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Beyond the console: What’s the deal with e-sports?

This post is sponsored by Media Prima Digital.

For those who grew up in a time when the internet had not made its mark on the world, sport meant having to physically be on an open field, a court or in a pool. However, in this day and age when individuals are so reliant on the internet, there is a different meaning to sports. Sports can now be played on electronic devices such as a PC or console with state-of-the-art accessories in the comfort of one’s own home. Thus, the term electronic sports, or more commonly known as e-sports.

E-sports has undoubtedly been thriving and has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In an annual report by Newzoo, the e-sports industry is predicted to hit US$950 million in revenue in 2018, which is a 38% increase from 2017. In fact, the industry is growing so rapidly it is projected to be a billion dollar industry by 2019.

The number of e-sports fans has also been increasing steadily from 143 million in 2017 to 165 million in 2018. By 2021, this number is estimated to reach 250 million worldwide. If the number of occasional viewers are added in, the numbers would represent growth from a total of 335 million in 2017 to 557 million in 2021.

This soon-to-be billion dollar industry has attracted many big brands to make an entrance into this market because of the wide reach of audiences they are able to tap into. What was once thought to be just a trend is now a force to be reckoned with.

To further reinforce this notion, Malaysia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports has recently been allocated RM10 million to further develop the local e-sports industry and Media Prima, as the largest integrated media company in Malaysia, has taken up the challenge to spearhead this initiative.

The inception of MyGameOn

One of the first steps Media Prima Digital took when entering this industry was to create a portal named MyGameOn (MGO) that focuses on gaming and e-sports while adding a local twist to it. This portal recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and has bridged gamers and built communities since its inception.

It has reached out to more than 200,000 monthly active users by providing the latest e-sports updates, live event coverage, reviews and sponsored content. MyGameOn has also organised e-sports tournaments and gaming events in line with the Youth & Sports Ministry’s goal to grow e-sports within Malaysia and has given out more than RM145,000 worth in prizes.

Collaborating with industry experts

As an organisation whose strength lies in the media, Media Prima Digital recognised the need to work with industry experts that could help in building a stronger presence in the gaming and e-sports industry. Thus, the decision to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Media Prima Digital and Kitamen Resources, a lifestyle brand for e-sports and a community hub with a group of young and vibrant individuals that aim to promote “healthy gaming” nationwide.

On top of having the right expertise and the passion for e-sports, Kitamen also organises e-sports tournaments and brings with them the best-in-class equipment to cater to the high-definition graphics in these games.

Last March, Media Prima Digital collaborated with Garena Malaysia at the League of Legends Championship Malaysia with the hope to make e-sports more accessible on multiple platforms for all Malaysians and to ensure that the talent in the gaming scene were able to showcase their passion in this promising industry.

In line with this goal, Media Prima Digital also took a huge step by signing a  MoU with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation to be an exclusive partner in championing local game development. This symbiotic partnership aims to promote and build the ecosystem of gamers in Malaysia.

Level Up KL is also another premier industry event for game developers in Southeast Asia to come together and share the latest gaming updates in the region. This year marks Media Prima Digital’s third year as the partner for Level Up KL and we have seen an influx of talent in the region in the past three years.

On ground participation

In line with the goal to bring e-sports to the masses, Media Prima Digital has participated in various local e-sports events through MGO to create awareness and introduce Malaysians to the potential of the gaming industry. Together with Kitamen, they have joined forces in several events: Gegaria, Moh Skor, Asia Comic Con and MyDigitalMaker to enable individuals to experience e-sports first hand.

Through these on-ground events, individuals ranging from children to adults are introduced to games such as League of Legends (LOL), FIFA Online 3, and VR games. The stereotype that games are only targeted at kids is slowly diminishing, and they should be viewed as an activity that can be enjoyed together as a family.

E-sports, a gold mine for advertisers

E-sports has allowed advertisers to be more creative in their brand placement approach. Through partnerships, branded content, strategic media buys and sponsoring the live-streaming of the e-sports events themselves, there are always interesting approaches for every brand to be part of this explosive growth.

One example of our recent collaboration is when they had the opportunity to work with Acer for their Moh Skor eSports tournament during Asia Comic Con 2018, one of the largest comic fans events in Asia. Visitors got to experience playing FIFA Online on one of Acer’s most impressive gaming laptops, Acer Predator. Not just that, audiences were also able to spectate and support their favourite players by watching them live on Acer’s monitor and screen.

During the award-winning Gegaria festival, Media Prima Digital also worked closely with one of Malaysia’s leading e-wallet services, Boost, to reward Boost credits to winners of the e-sports tournaments. Instead of just putting up standard banners on the website, e-sports and the gaming industry have allowed brands to be more creative in their marketing approach. Branded content in e-sports is still relatively new, but through YouTube channels and Facebook pages, specific content can be created to ensure the advertiser’s brand placement is visible and appeals to the brand’s desired target audience.

For the first time in Malaysia, Media Prima Digital and Celcom Axiata will be organising the XPAX Kejohanan E-Sukan Kampus (KEK) 2019, Malaysia’s first e-sports championship that will showcase local talent from top higher learning institutes’ e-sports teams, who will compete for a cash prize pool of RM 180,000. This is an example of a synergy collaboration between a brand and our in-house gaming portal MyGameOn, together with our partner Kitamen, to accelerate the e-sports and gaming industry in Southeast Asia.

What’s next?

With the recent coverage and emphasis on e-sports, there is no doubt that e-sports will surpass traditional sports events in terms of viewership and revenue as the community has been growing rapidly, not just in Malaysia, but around the world. The advancement of technology has also given developers a whole new challenge to continuously work on new content and games that will keep players engaged.