If I spend $32 on something and don’t know if I got my proper value, I get miffed. So imagine Wargaming, which has spent $32 million on promoting its esports ventures — mostly on World of Tanks — but, early on, “had no idea what esports is.”
That shockingly frank admission came from an interview with Wargaming esports chief Mohamed Fadl on VentureBeat, who explains that the first $10 million the company spent on promoting esports back in 2012 was just to figure out if the company was going down the right path. Wargaming then partnered with ESL to improve its events and, despite some disconnect between casual and competitive play, has seen an increase in its viewership.
That still doesn’t mean Wargaming has a handle on exactly how esports is helping its games’ profit margins. Esports viewing is free, so the money doesn’t come in that way. Instead, Fadl thinks that
“We don’t monetize there [selling tickets]. We monetize through the player journey. We give content that is created and digested by everyone.”
The article says that Riot doesn’t make a ton of money directly from esports either, and I’ve heard of other companies viewing esports as more of a marketing tool than a direct money maker. I suppose that makes sense, seeing as how, unlike traditional sports, so much of esports is free to view, and there’s very little money to be had in licensing — sports teams can sell jerseys of popular players, but you don’t see that with esports stars. Lots of folks are key to the idea of esports becoming as big as, or bigger than, traditional sports, but if so, they’ll have to go a different route to turn a profit.