i3 - May/June 2016 - 23

TO THE MOST AVID GAMERS IN THE WORLD.
According to George Woo, marketing manager of
brand partnerships and sponsorships at Intel Corp.,
IEM provides a global platform that helps Intel reach
out to millions of gamers authentically because of their
passion for eSports, unlike other marketing vehicles
such as TV commercials.
"IEM also helps us connect with gamers emotionally
through the amazing experiences we deliver through
events such as the IEM World Championship," Woo says.

4K PLAY
One area that's yet to be fully explored by consumer technology
companies is the need for gamers to play games on HDTVs, or
even 4K TVs. Aside from BenQ's Zowie brand, which has sponsored eSports events across ESL, EVO, MLG, and DreamHack
by having its monitors used in competition, there hasn't been a
lot of activity from traditional brands.
C TA . t e c h / i 3

Former Counter-Strike pro gamer Ronald "Rambo" Kim,
product marketing communications coordinator for eSports
at BenQ, says eSports has been phenomenal for the company's
monitor sales.
Monitors and TVs are required to play any eSports PC
or console game, so there's built-in visibility at live events,
which are also watched by millions of fans. Connecting with
this avid audience can benefit companies that take the right
approach.
According to Newzoo CEO Peter Warman, 21 percent of all
eSports enthusiasts worldwide are also big investors in hardware, spending over $600 on hardware annually. That equates
to over $3 billion spent on hardware in the U.S. alone.
While livestreaming companies such as Hitbox are already
focused on 4K coverage of eSports, Adams says over the next
two years ESL will upgrade its event coverage to 4K. This shift
in content from HD to 4K will entice consumers to upgrade
their PC monitor or TV. And it opens up opportunities for
brands to market directly to this audience.

Coutesy: Patrick Strack, 1015 Best of IEM San Jose

GAMING FOR THE MAINSTREAM
By connecting with PC gamers early on, Intel has been able to
market directly to the most avid gamers in the world. But with
Microsoft handing out $2.5 million to the best Halo 5 gamers March 20 and Activision awarding over $3 million to Call
of Duty gamers this fall, eSports is expanding beyond the PC
gamer. This opens up an even broader audience for new sponsors and brands entering the eSports market.
PepsiCo's Brisk Iced Tea brand recently partnered with top
Call of Duty eSports team Optic Gaming to launch a new line
of Brisk Mate flavors. Gary So, senior director of marketing for
Brisk, says the company entered the eSports fray because its
consumers are passionate about professional gaming.
"Our consumers are spending 10 to 12 hours a day either gaming or watching professionals playing games," So says. "A decade
ago we'd have looked at skateboarding to target this audience,
but today Gen Z and Millennials are watching eSports."
Also helping new companies explore this massive eSports
audience, at least in the U.S., is mainstream coverage by sites
such as Fortune, ESPN, and Yahoo. More outlets are covering
eSports alongside traditional professional sports such as football, baseball, and basketball.
Nik Adams, senior vice president of sales and business development at ESL, says Yahoo has a very large sports audience,
and one of the key content strategy points for ESL's expansion
of its livestreaming was offering eSports content to exactly that
audience.
"We believe that our lighthouse products, such as IEM, ESL
One or the CS:GO Pro League are a perfect fit for this public,"
Adams says.
Both Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts have established
their own eSports divisions separate from their game development businesses. With the focus of these two companies on
console gaming, the rollout of these new initiatives in 2016 and
beyond will further grow the console eSports audience.

A VIRTUAL REALITY
With Samsung's Gear VR, Google's Cardboard, Facebook's Oculus Rift, and Valve and HTC's Vive already available to consumers, and Sony's PlayStation VR coming in October, there could
be a future for eSports in virtual reality.
JauntVR experimented with capturing IEM action Nov.
21-22 at SAP Centre in San Jose, CA, which was recorded
and delivered edited later. But looking ahead at the eSports
and virtual reality landscapes, a collision course could be in
the future.
"VR is a really great feature and offers a fantastic experience
if you want to see what is going on at our event from angles you
wouldn't normally even consider," Adams says. "The feeling of
being on stage or sitting in the audience is amazing. We've been
talking about VR backstage tours and taking it to other places
normally unreachable."
John Koller, vice president of marketing at Sony Interactive
Entertainment, believes the October PlayStation VR game,
RIGS, could work. The game features three vs. three futuristic battles in Mechs. Developer Guerrilla Games has actually
designed the game with eSports in mind, so that also adds to
the potential for ushering in virtual reality eSports.
MAY/JUNE 2016

23


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i3 - May/June 2016

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