I am thrilled to announce a new research partnership devoted to the study of fandom in esports (I know opinions vary on the spelling – eSports, etc…). We are partnering with the Skillshot division of Hi-Rez studios. This is a great opportunity to do some very cool stuff in one of the hottest categories of sports and entertainment. In particular, the digital world of competitive gaming provides some unique opportunities to study fandom. The key is that in the digital world we can link watching, playing and buying.
As part of this new partnership I recently sat down with Zhe Han. Zhe is my PhD student and he is working on a dissertation that examines how players respond to dynamic incentives in video games and other mobile applications. Zhe is also an avid gamer and a big time consumer of esports. In this episode we talk about a range of issues related to gaming and this (relatively) new phenomenon of esports. There will be a LOT more to come.
Click logo below to listen to this Fanalytics podcast episode.
The official press release is below:
Esports Fandom Research Initiative Announced by Emory University and Skillshot Media
Partnership to explore the relationship between Watching and Playing within the rapidly growing esports sector
ATLANTA. November 1, 2018 — The Marketing Analytics Center at Emory University and its Influential Analytics Lab are partnering with the Skillshot Media division of successful Georgia-headquartered gaming company Hi-Rez Studios to study consumer behavior and fandom in the rapidly growing esports sector. The interactive entertainment industry, which includes video games, mobile gaming and competitive video gaming known as esports, generated over $100 billion in global revenues in 2017 alone.
The purpose of the Esports Fandom Research Initiative is to apply cutting edge analytics techniques informed by sophisticated psychological theories in order to study how the consumption of esports fosters consumer interest. The partnership will provide data and access for multiple PhD students to explore how passive consumption of esports leads to active engagement with games. Learnings can then be applied to better identify, understand, and utilize the explosive growth in business opportunities for game publishers, media companies, and brand sponsors within the esports space.
“Most leading game publishers now have an intuition that an esports ecosystem supports higher player engagement and perhaps even higher in-game monetization”, said Todd Harris, President of Skillshot Media and co-founder of Hi-Rez Studios. “We certainly share this hypothesis and are excited to test it more rigorously. We’ll be supporting this experienced Emory research team to better quantify the relationship between watching esports and playing esports, which should help inform publishers and other partners on their esports investment and expected return.”
The Emory Marketing Analytics Center has been actively studying fandom in categories ranging from sports to politics. Gaming and esports provide exciting new opportunities to study evolving fandom, and the digital nature of esports programming and its consumption supplies researchers with extensive data with which to study behavior of casual consumers and hyper-invested fans alike.
The Research Program
The partnership between Emory University and Skillshot Media, the largest esports producer on the U.S. east coast, is focused on creating innovative and meaningful research projects related to esports and gaming. The core of the program is an emphasis on the consumer and gaining a better understanding of how the interactive nature of esports creates a new type of engagement and fandom. The research program aims to translate its outcome to a relevancy well beyond gaming, as trends in culture and technology all point to a future where industries ranging from education to fitness include digital delivery and gamification systems based on behavioral decision making theories.
Investigating the Interplay between Watching and Participation:
Interactive entertainment such as gaming provides opportunities for both active and passive consumption. Traditionally consumers have interacted with games by being active players. This active play has expanded in scope and scale and can now cross cultures and continents. More recently, we have seen the growth of esports as a category where fans participate by watching high level players compete against each other. This competition can be consumed in traditional physical arena settings or via streaming services or videos on demand.
Investigating Consumer Behavior in the Video Gaming Industry:
Gaming applications often feature a variety of dynamic incentive schemes and social community structures that can greatly influence consumer behavior. Current research projects investigate how gamification systems such as rewards, leveling up and earning community status alter consumer preferences and purchasing behavior
For more information about the Esports Fandom Research Initiative, please contact mike [dot] lewis [at] emory [dot] edu at Emory University.
About the Marketing Analytics Center at Emory University
The Marketing Analytics Center at Emory University connects academic, business and student communities interested in the analysis of consumers. It is directed by Professor Mike Lewis, who also conducts academic research through the Influential Analytics Lab.
About Skillshot Media:
Skillshot provides a turnkey esports solution for leading competitive titles, including online and offline tournament organisation, industry-leading esports production and active community management. Skillshot has over five years of esports experience, hosting thousands of global competitors, paying out millions in tournament prizing and serving over one billion esports views to date.