Durex eSports Marketing

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Durex eSports Marketing

Young men see gaming as part of their identity. The new perception of what masculinity entails and what it means to be a real man allowed them to break old stereotypes and to fully embrace games as a social platform and a way to strengthen friendships and build a community. They welcome advertisers because they want esports and the streamers they identify with to grow, as long as brands respect and understand their passion for games and the culture that guides it.

Young Men and eSports

  • Sixty-eight percent of Gen Z males say that gaming is part of their identity. It is undeniable the reach and influence esports and games have on young men in the US.
  • Gaming is such an integral part of Gen Z and millennial men lives that it is now perceived as a good thing. The old stereotype of the lonely man living in his mother’s basement is in the past; the new gamer is cool and popular.
  • The changing paradigm is a result of younger generations having no reservations about labeling themselves as gamers. They are more likely to associate gaming with words like fun and friendly than nerdy. A survey conducted by Ypulse discovered that 84% of them think that it is cool to play video games.
  • It is not surprising, as most Gen Z and millennial males say they are gamers (over 70%). McKinsey estimates that 38% of US men under 25 are esports fans, making it the third-most-popular spectator sport for young men.
  • The way they see gaming could be related to a much more profound belief: the concept of masculinity in itself. Younger generations, particularly Gen Z, perceive masculinity in a more sophisticated and nuanced way. The tough guy, the 90s action movie hero, is no longer their idea of masculinity.
  • A recent survey discovered that they believe that it is more important for a “real man” to be smart than strong or tough. They are also frustrated with brands, with 61% saying it is hard to find messages in entertainment and advertising that reflect how they feel about being a man today.
  • As relevant as esports can be for those trying to appeal to young men, it is a complicated, nuanced, and hard to navigate scene. The first challenge brands must navigate is the severe lack of reliable metrics and proper market segmentation, as reported by McKinsey.
  • Even research giants, such as Nielsen, tend to address the group as one, boxing together both millennials and Gen Z. The good news is that esports companies are aware of the difficulty and are partnering with credible organizations in an attempt to provide further clarity to brands.

Participation

  • Fifty-six percent of U.S. Gen Z men say that esports are more relevant to their generation than traditional sports. Gen Z males are attracted to esports due to a desire for competitive platforms that also offer relevant and fresh game content. A strong sense of community is also vital for these young men.
  • More specifically, when watching eSports, they are seeking tips and tricks from professionals (44%), pure entertainment value (41%), to become better gamers (39%), social aspects (19%), and to participate in or see cosplay (9%).
  • When asked about the entertainment aspects of esports, fun was the number one reason why they watch it (79%), followed by being able to watch wherever they are (70%), a love for gaming (72%), the fact that it makes gaming a more social experience (67%), and being more engaging or entertainment than regular sports (58%).
  • They are influenced by things they see or experience while playing, and 63% of those between 13-36 learned or tried something new because of gaming.
  • The lines between different forms of content, from esports to live streaming, podcasts, and reviews, are blurring. They want content that combines and adapts the old formats. Mid-tier esports events have so far driven much of this innovation. Tournaments such as the Fortnite Summer Skirmish, for example, feature top streamers, pro players, and top-level amateurs competing against one another.
  • However, experts point out that esports should be treated the same way a brand would treat traditional sports, with the games representing the various traditional sports leagues. In other words, different games attract different viewers and one size definitively does not fit all.

