Michael King, head of Reprise Digital — an IPG Mediabrands company — says that despite the massive audience that makes up gamers in South Africa, only a tiny portion of brands are getting involved.

Globally, the video gaming industry is seven times the size of the music business and three times the size of Hollywood. "In the last couple of years, the gaming industry has grown to half a billion people globally, with the industry showing a 30%-50% growth year-on-year for the past three years," says King.

"In 2020, streaming of games is expected to reach the same viewership as the NFL. That's massive! I'm predicting that within the next two or three Olympics, there'll be a competitive gaming section included," King adds. 

According to the Reprise Digital team, there are a number of gaming tournaments that have just concluded at a global level. The International, a Dota 2 competition, had a prize pool of $30-million. The event is 10 times more lucrative than the Tour de France. The team says that, when put into perspective, one of the players on the winning team would have earned more money than Djokovic or Halep for winning Wimbledon in 2019.

"There is a great opportunity for digital marketers in South Africa to reach one of the biggest growth industries in the world, tied to one of the hardest to reach audiences — Generation Ys and Zs," says King.

"We know that this market does not respond to traditional 'push' methods of advertising. Rather, they respond to friend reviews, suggestions and online 'word of mouse' to shape their decision-making processes," King adds. "This is why influencer marketing is so successful in this space."

"Sure, eSports in South Africa is currently tiny in comparison to the global market but R3.6-billion in South Africa is nothing to sneeze at. The local gaming industry is offering huge opportunities to reach the younger audience and gives brands the opportunity to get in early. Vodacom, for instance, is the headline sponsor for the annual rAge expo in September this year, and there are so many more opportunities for brands outside of the gaming category to capitalise on this market," King says. 

"The future is bright for eSports in this country, and we're excited to watch it develop and grow over the next few years. Brands that are brave enough to jump into this category will absolutely reap the rewards of their investment," King concludes.

For more information, visit www.reprisedigital.com. You can also follow Reprise Digital South Africa on Facebook or on Twitter

*Image courtesy of Reprise Digital