 2018

  • Sponsorships and advertising generate $578.6 million (78%) of revenues

  • Twitch (the online streaming website bought by Amazon for $970 million in 2014) reported that concurrent viewers peaked in 2015 at 840,000, up from 400,000 the year before

  • Yahoo and ESPN have dedicated eSports channels

  • 40% of all eSports viewers do not play the games themselves

  • So not only are people spending oodles of cash within the industry, millions are also watching other people play professional video games online.

What does this mean for your brand? If you want to take advantage of the new opportunities that eSports offers, we’d urge you to get some skin in the game… and fast.

In a recent study by PWC The Burgeoning Evolution of eSports the eSports consumer looks something like this:

esports consumer vs non-esports consumer

The case for brands being involved in eSports is simple and compelling. Millennials are increasingly difficult to engage through mainstream channels, because:

  • Delivering content that they love is expensive and hit and miss

  • It's increasingly difficult to connect authentically with them

  • The way in which they consume entertainment, makes it tough to connect with them online in any one place.

Introducing Let's Play Live
Over the past month we’ve been working on creating the brand for NZ’s first professional eSports brand.

let's play live animation

Let’s Play Live is now live and the first competition is League of Legends and will be broadcast live on Sky’s Pop-Up channel every Wednesday for five weeks. And on Saturday and Sunday the competition will be streamed live to the Let’s Play Live website,

In the next blog post, I take a look at the size of the gaming industry in New Zealand and how global brands are staking their claim in the world of eSports.

As well as that I'll introduce you to two of New Zealand's most influential eSports personalities - Loriipops and Arkadian.

Lorripops and Arkadian

If you’d like to know more about how your brand can be involved in this exciting new world, get in touch [email protected].

In the meantime here's a short intro video to eSports to get the pulse racing!

About the author
Kaleb Francis is a Digital Strategist and has developed a reputation as a thought leader. Kaleb studies global developments to identify trends and to assess how these can be applied to communicate brand experiences.