Games and Teams

  • Although some games stand the test of time, such as World of Warcraft, the popularity of games tend to change rapidly, especially among young players/viewers. Data from Twitch makes the instability quite evident.
  • In the first quarter of 2019, the most popular games on Twitch were Fortnite, League of Legends, Apex, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, GTA V, Overwatch, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUGB), and World of Warcraft. However, in the second quarter of 2019, the list changed, and the most popular games were Fortnite, League of Legends, GTA V, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and PUGB.
  • Overall, shooters are the most popular esport among young men, with 22% playing it at least once a week versus 11% who play sport-based video games (16% play both). Those who play shooting games are also more likely to follow esports (35%) than those who play sports games (27%).
  • While Overwatch is considered one of the most gender-diverse esports, and Counter-Strike is known for attracting a slightly older audience (25-35), research suggests that League of Legends and Fortnite could be valid options to engage with young males.
  • Fortnite was the most popular game in the U.S. in 2019, and 62.7% of its players are males between 18 to 24 years old. Meanwhile, data from Nielsen shows that 82% of League of Legends fans in the U.S. are males, and 12% are in the 13-17 group, while 37% are in the 18-24 group, as of 2018. The young male audience is one of the reasons why Gillette chose this game to enter the esports sphere.
  • The most popular teams in the U.S. are Cloud 9, OpTic Gaming and Team Liquid.

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  • The gaming community as a whole is open to advertisers that support the games they love. Not only they embrace it, but they want brands to invest and pay attention to the gaming culture. Eighty-nine percent of mobile gamers and 78% of PC gamers agree that brands should pay more attention to gamer culture. Moreover, 61% of mobile gamers and 57% of console/PC gamers stated they do not mind seeing ads incorporated in video games.
  • The attitude translated to esports as well. Forty-three percent of esports players/viewers appreciate brands that reach out to them through the gaming world, and 42% say they usually appreciate the adds they see through their gaming channels.
  • Luke Cotton, director of consultancy at Code Red eSports explains that esports audience tends to be between 14 to 30 years old; however, while age is a significant factor, authenticity is far more significant, as these fans desire brands to be completely authentic.
  • He further stated that even though esports fans can be very unforgiving, they are also likely to embrace and love brands that support the teams, players and games they support. Multiple executives connected to the esports world echoed his sentiment.
  • It is interesting to note the different ways they perceive advertising according to the activity. For instance, while they may not like advertising during traditional sports events, 69% of Gen Z men say advertisers are a welcome part of the still "relatively blank canvas of non-traditional sports."
  • When a brand gets involved in non-traditional sports they are passionate about, it creates a connection with them, which helps brands nurture positive sentiments within the group. Nielsen's research discovered that only 10% of esports fans expressed negative feelings toward brand involvement with their favorite game/player/team.

Hardcore gamers versus Casual Gamers

  • Newzoo analyzed esports viewers and discovered that they are roughly equally distributed between esports enthusiasts (42%) and occasional viewers (58%).
  • Younger generations are more likely to be present in the esports enthusiasts group than on the occasional viewers, probably due to how much gaming is part of their culture and communities.
  • The average fan spends 3 hours and 5 minutes a week simply watching esports, a total that has declined slightly, and another 7 hours and 35 minutes playing the games.


Brands and eSports

  • The last few years saw non-endemic brands move into the esports sphere, hoping to attract younger audiences. Considering that there are 21 million esports fans in the United States, of whom 83% are male and 84% under the age of 35, esports can help brands reach a cohort that would be difficult to find somewhere else.
  • However, as McKinsey noted, the lack of metrics and market segmentation and the differences between the different groups within esports fans should be warning signs for any brand that is interested in entering the space.
  • The esports ecosystem comes with unique features that should be observed:
  • 1. “Playing is not watching”: It is estimated that 83% of US males aged 13 to 49 play video games, with 66% playing at least once a week. However, only 37% of those who play competitive video games also watch esports weekly. This could be one of the reasons why some brands chose to do in-game marketing instead of sponsoring events.
  • 2. There are numerous game titles: Currently, there are over 30 different game titles that have leagues and competitions. As previously noted, the landscape changes rapidly. Players rarely compete in more than one title, and therefore a sponsored athlete reaches only a segment of fans.
  • 3. The most popular streamers are not esports pros: Professional competitions constitute only 11% of esports viewing, and the majority of Twitch’s top channels are personal channels of video-game streamers.
  • 4. Fan loyalty is split: McKinsey survey discovered that fans are more likely to recognize streamers than professional players, which indicates they are more likely to follow their favorite player in their favorite game.
  • 5. No esports organization is globally dominant, but most have out-of-market fans: Local marketing can be a challenge for esports, especially in Europe and North America. At least 30% of esports viewers are from outside the team’s home country.
  • 6. Measurement is still imprecise: As noted, esports still have a long way to go to reach the same level of metrics traditional sports provide to marketers. Nevertheless, there is progress.
  • Although McKinsey's recommendations are comprehensive, some aspects deserve more consideration or were left out.

