Why Luxury Brands Are ‘Putting on a Game Face’

Earlier this month, LoL Esports released the viewership data from its annual League of Legends World Championship Final, a live event held in October at Shanghai’s SAIC Motor Pudong Arena. LoL Esports said the final rounds were broadcast in 16 languages and across 21 platforms. The spectacle opened with a presentation by Mastercard that showcased an augmented reality concert by international pop girl group K/DA as well as Louis Vuitton’s LED-enhanced custom trophy case. Inside the case was the Summoner’s Cup. And the trophy ceremony was presented — for the first time — by Mercedes-Benz.

The final matches were between the Suning team from China’s LPL and Damwon Gaming team from Korea’s LCK league. Damwon won three matches to one.

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By the numbers, the finals match had an average minute audience, or AMA, of 23.04 million and peak concurrent viewers, or PCU, of 45.95 million. “There were one-plus billion hours of competition watched [live] over the course of the tournament,” noted LoL Esports. “This viewership sets a new record for [for the event] and is an indicator of esports’ increasing appeal.”

And while esports have been around for decades, the event spotlighted professional gaming’s growth in the West — thanks to companies such as Riot Games. Eduard Montserrat, chief executive officer of Stream Hatchet, said that with the record-breaking “Finals AMA of 23.04 million, Riot’s leadership within the Western esports market this year continues to boost the growth of esports’ footprint. This year, for example, esports watch time on Western streaming platforms increased by 10 percent, with leagues and tournaments organized by the Riot Esports team accounting for one-third of the watch time.”

This growth in viewership and participation in gaming and esports events is the key driver behind why luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton teaming up with gaming publishers such as Riot Games. Two weeks ago, WWD held a webinar, titled, “Luxury Brands are Putting on a Game Face,” to explore the implications of this trend and what it means for fashion apparel, retail and luxury. The session featured Naz Aletaha, head of global esports partnerships at Riot Games, and Obi Anyanwu, men’s wear reporter at WWD, and was moderated by Alexandra Pastore, business reporter at WWD.

Alexandra Pastore: Esports sponsorships are predicted at $584 million for 2020, accounting for 61 percent of the total global gaming revenue. The global gaming industry was valued at $150 billion in 2019 with the expectation of rating $180 billion in 2021. Additionally, Goldman Sacks is estimating that by 2022, the global audience for esports will reach 276 million.

Naz Aletaha: Just to set the stage, Riot Games is the developer and publisher of video games, most notably League of Legends, which we launched back in 2009. That game has,…

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