Not your Grandma’s eSports

Catching up with Enthusiast Gaming

As eSports has gone from quietly gaining momentum to crossing the threshold into mainstream in Canada and the Globe, we felt it was time to catch up with an expert in this space. Robert Rames, Account Director, Enthusiast Gaming, spoke with IAB Canada to help give our community a sense of what is happening behind the scenes and maybe a glimpse into the future of eSports from the perspective of a stakeholder on the scene.

IAB Canada: What factors do you contribute to the growing popularity of eSports? Is it all COVID or has this transition to mainstream been a long time coming?

Robert Rames: To be fair, eSports has had a meteoric rise in viewership over the past five years and the pandemic may have accelerated the growth, but it’s not by any means the only reason for it. Today, our eSport organization Luminosity Gaming has over 60 million fans across social platforms and that didn’t happen in 6 months. Gaming communities have been growing steadily for over 30 years, but if you had to attribute the mainstream adoption to one thing, it just might be the cultural phenomenon that is Fortnite. Today, Fortnite has over 250M players (MAUs); for context, Netflix has 169M monthly subscribers. Much like going to the hockey game, mall, or movie theatre in previous generations, Gen Z uses eSports and gaming as a point connection, camaraderie and companionship.

IABC: What does the typical eSports fan look like? Are they all teenagers or has the audience matured as the generations who grew up with video games get older?

RR: There is a male skew in eSports overall, but some games/leagues have a more balanced audience. Just like sports fans are different, so are eSports fans. While there may be roughly 30% cross-over viewership in some genres, OWL is going to be a different demo than COD (older skew), or LoL and WoW. Believe it or not, competitive online chess is now a hot, “new” eSport. Want to blow your stereotypes out of the water? Watch this: Gamer Grandma

IABC: Some big brands have begun aligning themselves with eSports through team and tournament sponsorships, what do you think is drawing them in? Are there any brands you can think of who are doing exceptionally well in the space? Any unexpected brands becoming involved?

RR: Forward looking brands are paying attention to the profound spending power and household influence of gamers. The gaming industry is now at the forefront of culture and Gen Z (1997-2012) roughly makes up 25% of the total US population and has over $150B in spending power. There are a number of non-endemic brands that have done a great job connecting with gamers. Off the top, I’d say Adidas, Gillette, Yum! Brands, Hershey’s and G-Fuel have made strong inroads with the competitive gaming scene.

IABC: Do you have any tips for advertisers who are looking to become involved in eSports? Where should they start?

RR: Don’t presume the gamer stereotype or that gamers are one segment. Make a long term commitment and don’t try to force it, gamers have a strong BS detector. Last but not least, be playful, take risks, and have fun!

IABC: We’d like to thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and look forward to watching the future of eSports evolve.

If you are interested in learning more about the eSports Audience in Canada join us for our Community Uninterrupted webinar with Vividata on Friday, August 14th at 1PM EST. Register here