2014 will be the year of the gamer.
We’ve seen major AAA titles do phenomenally successful in the market. New systems have just launched. Streaming services are a plenty.
eSports, the growing community around competitive gaming, is bigger than ever which is why I’d like to take this time to go through its popularity and what opportunities are available from the affiliate angle.
The Rise of eSports
Just how popular are eSports?
Considering that 32 million people tuned in to watch the League of Legends championship it’s easy to understand that this is going to be big.
Gaming has gone mainstream.
Platforms like Twitch have thousands of gamers showing off their play and it’s making them Internet (and real world) celebrities. Marathon sessions by Twitch streamers have brought millions to charities and through it have turned many heads.
Add in the rocketing sales of the new Playstation and Xbox, with many built-in recording and streaming abilities, and suddenly every gamer has a chance at gaining a loyal fan base.
But let’s get back to eSports …
Competitive gaming isn’t new but it’s now starting to gain momentum due to a variety of streaming services, YouTube, game developments, and sponsorship.
There have been a few games that have pretty much dominated eSports at this time:
- League of Legends
- Dota 2
- Starcraft I & II
- Call of Duty (franchise)
- Battlefield 3 & 4
- Counterstrike (1.6, Source, and Go)
If you want to get a glimpse of the community it has created then I’d say to take a look over on the eSports sub-Reddit. You could also take a peek at the newly launched channel dedicated to eSports put on by Major League Gaming.
The Affiliate Angle
Gamers spend a lot of money on their hobby (nearly $15 billion in America this last year).
Then you consider the hardware they’re buying and it becomes very apparent where to set your sights when it comes to affiliate marketing.
- Custom gaming pc’s and parts
- Peripherals like mice, keyboards, and headsets
- Gaming chairs
- Streaming hardware
- Travel and accommodation
Here’s what I would do to go after the eSports market:
1. Develop a website that is highly social (forums, live streams, chats) that covers news, events, players, and teams for eSports. Crowdsource much of the content through the social angles and set a budget to pay writers to continually update the site with fresh content related to the niche.
2. Devote a great deal of time toward commentary of events and broadcast it through Twitch or have it uploaded to YouTube. Take the time to do play through videos of the games, too. Consider hiring a devoted eSports fan to create the commentary.
3. Create an area with hardware breakdown. List the items the professional gamers are using and affiliate to the store. You could also get in touch with these individuals, conduct an interview, and leverage that buzz toward the affiliated items.
4. Sponsor an event (even if it’s small and local – which may actually be better when starting). Start attending these eSports events (if possible) or have someone on your payroll to go for you. Record anything and everything so it can be posted on the website and YouTube.
5. Hold regular contests and giveaways for gaming-related items. Take to social media and contest apps/services to build a buzz. Bring people back to your site and get them integrated into the community through your social features.
Easier said than done, of course, but you already possess much of the skills required to start a platform for the niche. Now all you need to do is get educated about eSports.
Commissions around 5 – 10% on items readily selling for $300 – $1000 will create a great earner. There are a wide range of individuals in the eSports niche, too; gamers just getting a start with streaming and competitions and veterans that are always looking for their next upgrade.
Like with any successful affiliate opportunity: make something great and valuable, connect the community, build the brand, and become an authority.
2014 is going to be a BIG year for eSports … might as well get started now.