1. Brands need to be part of the conversation to ensure authentic integration

  • Gen Z expects their favorite brand to understand who they are as individuals, and for young males, esports can be a powerful tool for brands to deepen that connection. As Gen Z males continue to see gaming a part of their identity, to form an authentic connection, it is essential for brands to be present where the conversation is happening, and to understand the social aspects of this community.
  • As previously noted, most esports fans are open to brands in this space. Gen Z fans truly support the teams, players, and games they like, and they want to see them thrive. They also understand how vital the support of brands is.
  • Sarah Looss, head of sales for Americas at Twitch, explains that young fans want "those things to be powered by the advertisers because they understand that economy. They're there to support their favorite streamers (...) Whether it's bits or subscriptions, brands getting involved in those native pathways on the platform are great authentic ways in."
  • Josh Cella, head of global partnerships for Activision Blizzard Esports, adds to this point, saying, "I think the authenticity concept in esports and gaming has been, historically, a little overblown. Some brands have been really scared. We've seen nothing but unanimous positive sentiment from consumers when brands come in and support what they're passionate about. We've seen the fans just completely appreciate that brands like Coca-Cola and T-Mobile and others have come into support us."
  • The Coca Cola example refers to the brand's collaboration with the Overwatch League playoffs. Coca Cola bought several all-access passes from Twitch and gave them away on a Twitch stream, which received a great response from the community. By doing something as simple as distributing passes, Coca Cola became part of that celebratory moment and participated in the emotional aspect of esports.
  • Marvel is another example of a company trying to speak the same language as young gamers. Gen Z is known for loving in-game cosmetic items; therefore, to promote Endgame, Marvel offered Fortnite players Iron Man and Thanos skins so that they could emulate the characters during their gaming experience.
  • Not only that, but it also hosted an in-game crossover event where gamers could be on the Avenger's team or Thanos' side. Considering that Marvel also teamed up with Fortnite to promote Avengers: Infinity War, the marketing move was successful enough to try again.
  • Grace Dolan, vice president of home entertainment integrated marketing at Samsung Electronics America noted that when brands do it the right way, the gaming community is the most embracing audience. He further adds that brands must show fans they are willing to invest in the community.
  • There is still room for brands to establish a presence among these fans. Twitch has a panel of over 65,000 community members to gather insights about its audience, and, according to Looss, the Twitch community is still not necessarily connecting specific advertisers to the esports scenario yet.
  • These young and digital native consumers have an emotional connection to these games and take them seriously. Video games are one of their passions, and they want brands to respect and appreciate it. When they do, these consumers tend to be loyal.
  • Bryan de Zayas, global director of marketing at Dell, adds from his own experience saying that brands should not be dissuaded from getting a negative response initially from gamers, as they are incredibly passionate and vocal about their likes and dislikes. However, they also appreciate when brands listen to them. "Don't be afraid to ask. Don't be afraid to take chances. Listen and adapt and you'll be very much appreciated for it" he added.
  • These executives have a point. Research from Nielsen shows that brands that associate with esports and become sponsors to leagues increased not only brand awareness among fans, but also saw an impact on how strongly fans preferred the brands over their competitors.
  • Nielsen noted that the Overwatch League, for example, reached or exceeded norms for awareness and favorability, even nearing positive results seen from sports naming rights deals — the most high-profile, high-awareness types of sponsorship in that space.

