By Robert Hutchins
Video gaming IP specialists Tinderbox has just secured the ESL license. Associate vice president, Dan Amos talks to Licensing.biz about the strength of the brand, the strength of the sport and just how far it can go in licensing.
It’s arguable that eSports’ first emergence into the public eye was around the same time that video gaming took its commercial leap into the home.
Now, no one would believe for a second that the 1970s classic Pong could ever generate as much hype as the eSports leagues of today; the back and forth movement of a pixelated ball compared to the blood-spattering graphic of today’s Call of Duty, for instance, simply pales.
However, it exemplifies the fact that when documenting the evolution of watching others play video games as a past time, you may as well start at the point in which video games became a source of entertainment.
Since then, eSports has been a growing movement that in 2000 took an entirely new leap forward with the formation of the Electronic Sports League, banner that set about on revolutionising the video game entertainment space.
While eSports is no new development, its entry into licensing certainly is. And with excitement around the potential for the entertainment platform only building, we sat down with Tinderbox’s Dan Amos to find out just what ESL is bringing to the space.
Can you give us a background on the strength of ESL, its audience reach and the strength of the branding?
Esports is a truly global spectators sport with nearly 400 million viewers worldwide. ESL owns the largest portion of this viewer base of any eSports organisation.
Since 2000, ESL has been at the forefront of the eSports revolution, working with the most established game franchises to bring live and streamed events under the ESL banner to the world.
Can you talk us through the current strength of eSports in the licensing space? How are we seeing it break into the licensing world?
While eSports itself isn’t a new development, its entry into licensing is. It is well known that the high levels of engagement with game franchises does not exceed that of traditional entertainment, and this will also be true for eSports.
Fans do not only engage with the games themselves but also follow the teams and tournaments. Esports consumer products, until now, have been limited to events and online, but Tinderbox will lead the way in developing an ESL programme that exists at retail worldwide.
What is the potential for both eSports as an entertainment platform and ESL particularly in the licensing arena? What shape is this currently taking?
Esports as a form of entertainment is growing at a rapid pace. Live events are getting bigger, their frequency is increasing and events are even televised on major networks such as ESPN.
Consumer products based on eSports IP such as teams, games, players or leagues have until now only been available at the events themselves or online. Following in the footsteps of the rapid growth of eSports, Tinderbox will be working with the team at ESL to bring eSports consumer products to mainstream retail.
With a global audience that is both engaged and hungry for consumer products, eSports and ESL have huge licensing potential.
What are the key partnerships for ESL at the moment?
There are currently no product for ESL at general retail and we will be looking to develop an entirely new global programme in the consumer space.
What categories do you see ESL working well within?
ESL is already well-established within apparel and accessories categories at its major live events. Tinderbox will take this established category and bring it to general retail.
In addition, we see clear opportunities in consumer electronics, further extensions of ESL within lifestyle categories, experiential opportunities and relevant co-brands.
With the introduction of eSports into the licensing space and the growing demand for video game licences, it seems like it’s a pivotal moment for licensing in general – how well is the industry reacting to or aware of video gaming and eSports? What places Tinderbox at the forefront of this movement?
Since 2013, Beanstalk’s Tinderbox division has been supporting major game franchises like Microsoft Studios and more recently Activision. We have followed the rise of eSports closely and pursued ESL as a leading authority in the space.
We couldn’t be prouder to be supporting the team at ESL in bringing eSports consumer products to retail. We see first-hand retailers and licensees alike responding positively to game franchises. As eSports continues to make mainstream news, the world of licensing will continue to embrace it, and Tinderbox will continue to build awareness, through consumer products, for the fans.
And how do you maintain your position as leaders in this space?
Tinderbox has established itself as an agency dedicated to gaming IP, we are continually looking at trends in the games industry. But above all of that is our passion as genuine gamers that makes the difference.
We know how to support a game studio or IP owner and as fans we want to see the product hit the shelves that we want to buy. We also happen to have incredible clients that are as excited as we are to develop excellent products.
What is the next step for Beanstalk and the ESL brand> How will this be reflective of the evolving licensing space?
Since announcing our partnership with ESL in May, we have engaged in many discussions with potential partners and I am excited that very soon we will be able to announce our fist ESL licensees.
Gaming and eSports are huge parts of pop culture, licensing has seen huge success with major pop culture IPs and this is no exception. It is evident that gaming isn’t slowing down and at Tinderbox we couldn’t b happier to support the growth of this fantastic industry.
It’s great to see more interest in the gaming industry, in eSports and the future of entertainment. Esports is such a fascinating world, the more you delve into it, the more you come to understand its scope and scale.
Esports is huge, ESL is huge and we are looking forward to the future.