Value for brands in esports is realized in providing infrastructure

HP's Omen has seen a tremendous growth in awareness of its brand thanks to its partnership with Blizzard's Overwatch League. 2018-01-25 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment, courtesy of Taylor Strategy.
HP's Omen has seen a tremendous growth in awareness of its brand thanks to its partnership with Blizzard's Overwatch League. 2018-01-25 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment, courtesy of Taylor Strategy. /

As esports brands continue to grow worldwide, brands are getting a piece of that action by providing fans and leagues with the technological solutions to engage with and operate the action.

Some aspects of business never change, and one of those immutable facets is the constant competition to “build a better mouse trap.” In the esports industry, that often translates into providing hardware and software for fans, leagues and players to use in a variety of ways. For those companies successful in landing the right partnerships along those lines, the result is harnessing the power of esports to raise brand awareness by exponential amounts.

One such brand is HP’s “OMEn,” which has been one of the most important sponsors of the Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League. From providing displays and PCs to collaborating on original content, OMEN has used the popularity of the new esports league to build its brand.

“When we think about it from a business perspective it’s still too early to attribute any business growth to the Overwatch League,” said Josh Kocurek, Global Marketing Manager for Gaming and Esports at HP. “It takes a little longer to connect the dots. From an awareness standpoint of who OMEN is and what are here to do, the league has been super helpful on that. The viewership numbers we are seeing from all around the world have already exceeded our expectations.”

Not only has the partnership with the Overwatch League helped get HP’s brand in front of potential consumers, but helped HP reach consumers who are most likely to buy their products.

“The information we received from the OWL has been hitting on all the demographics we want,” Kocurek continued. “We are interested in everyone who has an interest in competitive gaming. It’s encouraging when the data comes back from who’s watching that it lines up with that.”

HP isn’t the only company with such designs, and the Overwatch League isn’t the only platform providing those opportunities. Minkoket has developed solutions to assist gamers in two key areas: capturing gameplay and then optimizing playback of that content regardless of preferred platform. With its patented technology which allows users to record and replay gameplay in a 3D environment, the bar has been raised for the content in terms of the quality of gaming feeds.

“Gaming is a burgeoning segment of entertainment as evidenced not only by the millions who play daily, but also by the additional 665 million people who regularly watch live streams of gameplay,” said Gilbert Kim, President and COO of Minkonet. “We believe GVC’s (gaming video content) popularity is due, in large part, to the fact that consumers are in charge of the creative process. The sheer volume of frag movies on YouTube will confirm that. Our goal is to continue supplying gamers with tools to capture and share epic gaming experiences, while at the same time providing an avenue for creators to gain a foothold in this massive, thriving market.”

Whether or not the increased awareness for brands like HP and Minkonet that sponsoring and providing solutions for esports ventures has translated to new sales in massive numbers is something that companies are still waiting to make a call on. Confidence that such a return on investment is inevitable is high, however.

“As esports continues to grow and the audience broadens we’re definitely planning to be on the forefront of that expansion,” Kocurek added. “We want to make sure that we continue to listen to the gaming community and when we see opportunities to make it better, we’re going to make it better.”

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As companies strive to be the parties responsible for more improvements in the esports industry because of the reach that those opportunities provide, the gaming community is the benefactor. If the reach translates into sales, those companies will benefit just as much.