Rocket League and the Rise of E-Sports
On July 7, 2015, a small developer named Psyonix released their second iteration of “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars” (SARPBC), which is now known by “Rocket League.” It is soccer game that is played in an enclosed arena except the players are cars instead of people.
The game was released on PlayStation 4 and PC with more than 2 million downloads on PlayStation within one week of launch. In this time span, the number of simultaneous players at one time was over 150,000.
This past week Psyonix teased an announcement both in-game with a Roman numeral countdown and on Twitter stating that something big was coming later in the year. In the game, a three-day countdown began which sparked crazy speculation on different forms of social media, the two big ones being Reddit and Twitter.
The announcement stated Rocket League would be the first game ever that would be 100 percent cross-platform between PlayStation, Xbox and PC, a marketing strategy that could pay off immensely. The game was already as smash hit being able to be played across PC and PlayStation.
Cross-platform play has been asked for by the gaming world since the inception of online play. With this feature being introduced not only will the game be more popular amongst casual players who simply want to play with their friends, but the competitive aspect of the game will skyrocket as well.
Major League Gaming (MLG) and Electronic Sports (E-Sports) picked up very quickly on Rocket League noticing its potential as the next big game in the competitive gaming scene. Tournaments featuring the best players in the world draw crowds on the fast-growing game streaming website, Twitch.tv, a company that hosts individual video game broadcasters.
The online retail giant Amazon recently purchased Twitch for a whopping $970 million realizing the ability to advertise and help grow the gaming industry. The backing of a company such as Amazon can help activate the Twitch brand on a whole new level with an estimated 6.5 billion hours of video game video consumption by the year 2018.
To give an example, one of the world's top ranked Rocket League players, Kronovi, had nearly 220,000 viewers on his channel the month Rocket League was released. Tournaments featuring the top players and teams consistently pull anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 concurrent viewers.
This means we will continue to see a huge rise in world of e-sports and competitive gaming. A new type of sport in the early stages also requires a new form of sports marketing. In the coming years we may also see the rise of digital sports marketing agencies to sponsor these athletes.
The athletes are mostly entertainers while they broadcast their gameplay when practicing or just having fun. Sponsors must take a different approach when marketing to an audience whose activity has very little physical substance. Pushing for downloadable content (DLC) or sometimes physical products such as controllers, headsets, etc. can be a tall task, but as the popularity indicates, clearly the potential is there.
Activ8Media is an industry-leading digital marketing agency specializing in brand activation, sports marketing, UFC advertising and social media for businesses, athletes and entertainers.