Bear with me on this one.
I have seen it countless times in the esports industry. Organizations are capable of locating and developing top talent in sub-premium tier games (e.g., I’m not talking about League of Legends and DOTA; I primarily mean the smaller scenes such as Vainglory, Hearthstone, and the like). Yet, they fail to leverage that success into high-profile sponsorship or investment opportunities and their profile goes largely unnoticed. It’s even happened to organizations under my watch.
This is why Parse Esports Consulting exists. A lot of esports owners and managers hedge their reputations and budgets on fielding successful teams, yet fail to realize that success in a game does not mean success in business.
In many ways, this is because of how esports developed. Many of the leaders of these companies and organizations come from a background as professional or semi-pro players, are video game enthusiasts, or something similar. What they tend to lack is business acumen and a staff that can focus on the business side of the company. That is a tragic mistake; it leads to organizations that are successful competitively but unsuccessful organizationally.
A strong esports company is one that brings balance to the yin and yang of esports and video game knowledge versus a thorough understanding of the esports industry and the businesses that operate in that space. Bring in managers and leadership that recognizes competitive talent and can develop players into champions, but don’t ignore the need for strong financial organization, a visionary leader who can draw out the best in employees, and business-focused human resources that actively seek investments and sponsorships.
Some organizations have really “lucked out” in this industry. While I won’t point fingers, I recommend you think about companies that have championship teams but not serious marketing strategy. Companies that grew out of YouTube viewership and now enjoy million dollar-plus sponsorships, but do not represent their sponsors well or cannot seek out investment opportunities. And so on. These companies are lucky because the scene is still young. Larger non-endemic and endemic companies that recognize the need to exist in the esports space are finding very few well-structured companies, and are therefore defaulting to the companies that have the largest followerships, regardless of how well they operate as a business.
That mentality will not last forever. Already, several companies are forming from VCs and investors that are behaving like a well-structured business. And while they are experiencing some modicum of success, I sense most of these companies lack proper esports expertise necessary to bring in the right talent, exist in the space, interact with other organizations, and provide feedback to developers and event organizers. It’s obvious that a balance is crucial here
The window of opportunity for organizations and businesses to get in-gear and get at the forefront of this growth is closing. Already major leagues such as Overwatch and League of Legends have closed their franchising bids and the companies that succeeded to land a franchise spot will undoubtedly start developing the necessary business skills to exist as an entertainment channel. Yet still many sponsors are looking for that “next” organization that is going to set new standards for esports success.
If you want YOUR company to be that next organization, let’s talk. You’ll want all of your pieces in place to make the right pitches to sponsors and investors, and they will only be impressed if you can show the appropriate balance of industry inside knowledge and general business skills.