Getting in on the Game
E-sports are booming like never before in Germany and the rest of Europe. Video game tournaments offer electrifying opportunities for sponsorship and brand awareness, so it’s not surprising that international sports players are joining the fray.
A few years ago, Germany’s biggest soccer teams noticed they had a problem: The age of the average fan had reached 42 – older than the target demographic that most advertisers covet. But efforts to attract younger supporters with traditional marketing and promotion weren’t working. “Everyone between 14 and 30 is super difficult to reach,” says Constantin Rittmann, German country representative for the Swiss e-sports agency MYI Entertainment. “They don’t watch TV or listen to the radio, but they’re all gaming.”
So football clubs decided to go where the kids were. Nowadays, iconic German football clubs like Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen “field” teams to play virtual soccer and compete in tournaments featuring games like League of Legends, Smash Bros. and Fortnite.
With football clubs lending the scene legitimacy and Covid-19 pushing more people online, Germany’s e-sports are poised for explosive growth. Globally, almost half a billion people play e-sports. “From a niche sport, e-sports athletes have become among the best paid sportspeople in the world,” says Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) analyst Oliver Wilken.
»We saw there’s big potential in Germany.«
German country representative for the Swiss e-sports agency MYI Entertainment
New players from Switzerland and Turkey
The growing scene has international companies eager to jump into the action. In 2020, Switzerland’s MYI Consulting opened its first German office, offering companies help accessing the e-sports scene through team sponsorships and setting up tournaments. “We saw big potential in Germany,” Rittmann says. MYI’s clients sponsor tournaments in order to raise brand awareness among tech-savvy young people who might one day be promising software engineering recruits.
Other companies are targeting gamers themselves. Turkish computer hardware manufacturer Monster Gaming, which specializes in souped-up laptops designed for e-sports, entered the German market in late 2020 with a showroom and store in central Berlin and a raft of tournament sponsorships. “The German e-sports market is big and will get bigger for sure,” says Germany sales director Goktug Oguz. “We want to be part of it.”