As we all know, the world of Esports and Esports sponsorship is growing at an exponential rate. Many well known brands are grabbing up all the sponsorship space available. One of which is Paysafe and their Paysafecard product.
Paysafe is a company that is ahead of the curve in the Esports sponsorship world. It has also helped pioneer secure online payments. In an era of identity theft and account hacking, they’ve created payment methods that circumnavigate this.
They’ve been particularly visible in their Esports sponsorship of Counter Strike: Global Offensive. They see Esports sponsorship as a way forward to advertise to a receptive audience in a growing industry. Their sponsorship has been active and productive for over 3 years in the gaming scene and they only expect it to grow.
Esportsranks was fortunate enough to interview their head of marketing Martin Vettori. Martin holds a Masters in economies and law from Vienna University, and he joined paysafecard in 2010. He has headed up the B2C marketing since 2014. He’s responsible for all aspect of end user communication and takes the lead in paysafecard’s Esports engagement.
We hope you enjoy the insight this interview provides into Paysafes thoughts about the future of their company, and the future of Esports sponsorship.
How do you see your company’s mission statement intersecting with the Esports community?
The provision of safe and secure online payments is becoming increasingly important to the rapidly-evolving gaming industry. Players want to play and pay for services in an easy way. As a business that delivers secure online payment capabilities, we see this trend first hand in Europe and around the world.
It is clear to us that Esports, given its role in the world of gaming, is an important industry to collaborate with. There’s the whole extensive marketing mix we both benefit from. One focused on incredibly engaged audiences that we are both passionate about supporting. So one of the primary driving factors is simply to leverage our commitment to Esports. To build on our position as a prepaid payments leader, and to further strengthen and deepen our relationship with the gaming community.
There’s been an increase in big brand names sponsoring Esports teams and events. Why do you think this is happening now as opposed to 5 years ago?
The gaming industry is evolving rapidly and it’s great to be right at the centre of these changes. The media, other brands, and gaming industry are interested in collaborations because gaming is becoming such an important story. The professionalisation that has taken place over the last few years, is impressive and makes a sponsorship even more attractive.
As a supporter and sponsor, we see ourselves as part of that. With the growing popularity of Esports come more associations and organisations, which are principally intended to bring more structure to the sport. This should, in turn, inspire more brands to be part of the Esports scene.
Do you see other global brand names following your lead, and jumping on the Esports bandwagon in the next couple of years?
We cannot speak for others but there is a trend for big brands to get involved in Esports and we anticipate that this trend will continue. We believe that the ever growing internationalisation and the vastly growing numbers of Esports enthusiasts will make the Esports scene a very attractive partner for global brands.
Your company has connected more with Counter Strike Global Offensive than other gaming communities, why did you choose this particular game?
After a successful commitment to Esports sponsorships in 2015 and 2016, paysafecard continues its commitment in 2017 by sponsoring the best-of-the-best.
Counter Strike Global Offensive is one of the leading European Esports IPs. With our “ESL One Cologne” sponsorship we were able to use the world’s largest “CS:GO” event to really find and meet gamers in a place where they were at their most passionate.
Have you noticed any differences between how Europe, the U.S.A. and Asia view Esports? Has this affected your sponsorship strategy?
There are already events in the USA and Asia which are synonymous with other large sporting events. In the USA and Asia, pro-gamers are celebrated like pop stars and play to sold-out venues. For example, in South Korea, the scene has huge economic importance. There are competition stadiums dedicated purely to Esports, with three professional leagues, and TV shows around the clock.
However, so far we have mainly focused our Esports strategy to the European market, and therefore we are concentrating on IPs which are mostly played in Europe. These are games such as League of Legends or CS:GO. The professionalisation of the European Esports scene is also impressive, particularly that which has taken place over the last few years.
This has gone hand-in-hand with the rapid growth in interest from the public. Esports events already have the kind of viewer numbers that classic sports events can sometimes only dream of.
Paysafecard sponsors ESL (Electronic Sports League) because it is one of the industry leaders. It organises a substantial number of both online and offline tournaments and events. The breadth and variety of their tournaments and classes were particularly attractive given they take place on a global level. That really sits well with our global approach.
Do you see the Esports community growing in the future?
Esports is big! The Esports industry is now part of everyday life for many people and, given everyone’s appetite to be connected by mobile devices, its growth is likely to continue. The global potential is enormous. Anyone who has been to one of the big events, such as in Katowice or an ESL One, realises that a totally new form of sport is emerging. Having been part of these developments from such an early stage makes us very proud.
The professionalization and the internationalisation of Esports is something which will continue as the world further digitalises. We are very curious to see how the Esports community will continue to develop, and we are excited to be part of it.
What does the Esports community/audience give you that other audiences do not?
While paysafecard is a global payments business operating in many industry verticals, gaming is part of our heritage. paysafecard offers an easy, secure and fast payment method, without the need to provide credit card or bank account details. Our engagement with Esports has a distinct advantage: It takes place predominantly in a digital format, so it puts us in a position where we can directly enter into a dialogue with potential customers.
We’ve been serving that industry for years and want to give something back to the gaming community. We do this through our Esports involvement, and take the needs of the gamers to heart. We are also aware of our responsibility as a payment service provider. Accordingly, we want to build up trust in our product on the outside, just as much as we work to back up our promises about product security on the inside.
Of course, we also use the enormous potential of the Esports scene to target our product effectively. As paysafecard is already seen as a very prominent brand in Esports, we find that a very satisfactory place to start from. Nevertheless, we are also very careful with which activities we involve ourselves in.
On the one hand, the Esports community is very enthusiastic and loyal. On the other hand, they are also very demanding – and rightly so.
What’s Next For Esports?
paysafecard is just one of several larger companies now stepping into the Esports limelight. Esports is still seen by many as a niche market. Sponsors should consider the viewing figures for the 2016 League of Legends World Championship. There were 43 million unique viewers. By contrast, the NBA World Finals had 31 million.
The Esports current market is strong and its future looks even stronger. We can thank companies like paysafecard for making the leap and leading the way so others can follow.
Don’t be surprised if Esports moves even more to the forefront of an ever increasing digitally aware audience. With that many people watching, brands would be fools to miss out.
Creating Esports Sponsorships
Major networks such as the BBC are now also getting on board with broadcasting Esports. ESPN already made that move, and by 2020 some people believe as many as 600 million people may watch Esports globally.
As has been previously reported, Esportsranks and Sports Media Gaming have partnered to produce their own Esports agency. The aim is to aid companies in their pursuit of Esports sponsorship and connect sponsors, athletes, teams, ambassadors, and event organizers.
Any company looking to increase their global exposure, or teams/athletes looking for the right partner, can contact us for more info.