2. The community embraces unusual partnerships

  • To become part of the conversation, brands can appeal to Gen Z through multiple channels, and not only by being present in the game itself. They can co-create streams, sponsor events, sponsor or partner with streamers and teams, or even provide services. Most importantly, the brand should discover how they fit into the gaming world.
  • For instance, Unicorns of Love, a European League of Legends team, signed with Billy Boy, a condom brand, for a jersey sponsorship. The team already had non-endemic sponsorship with Twentieth Century Fox to promote Deadpool and Wacken Open Air, a metal festival. The brand and the team promoted safe sex through their partnership.
  • Unicorns of Love CEO Jos Mallant stated that "This partnership is simply a perfect and authentic fit: We will benefit tremendously from BILLY BOY's market recognition whilst they will actively engage with their relevant target groups. And besides the marketing aspect we see it as our responsibility to address the sensitive and important topic around safer sex amongst our fans."
  • Bumble partnered with Gen.G in 2019 to create an all-female team to compete in Fortnite, while Louis Vuitton is sponsoring League of Legends to create a custom-built travel case for the championship trophy. Not only that, but the fashion house collaborated with developers to transform its designs into skins for the game.

3. Sponsorship and collaborations with gaming personalities are powerful tools to create brand affinity

  • Like traditional sports, esports have stars and influencers. However, unlike the NFL or NBA, esports stars interact daily with fans through live streams on Twitch or YouTube. Nielsen theorizes that the power of this type of engagement is the equivalent of LeBron James or Cristiano Ronaldo spending multiple hours discussing their performance, answering questions, and giving fans insights into their daily practices and thought processes.
  • Even though traditional social media platforms create a way for fans to interact with athletes, "there is nothing that rivals this type of 1:1 interaction in the traditional sports world." Sixty-three percent of American Twitch esports fans stated that they spend more time interacting with gaming personalities than watching regular esports content.
  • Some of the most influential personalities in the esports world are not even professional players. They are simply gamers who built a large community of online followers, and their reach is more considerable than teams and events.
  • Furthermore, these players are more willing than traditional athletes to promote sponsors on camera, including while playing the game, which taps into the fan’s emotional connection to the player and the game.
  • Fortnite players see streamers such as Ninja as being on the same level as mainstream celebrities, like Ariana Grande. Nearly 50% of players interviewed by a recent survey picked a streamer over mainstream celebrities as their favorite.
  • Some brands are already acknowledging the power streamers have to reach Gen Z consumers. Red Bull signed Ninja as an official endorser, while Gillette signed Dr. DisRespect. The influence of a given streamer will vary according to the game.
  • For example, during a recent promotion, UberEats offered discounts to Ninja’s fans for every kill he got in-game before his UberEats delivery order arrived. The promo, which was expected to last three days, was too successful — UberEats described maxed-out redemptions within just 24 hours.
  • Gamers see them as friendly and someone they would probably like in real life. They are perceived as accessible. Perhaps even more importantly, they are relatable, as they are not gorgeous, larger than life celebrities. They look like and communicate like gamers and their friends.

