Riot Games recently revealed a new in-game digital signage system for League of Legends Esports. The organisation has approved advertising space for up to 50 brands to be granted visibility during professional matches on the game.
The move illustrates how esports can learn from traditional sports when improving their commercial offering. The Arena Banners put partners' brands directly onto the field of play - echoing the experience found in major sports stadiums.
The in-game ads will promote Riot Games current portfolio of sponsors, including Mastercard and StateFarm. However, the brands won't be visible to the players. Riot has constructed this new feature to be visible only for spectators. This gives the game a fresh way to deliver brand exposure to sponsors while keeping the integrity of the game for its players.
Esports have leaned on traditional sports when growing their commercial offering previously. Even in an online world, physical logos are blazed across the front of gamers’ kit. Largely, such moves have been peace-making offerings for corporate boards – who wish to see something tangible. However, the in-game branding is different. Nielsen say it will instantly become one of Riot’s most valuable deliverable assets.
There is a huge opportunity here for game publishers as well as sponsors that move early. Interest in esports continues to rise. Brands and traditional sports have struggled to reach the Gen-Z audience. But it might just be a play from the traditional sports model that elevates Esports to the next (commercial) level.
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