The world of esports is constantly evolving, with new games, technologies, and platforms always emerging. As the industry continues to grow, organizations and businesses need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments.
To gain insights into the most noteworthy esports trends, we sat down with Edgaras Abromavičius, the Head of Esports & Gaming at the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF). In this interview, Abromavičius shares his thoughts on the current state of the industry, emerging marketing opportunities, and what the future holds for esports.
What marketing trends do you consider the most influential in the esports and gaming market? Where should esports organizations look to promote their brand?
We are at something of an industry tipping point. We’ve been seeing particularly high attention to esports education in various educational institutions and beyond. Also, I would emphasize the integration of gaming into the human resources development strategy in corporate companies. We see many companies that use interactive media to develop teamwork skills, develop a friendly team, etc.
However, I would emphasize the importance of education not only as a marketing step but as an important stage for the esports industry. We need to help future professionals and players to build sustainable careers in this business. With this step, we will also reach the audience of parents who have the most influence on future players and managers.
Esports tournaments have become a truly global phenomenon over the past 20 years. Do you think the esports industry will continue to develop at such a rapid pace, or will its growth slow down significantly in the coming years?
It's a great observation that esports events are global. This is a unique opportunity compared to classic sports. An example of the NBA can be noted, when the NBA 2K league curated by the association became the most popular product. Clubs from the USA, China, Australia, and Mexico play in the virtual basketball league. To implement the same in basketball, a number of infrastructure and logistical problems would arise.
Back to the question, yes indeed. However, esports industry players need to refine their business models and create attractive products for new markets. One of the possible examples is the faster inclusion of women and the attraction of disabled people to participate in esports championships.
How closely does the Lithuanian Football Federation interact with the esports community?
We always strive to stay in close contact with the community that spends a lot of time playing the game of FIFA. This is the second year that the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF) is working on the development of various FIFA tournaments. When selecting the Lithuanian football esports team, the first step was to contact and get to know the representatives of the promising community. This helped us understand the market situation and how we could improve it. Further, this development helped to establish the first official esports league for football clubs – the Esports A league. Most of the club players are from the same community of players.
Besides that, we work with universities, where we contribute to the development of an esports module for management students, and we visit federations of other countries, where we share our good experiences.
In your opinion, which esports games can compete with the most popular competitive titles like CS: GO, DOTA 2, League of Legends, and Rocket League?
In my personal opinion, it should be NBA and soccer esports games. Also, I would keep a close eye on the Rocket League game, which has the attributes of a classic sport. I mention sports games because they have a lot of support from international federations and leagues like the NBA, FIFA, FIBA, etc. All mentioned associations are well organized and have a wide user base (sports fans), which is especially relevant in the development of esports. Finally, a sports game is a medium that allows people from different generations to talk. CS or DOTA 2 are new sports disciplines for many people of the older generation, so classic or virtual sports are a medium that unites children and parents.
What esports educational initiatives are the most significant today? Why?
These would be initiatives by universities and private organizations. If we look at the US market, it is a really popular discipline in various universities and colleges. Students receive scholarships, special IT knowledge, and experience. In Europe, we are lagging behind in this area, but we are seeing rapid growth in various regions.
I would single out universities that offer a bachelor's degree in esports management. This is a completely different type of science than after completing a course or module. Students get to know the behind-the-scenes of the industry and acquire all important general competencies. In the future, we should see more esports-related higher education initiatives that address pressing social issues.
What product placement techniques do you consider the most effective for modern competitive and casual games?
During my dissertation research, I had to study the effectiveness of product placement and compare it during four different media consumption: watching an NBA VR game, watching an NBA esports game, watching a regular NBA TV game, and playing an NBA 2K game. The results showed that the highest level of memorization and recall is achieved when the brand is integrated into the content. This means that the user himself interacted with the product and received some benefits. Interactivity is the key for today's consumer.
What innovative technologies do esports organizations tend to use to increase their brand awareness?
Personally, it would be difficult for me to speak about my colleagues' work. I could reveal that we maintain a close relationship with Lithuanian scientists who work in the fields of marketing and artificial intelligence. We aim to use science and IT knowledge for potential new commercialization opportunities in the esports industry.
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