Out-of-industry involvement could fast track South African eSports

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Internationally, more industries who are not directly involved in eSports, are taking notice. This leads, not only economic growth for the industry but to the inclusion of people who have in-depth knowledge of business and marketing outside of the industry. Many of these industries include people who have spent decades in the business sector and could possibly aid the growth and market share for eSports organizations.

While this is just another step internationally, locally it could mean closing an obvious gap in eSports. There are two sides to any out-of-industry involvement when it comes to eSports, and it’s important to detail them if we’re wanting to achieve stable growth and market share in South Africa. Unfortunately I am not a business major, I wish to merely state it as I see it going forward.

Economic growth and coverage

With the likes of ESPN, Turner, Yahoo, and more, eSports globally has reached an entire new level. These major organizations (which each have unique qualities related to eSports) are the types of interest we should be drawing to eSports in South Africa. Locally we have companies such as Telkom, who have partnered with the Digital Gaming League, as well as the investment by the founders of Food Lover’s Market in Orena.

The previously mentioned companies who have shown international interest have done so via coverage, such as news and broadcasting, while the others, such as Turner, are more directly involved in hosting their own tournaments to bolster the already booming industry. What’s most important about these interests are the people they bring with them. For example, the new head of Activision Blizzard’s eSports division is former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein. This is the exact type of business mind the gaming industry needs when talking about out-of-industry involvement. This includes other industries and like-minded people who aid the growth and bring their business knowledge to the table.

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Locally the involvement is limited to a few people. While the involvement from Telkom is purely an investment, the Digital Gaming League is still run by gamers, but the Telkom does bring a professional standard which does aid the DGL in market growth and drives public interest with it being associated to a top South African ISP. The involvement of the Founder of Food Lover’s Market with Orena is slightly different as one of the driving members of the investment is Travis Coppin, a gamer and business person. Both industries’ involvement in eSports are already a step in the right direction, but they’re not enough.

Who can we look to?

The question now is, what other companies could increase the growth of eSports in South Africa? If we were to compare certain industries with increased existing market share, how could they aid our end strategy here with boosting involvement, awareness and of course economic stability for those of us in the industry? The time of ignorance is over, and we can no longer take those seriously who blatantly admit they’ve never heard of online gaming, or eSports.

First of all, coverage. South Africa already has prominent eSports news coverage, but it’s extremely limited to people who follow the industry. From time to time an eSports article makes its way onto some mainstream news site, or the newspaper, but there’s no steady flow of information and news which other’s may find interesting. The involvement of major publications starting their own eSports vertical is near, and all it takes is one to get them all interested. This would usher in a new wave of marketing and even direct financial involvement from these major publications, much like ESPN and possibly Yahoo.

Secondly, broadcasting. South Africa has two major sporting broadcasters – Super Sport and SABC. Super Sport is one of the biggest sports broadcasting networks in the world covering almost everything that is sports. They’re owned by Naspers, who own a 34% share in Tencent, a share holder in Riot Games’ League of Legends. By the third degree of separation, you could jokingly argue that Super Sport already has some degree of participation, but jokes aside it’s time they started investing in South African eSports as it’s now becoming harder and harder to escape it. The involvement of these broadcasting companies could open up awareness and broaden coverage to those who might be slightly more interested in eSports than they initially thought.

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Thirdly, outside interest and investment. Similarly as the aforementioned involvement, the likes of business people and outside industries showing interest could bolster the rate at which certain eSports industries in South Africa go about business. This involvement could be wide spread from outside investments in eSports, top managerial positions being acquired by respected business people or consultancy from higher up aiding the understanding of proper business etiquette and professionalism.

These are just some examples of how the outside world of business could aid the rapid growth of eSports in South Africa. It’s undeniable that the majority of eSports organizations which currently operate in South Africa are run by passionate people, but with a guided hand they could be much, much bigger. Most of them are gamers themselves who saw an opening, but while they have an in depth knowledge of eSports, they may lack the needed business sense to properly grow and market their company. This is why I implore you to look outside and bring in those who know how to properly run a business.

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Last Updated: February 10, 2016

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit’s esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere – but my work here is independent of that.

  • Commander Admiral Chief

    [mssc]

    • VampyreSquirrel

      Is that the staff version of tl;dr?

      • Commander Admiral Chief

        LOL, kinda

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    And just how will these non-gaming companies recoup their investment? Because they will demand that. Pie-in-the-sky sales increases from presumably increased brand awareness? It’s nice esports is exploding, but they’d need their sales to explode too.

    • Guild

      True, imagine SANRAL investing. How would they recoup their investment? eToll for eSports 😛

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        lol

  • I ran a blog post on Tech Girl a few weeks ago. My audience definitely doesn’t follow esports (or even know it exists). Yet it had this incredible response from them – they were messaging me on Facebook asking about gaming as a sport, how they can get started etc. The interest from the general public is there and I think if the actual clans figure out how to market themselves as brands in their own rights, the non-gaming companies will be able to use them as a viable marketing channel.

    But I’m a n00b so what do I know.

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