President of Esports Ghana, Kwesi Hayword shares his thoughts and lessons from the Business of Gaming Forum at the recently concluded Comic Con Africa.

Lesson No. 1: Esports is Community Generated,

Nobody can take direct ownership of Esports. The ownership of Esports belong to the community and not publisher, or even the games itself. Communities define the games they want to play and the platforms they want to play on. Without the community to sustain the playability of a game to transcend to become spectator sports, games will easily die out after a period of time.

Lesson No.2: Any Brand can activate & Participate

Any brand can plugin into esports and specifically utilize all the components with the gaming space to their advantage. Be it spectatorship or audience engagement, social media reach, product activation, and service. To every brand, esports or gaming can be two things. Esports can be the perfect fit for brands to connect to a younger demography

Lesson No. 3: Powerful Story Telling

There are many powerful wonderful stories that esports is creating of young people lives being change from Zero to Heroes. Young men and women with little educational backgrounds following their passion after many years of an accusation of “You will amount to nothing”. Gaming was their escape and now Esports is their pillar of discipline, hard work, and Teamwork. These players are learning the life principle of honor and problem-solving abilities which can only be learned via gaming.

Lesson No. 4: HOPE! Activating Hope

Esports is the business of activating HOPE in People. It is the hope that young people find, believe in it and make it happen for themselves. It is also the hope that Business/Brands discover within the right targeted audience among the “NOW” Generation for profitability and social impact.

Lesson No. 5: You can’t talk about Esports!

You can’t talk or tell about Esports or competitive gaming, You need to show it. For individuals and brands who do not understand the space, they need to see it, feel it, and experience it to make the right judgment, you need not force it on them. Do not spend one-hour talking… show them the possibilities with an authentic video commercial or an invitation to an esports event to experience it themselves.

Lesson No. 6: Data, Statistics & Sponsors

Data in Esports is key in determining communities’ interest in competitive video games, geo locations, platforms, and demography. Data presents to potential sponsor the complete big picture of esport, locally, regional and global. Good data presents numbers in the true essence.

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With Data comes sponsorships, Esports is fuel by brands sponsorship and activations. The FAQ of most esports entities is “HOW DO WE GET BRANDS TO SPONSOR OUR ESPORTS CLUB OR ENGAGEMENT. The simple answer to that is “GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT AND SPEAK TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

Also, Reseach into any brand you want to approach for sponsorship, have a total overview of their business model, products and services and how they can better reach their targeted audience with esports. That is what I called having an institutional memory of the brand you wish to partner. 

Lesson No 7: Branded Gaming

Branded Gaming or Esports is the look and feels or I will describe it as the Visual beauty of Esports, it is, all in all, exhibiting the creativity of visuals that communicate an emotional connection with all the facets of the gaming ecosystem by a brand. It is the power of a brand to fully utilize the entire value chain of esports/gaming. For example;

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From live stage branding to merchandize, to gaming lounge within Events, to pop out stands, to giveaways, to the logo on streams, to live presenter mentions, logos on team jerseys, product exhibits at the event hall, to an in-game advertisement. There is so much to do with branded gaming. Brands just need to be more innovative enough to explore all the possibilities.

Lesson No. 8: Local to Global

One of the key lessons from ESL presentation was cultivating the grassroots with open leagues and then to National leagues to Global Championship Like ESL One. Product activation and roadshows can be the primary foundation in an open league which leads to a growing community in certain games.

Lesson No. 9: Natural Fit

Esports is a natural fit to reach the millennials. This generation is tech-savvy, smart and instant pop culture. Gaming comes naturally to them because it is their time of the world where pure fun is digitalcompetitive and social.

Lesson No. 10: Not Copy and Paste Advertising

Esports advertising is not “COPY & PASTE as with traditional advertising. Brand advertisement within and for gaming audience is not the same. Advertising that appealed to the gaming audience must be carefully curated and implemented.

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Lesson No. 11: KIDS! KIDS! KIDSCOM!!!

Amazing to my experience and wonder at Comic-Con Africa was KidsCom. Kids were also central participants to Comic-Con Africa. The Gift of Play is the right of every kid to enjoy. Gaming will forever be the primary domain of kids-inclusive entertainment and Comic Con Africa delivers this in a super unique way.

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The lesson learned here is this, Children are unique demography for brands to engage. Though esports may be competitive at the pro level, they are a great addition for activating massive merchandise and gaming related products and service at esports events or production.

The phrase “catch them young” also comes into play for brands wishing to have longevity with brand exposure within the space. Kids at events like this become early adopters to products and service being offered by brands and also the whole esports experience.

Lesson No. 12: Comic-Con Africa Venue

Gallagher Convention Centre…Your event your way. I found this tagline, of the event centre very welcoming to digital experiences like gaming and esports. The multifaceted establishment is a wonderful place to host the event and I believe the @Reed Exhibition pick the perfect location with all the available amenities. Comic-Con Africa was very colorful with cosplay at its core

Lesson 13: Unknown Africa: Pings & Servers

The South Africa gaming and Esport Culture is ever-growing and diverse but a lot is not known of that of the Western, Eastern and Northern Africa. For that matter most international tournament eludes us or talents from this unknown Africa regions do not get to participate to get the recognition they deserve.

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The cry for servers in these regions is still on to facilities the growth of gaming culture. Big publishing house like Tercent has recently announced giving Africa a dedicated server, this brings great news as it seeks to solidify the mobile gaming space in Africa. The unknown Africa gaming world needs support, partnerships, and collaborations to be seen on the global landscape of esports. Venture Capitalist and investors stand the chance for a long term Return on investment (ROI) then immediate benefits.

Lesson 14: B2B Networking

The Bussiness to Business at BoG was super quality, It is one of the true conferences that really delivers on its promise to meet industry players and discuss beyond the shared knowledge of esports but also build the relationships. At this point, the core mandate of the forum has been achieved because for some of us coming from different countries, not only did we do business with our colleagues at the forum but also with vendors and exhibitors at the Comic-Con Events grounds.

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I end by saying Africa will rise with Esports as a tool for development if we collaborate with all stakeholders within the entire ecosystem.

Kwesi Hayford | EsportsGhana President | Email: | skype: Ebenhay | Cell: +233 24 222 333 5