Many brands are welcoming in 2021 by setting a fresh agenda and looking to areas where they can expand their reach into new markets and demographics. Emergent technologies and behaviors are causing established sectors to rethink and restructure their approach to accommodate the needs of the consumers of tomorrow. One broad area that has seen huge growth over the past year is the global gaming and esports market. We take a look at what some of the major players in the space have got planned for 2021 and onwards.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known by its abbreviation PUBG, is one of the most popular video games of all time. The game has sold over 70 million copies globally across both personal computers and the various games consoles. In addition to this, it has been downloaded over 1 billion times and has grossed more than $4.3 billion in sales across iOS and Android devices.
It was the most popular game in India, where 50 million active users were playing monthly. This was until late 2020 when the Indian government banned the game outright as part of a sweeping embargo on Chinese produced games and services, such as the popular social network TikTok, that were considered to pose significant data protection risks.
Hoping to come back from being frozen out of this vital market, PUBG Corp. have announced they’re working on a bespoke edition of the game designed for the Indian market. PUBG. Corp have taken over the Indian rights of the game from Tencent, the Chinese company responsible for publishing the international version of the title, and have announced they will be hosting the Indian version on Microsoft’s Azure servers.
These steps are considered to be attempts by the South Korean developers Krafton Inc., of which PUBG Corp. is a subsidiary, to distance the game from associations with China. In addition to this, Krafton Inc. have announced plans to make investments in India of over $100 million in the IT, video games and entertainment sectors over the coming years. They will also be investing heavily in developing national Esports tournaments, making it clear they feel the Indian market is an important part of their future trajectory.
Another sector that has experienced growth over the past year is the online casino gaming market which is currently worth around $53 billion annually and is projected to grow by 11% year on year up to 2027. One of the most established brands in the space, the poker platform PokerStars, launched a new campaign late last year to raise the profile of the brand among new players.
The campaign, built around the slogan “I’M IN”, features numerous online and television commercial spots and is centered around an ethos of bringing together like-minded people into a vibrant gaming community. This trend is common among modern gaming platforms, where the collaborative component of the experience is coming to the fore as one of the unique selling points of this type of media, with the success of platforms like Twitch.tv and the Esports industry demonstrating this change in orientation. Microsoft is also rumored to be in talks to acquire gaming chat platform Discord for the sum of $10 billion, which would position Microsoft as a major player in the future of Esports.
Riot Games is another organization in the world of competitive gaming that is coming out swinging in 2021. The hosts of the League of Legends Championship Series, North America’s largest Esports tournament, unveiled a brand new studio on March 20th at their 2021 Mid Season showdown tournament. The studio, replete with over 4 million pixels across 4100 square feet of LED wall to wall screens, is designed to do double duty as a collaborative online streaming space as well as a physical competition venue.
Riot Games have stated that the previous year has been an opportunity to rethink their approach and pivot towards branding and messaging that celebrates the vibrant culture that has grown up around League of Legends, the most popular Esports game in the world, and the LCS. It’s a sign of things to come as Esports brands now begin to define for themselves what top-tier presentation of their sport looks like as we progress into the new decade, no longer seeking legitimacy by taking cues from traditional sporting media.