4. Twitch is still the number one platform, but competitors are growing

  • The complexity of esports fans and influencers creates a matrix that may be difficult for brands to navigate, and some opt to choose a platform to advertise across all genres, usually, Twitch or YouTube, targeting fans by demographic and location. However, McKinsey notes that while this method may be efficient, it will not match the quality of engagement players, teams, or even event sponsorship have.
  • Eighty-two percent of Twitch users are male, and 21 is their average age. Fifty-five percent are between 18-34, and out of the 45% remaining, most are younger than 18. The US accounts for more users than any other country (22%), and most of the activity occurs in English, and four pm EST is peak viewing time.
  • Interestingly, even though Gen Z is known for its mobile usage, many people prefer to view Twitch on a larger screen. For that reason, mobile viewers only account for 35% of Twitch views.
  • Twitch is by far the market leader for esports; however, competitors such as YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Microsoft’s Mixer are gaining ground among fans and streamers.
  • For example, Twitch lost the rights to major leagues such as Call of Duty and Overwatch. Both leagues will now be exclusively streamed on YouTube. Considering that Overwatch was the second-most-watched channel on Twitch, and Call of Duty’s tournaments draw millions of viewers, losing both games at once is a pretty heavy blow to the platform.
  • Influential streamers are moving to other platforms too. Ninja, CouRage, and Shroud, some of Twitch’s former top streamers, pursued other platforms, leaving Twitch behind.
  • YouTube, in particular, is the main threat, as its numbers are going up as Twitch’s viewership declines. There is also a matter of focus. If Twitch initially was mainly about gaming, it is becoming less gaming-focused than ever. The “Just Chatting” category was the most-watched category in December 2019. With more gamers turning to YouTube and more non-gamers turning to Twitch, the future of live-streaming appears to be the ability to do it all.
  • For Gen Z, popular games such as Fortnite and League of Legends are losing popularity on Twitch, which could indicate that viewers are migrating to other platforms.


Non-endemic Companies in the eSports Space

  • Non-endemic brands are the ones that not naturally aligned with esports, such as manufacturers of gaming computers, but that are inserting themselves in that world. The list of non-endemic brands in the sector is rapidly growing, including names like State Farm, Disney, Spotify, Toyota, MasterCard, Cheez-It, Hershey, Chipotle, Sephora, Wendy’s and Head & Shoulders.
  • PepsiCo’s Doritos, for instance, sponsored a “Doritos Bowl” hosted by Twitch for a Call of Duty battle royale tournament between top streamers. Fans watched nearly 550,000 combined hours of that tournament, Nielsen said.

Case Study#1: PUMA and Cloud 9

  • In January 2019, apparel and sports brand PUMA announced it was sponsoring Cloud 9, a famous esports team. It is the brand's most significant esports endeavor to date. The partnership presents fans with more access to Cloud9 apparel, with a Cloud9 collection launched in the US.
  • In 2018, Forbes set a $310 million evaluation on Cloud9, making it the most valuable esports organization in the world. Since then, esports has moved swiftly with many funding rounds changing valuations, but Cloud9 is unquestionably one of the top organizations in the game.
  • The collaboration resulted in the #DareYou campaign, which tells the true stories of the players featured in the ad, showing what was expected of them and how they defied those expectations to pursue the life they wanted. The ad appeals to the idea that taking risks is worthy and can come with great rewards.
  • Matt Shaw, PUMA's head of digital marketing, explains that the brand has witnessed the nature of sports and sports culture change over the last decade, and it has become apparent that esports has a valuable role to play in how the next generation shapes sports culture.
  • He further adds that as a non-endemic brand, it needs help to establish credibility and showcase commitment. "Those aren't things we felt we could do easily without first establishing a credible, high-profile partnership. Cloud9 was the perfect choice for us in that regard."
  • As a result of the partnership, Cloud9 fans are 22% more likely than general esports fans to say sportswear and apparel brands are a good fit for esports sponsorship.
  • Using social listening tools, Nielsen also observed that social media sentiment around the Cloud9 and PUMA partnership announcement was 73% positive, 700%+ higher than the sports industry norm of 10% positive fan sentiment for similar campaigns in traditional sports, which tend to have a mostly neutral sentiment.

