Dota 2 will have a $1.6 million championship this year. The Overwatch League will have its inaugural championship with the winning team taking home over $3.5 million. Call of Duty, Smite, CSGO, and many more games will have tournaments with millions on the line and almost no one knows about them. Certainly, in the past few years the support and interest in these games have grown astronomically due to increasing popularity of streamers on Twitch and YouTube, but there is still a long way to go.
eSports is a different monster to market because currently it is only streamed online. A campaign to put last year’s CSGO tournament on ESPN was unsuccessful because they were reaching for the wrong demographic. eSports started online and that’s where the growth and marketing need to be.
I want to examine one game in particular that has taken the internet by storm over the past year and is still on the rise. Overwatch is a team based game that revolves around capturing certain objectives and pushing a cart to the end of the map. Six people per team take turns attacking and defending. As of October 2017, Overwatch has over 35 million players worldwide. The popularity of this game has only increased with frequent updates and character additions to keep it from growing stale, but the biggest thing was the addition of the Overwatch World League, a new competitive tournament introduced by Blizzard, Overwatch’s creator, this January.
Overwatch had competitive tournaments before but they were erratic, hard to organize, and had varying payouts. The Worl League is different and it is very exciting because it has the potential to revolutionize the entire eSports scene. There are currently 12 teams in the OWL, with teams having their own city, much like the NFL. The top 6 teams make playoffs to compete for the grand prize. If you’re not into eSports it might sound kind of silly, but the money put into this is nothing to scoff at. Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots and Jeff Wilpoon, COO of the Mets, both own teams in the League as well as people like Magic Johnson, and the Texans owner Robert McNair having stakes in teams close to their home states as well. They see the money that can be made from this and are jumping on it before anyone else even knows its there.
Looking at these different cities around the US that are fielding Overwatch teams, the marketing strategy for each team is very different and that’s what I want to examine going forward. Each team has to market to their own city, based on their players, some of whom are not even American and make sure they are successful in the league all at the same time. The way they handle it should be very exciting and I can’t wait to get more in-depth about it next post.