The Convergence of Celebrity Culture in the World of Esports
By: Evan Fraser
Esports has been one of the hottest topics in the sporting world over the past few years. With its rise in popularity, there has been an emergence of Esports brands/organizations that have been able to sign skilled gamers to compete and find success at various competitions worldwide. With the increase of gamers signed to such brands, more and more competitions with larger cash prizes are a result of the sport’s continued success.
Like any other professional sport, the interaction between celebrities unrelated to the specific sport has become common. Whether they become official ambassadors of the team just enjoy the fruits of premium seating at home games; artists, actors and athletes always find ways to get involved with professional sport organizations/brands. In recent news, we have seen popular athletes such as Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs buy into ownership groups of other professional teams (Kansas City Royals and Sporting Kansas City). Similarly, celebrities of all sorts are choosing to buy into the Esports industry.
The Esports industry has seen a rise in digital ad revenue every single year which has illustrated that the sport has enough money to prove its rising success. According to an article on Insider Intelligence, Esports digital ad revenue accounted for $143 million in 2018 and has risen to $226 million in 2021. In 2018, Canadian hip hop artist and international celebrity Drake recognized the world of Esports as a worthwhile business when he became a part of the ownership group of 100 Thieves.
More recently, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and rising basketball phenom Bronny James (son of NBA all-star LeBron James), were pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine engaging in the world of gaming with the support of FaZe gamers in the background. FaZe, an extremely popular international gaming brand, was successful in combining celebrity culture with the rise of their own brand. The FaZe brand is captured all over the cover of Sports Illustrated showcasing that they not only are finding success with their professional gamers, but they are also striving to breakthrough in the industry of lifestyle apparel.
Regardless of the many tactics used by various gaming brands to emerge as the best there is, it is clear that the world of esports will be on the radar of millions of people worldwide for many years to come. The use of celebrity endorsement to grow the popularity of esports has only just begun. We all should expect to see some of our favourite athletes, actors and spokespersons endorsing a variety of gaming brands in the very near future!