Case Study#2: Dollar Shave Club and Fortnite

  • From June to September 2018, the male-oriented grooming brand, Dollar Shave Club, collaborated with eight partners, including Ninja, to create nine sponsored videos. In three months, the videos had nearly 10 million views and continued to collect views after that.
  • The brand’s ability to generate so many views on its video integration over only three months shows how non-endemic brands can reach and incorporate themselves into the minds of younger male audiences, which account for most of Fortnite’s players.
  • The videos have 2.3x the average platform engagement. Overall, Dollar Shave Club enlisted streamers to discuss the often unusual ways streamers use the company’s products to endure the long hours of live gameplay.
  • As stated by Kym Nelson, head of Twitch’s West Coast sales, the brand decided to do something casual and fun, different from anything the platform has done before. They gave the creators the freedom to interact with the product, with very few instructions.
  • Some videos were live conversations and resulted in hilarious moments, which were later turned into viral videos, extending the reach of the campaign.
  • One of the videos shows Ninja using the product before his typical content, and explaining to viewers why it is useful in a casual way. The video has over 3 million views.
  • It also paired with The Game Theorists on a video surround Fortnite. As a result, it landed second place in the top 10 sponsored gaming influencer campaigns, with over 5.5 million views with one video.


Gen Z versus Millennials

  • Gen Z males are more likely than millennials to watch esports (77% versus 71%). They also spend more time watching game content (106 minutes versus 97 minutes).
  • Another difference relates to streaming platforms. While both cohorts watch Netflix, millennials tend to favor the streaming giant more, while Gen Z is more likely to subscribe and watch gaming-related YouTube channels.
  • While Millennials look for challenging video games that are not easy to get through, Gen Z tends to turn into games that are fun to play and have a good storyline, which is why they are more likely to be hooked to video game genres that involve action, adventure, or simulation rather than word games or card games.
  • Consoles are huge with both cohorts. As reported by Forbes, both generations picked a video game brand as their number one brand. However, while millennials picked PlayStation, Gen Z prefers Xbox.
  • One interesting fact about Gen Z is their relationship with mobile. While this generation tends to be connected and on their phones constantly, they are not fans of mobile games, especially men. Research conducted by App Anne and TapJoy discovered that they prefer other devices for gaming.
  • In fact, Gen Z accounts for only 14% of mobile gamers, while millennials make up 24% of the segment. Considering that 67% of these gamers are women, the share of Gen Z men becomes even smaller.

Gen Z Trend#1: Gaming as a social tool and "Virtuality"

  • For Gen Z males, significantly more so than millennials, gaming and esports are social tools. "This immersion in digital communication, specifically around gaming, provides myriad opportunities for brands and marketers to enter into Gen Z's gaming dialogue."
  • It is intrinsic to who they are, the choices they make, and the brands they favor These feelings associated with technological and societal changes are transforming these virtual worlds, making them become an extension of their daily reality and personas.
  • There is a strong sense of a community that compels them to participate. A recent study uncovered that Fortnite helps Gen Z to strengthen friendships, with 71% playing with real-life friends, and 67% saying the game made them better friends in real life.
  • Because they put such significance on their online experience and personas, they value their virtual avatar as much as a reflection of their identity, and virtual accessories and cosmetic items gain similar value to their real possessions.
  • For instance, a large part of Fortnite's success is connected to its ability to engage young celebrities and content creators and to include skins inspired by memes and pop culture.
  • Gen Z's love for in-game cosmetic items did not go unnoticed by brands, games, and sponsors. Supported by publishers, many esports games' decision-makers are starting to see the value of digital and direct-to-consumer products.
  • These products include in-game cosmetics and viewership offerings (access to more live match content as well as shoulder content), like player screen footage, behind-the-scenes tours with players, and post-match podcasts.
  • Fortnite holds live events in virtual spaces to engage with players. In 2019, more than 10 million players watched DJ Marshmello perform a live concert within the game.
  • Meanwhile, Nike created a virtual queue for their Air Max product launch, where consumers created avatars to queue for a virtual sneaker drop, in turn allowing them to buy new products.

