With all of the interest and buzz around esports, and all of the investors and businesses trying to get in on the action, it’s important to understand the forces at work. Aspiring entrepreneurs looking to get involved with esports must understand the market they’re entering. And so I’d like to share one of the most important things that I’ve learned on my journey. It turns out, that there are really only two groups that matter
Esports is an interesting beast because it is not a product that was created by a person or a company. Instead, it arose from thousands (now millions) of passionate people who were all about video games and eager to see who was the best. It is a grassroots, bottom-up, phenomenon and it belongs to the community of gamers. This leads us to the first group worth understanding: The Community.
The Community includes casual gamers, streamers, pro players, pro teams, cos players, fans, shoutcasters, and others. It’s a massive and diverse group that can be found on communicating in games, on Twitter, Twitch, Reddit, YouTube, and Facebook. They have strong opinions about everything from patches to video cards and (especially) to any changes that developers make to their beloved games.
Speaking of Developers, they are the other group that exerts tremendous force on the esports industry. They own the intellectual property of the games they create, including the art, sounds, music, story, and characters. Because of this, they are able to control the rules of tournaments, who is allowed to participate, where their content is distributed and everything in between.
These two groups coexist in sort of a love/hate relationship, often frustrated with one another, but needing each other all the same. Gaming companies need to keep the community happy or they risk losing their customers to the next hot game. The community need the developers to continue to support the competitive ecosystem and create great events.
One important thing to note about both the community and the developers is that they are constantly changing. Gaming companies come and go while the community continues to morph and shift with new games and technologies.
This leads me to three recommendations for entrepreneurs in esports.
You need to cater to at least one of the two groups and need to make peace with both. You cannot fight either group…you will lose.
Focus on organic growth not a top-down approach. Understand that esports was born from the bottom up.
Be flexible. Influencers from both sides continually emerge and change.