Gen Z Trend#2: Venues and gaming centers

  • If five years ago esports stadiums did not exist in the US, today fans fill stadiums across the country to watch their favorite players in action.
  • Small and intimate esports lounges are popular among Gen Z. These lounges converge with the growing trend in leisure known as “competitive socializing.”
  • GameWorks builds gaming centers and currently operates seven esports lounges across the US, including locations in Denver, Las Vegas, and Seattle. Phillip Kaplan, the company’s CEO, states that they are particularly appealing to younger crowds. “For a generation that grew up with electronics and video games, this is a great way to socialize,” Kaplan says. He furthers notes that these venues are experiential businesses.
  • Insiders predict that the demand will drive investments in the area. Many new venues are under construction or recently opened to meet the younger cohorts demands. New venues in Texas and Ohio recently opened and a $50 million facility, with 3,500 seats will open in 2021 in Philadelphia.
  • Esports companies are also investing. Blizzard transformed the former The Tonight Show soundstage into a 450-seat esports arena. The venue gives Blizzard a permanent location to host tournaments and other events.

Millennial Trend#1: Betting

  • As esports grow in popularity, overshadowing traditional sports, the betting industry is turning its attention to millennials and their favorite games. As the fundamental aspects of betting on sports change, esports betting is currently gaining more traction and distinct profiles on many sites.
  • A significant number of sites, such as Unikrn, betway esports, bet365 esports, BUFF.bet, Lootbet and more, are highlighting esports betting options, and some sites solely dedicated to the niche are emerging.
  • Casinos are also investing in esports. Luxor opened a 30,000 square-foot named HyperX Arena, attracting headlines across the country, hoping to draw millennial males. According to Mark Green, vice president of global properties at Allied Esports, on a slow season, the arena attracts 700 people to the casino floor, on a busy day, that number can go as high as 1,500.
  • As the esports betting industry grows, so does the overall sports betting industry. However, insiders believe that it is the esports industry which is facilitating the growth in the sports industry, and not the other way around.
  • Millennials are the reason behind growth. Before esports, millennials were challenging for betting companies to reach, as they were not easily engaged by sports betting. Esports could facilitate the connection between the industry and the allusive cohort.
  • The number of tournaments that have been approved for esports betting in the US is still scarce. However, in November, New Jersey approved betting for the League of Legends World Championship, the first state outside of Nevada to approve esports betting. The industry is optimistic that this is a sign of progress.

Millennial Trend #2: Nostalgia and Vintage Games

  • In 2017, Nintendo launched the SNED Classic, a replica of the popular 90s Super Nintendo. It sold out almost immediately, and retailers struggled to keep up with the demand. By 2018, sales of the SNES Classic and the NES Classic surpassed 10 million units, almost a third of Nintendo's Switch sales.
  • Millennials' love for 90s games fueled Nintendo's success, and industry experts expect the trend to grow even more in the next years. Gaming companies are also relaunching classics such as Final Fantasy and Warcraft.
  • Frank Cifaldi, the founder of the Video Game History Foundation, believes that nostalgia may be one of the driving forces for video game subscription services in the future. Game subscriptions, for that matter, are another trend fueled by millennials, as reported by Deloitte.
  • Even younger generations that didn't grow up with these titles are developing an interest in them by learning about them on YouTube.

Research Strategy

As noted, there is a lack of publicly available metrics and marketing segmentation surrounding esports, albeit it is expected that the situation will be rectified soon, with companies like Riot signing partnerships with Nielsen to provide better insights to marketers and the public.
Our research through a large sample of marketing reports, surveys, and white papers suggests that researchers and companies treat the group age and gender as a given, which is not unreasonable, considering that according to SuperData Research, a company in the Nielsen family, 85% of esports viewers in the US are male. Add to that the fact that 85% are under the age of 35, and it is safe to say they are the rule, not the exception. Therefore, every data or insight that fits the group, will fit them, generally speaking.
The lack of well-defined data was particularly challenging concerning trends, as most sources, including Nielsen and other credible publications, tend to refer to the groups as one (18-34). We also noted that there is little information about broad consumer trends, most sources and reports present trends for the industry and investors, probably a reflection of the lack of maturity of the industry. For that reason, we had to rely on qualitative data to provide trends and other insights. We presented some insights surrounding the differences between both cohorts as well.
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