There is no denying, gaming culture is on a rapid rise. The Overwatch League is melding traditional sports and online gaming with a city-based league structure, and eSports are even being considered for the Olympics.
And with services like Twitch, YouTube, and social media making it easier than ever for streamers and eSports teams to grow massive followings, it’s no surprise that the demand for gaming sponsorships is greater than ever.
However, the one thing that seems to be lacking in the industry, is information regarding how to properly secure, manage, and profit from gaming sponsorships from the perspective of the person/team seeking the sponsorship.
This article is meant to serve as your guide to navigating the confusing and convoluted waters of gaming sponsorships. You can expect to learn:
As you would assume, not all sponsorships are created equal. A big issue in the gaming market, especially on social media, is that the industry incorrectly uses the term “sponsorship” as a blanket term for all partnerships. This not only causes confusion in the gaming community, it also prevents streamers and eSports teams from properly securing the correct level of sponsorship to fit their needs.
In reality, there are 3 primary types of gaming sponsorships:
Most common among gaming sponsorships, and the one that is subsequently most commonly mismanaged and misunderstood, is the Affiliate Code. The Affiliate Code Sponsorship is truly a beautiful thing.
This bread and butter gaming sponsorship gets its benefit from creating a 3-way, mutually beneficial relationship between the sponsor (business), sponsoree (person/team receiving the sponsorship), and the consumer.
Here’s how it works.
This level of sponsorship is also fantastic because it allows people and teams with small audiences, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to secure a sponsorship, the ability to become partnered with a business and to provide a form of income for themselves or their organization. Additionally, it provides them with a greater degree of legitimacy as it aligns their potentially smaller name with the larger/more trusted brand of the business.
A step above the Affiliate Code sponsorship is the Hybrid Sponsorship. The Hybrid Sponsorship provides all of the benefits of the Affiliate Code Sponsorship but also includes some added perks for the sponsoree. In addition to a discount code for their audience, the Hybrid Sponsorship will also include an internal code, often for a substantially greater percentage discount, to be used only by the sponsoree and their internal team members.
This allows the sponsoree to receive substantially discounted products themselves instead of relying solely on the smaller, external discount code. Additionally, the sponsor might provide discounted or free product to the sponsoree for use in giveaways, contests, reviews, photo shoots, and attending live events. This is often handled on a case-by-case basis and is dependent upon the perceived incremental benefit for the sponsor by providing the additional products.
This level of sponsorship is typically reserved for low to mid-tier eSports teams or influencers in the gaming market with a substantial enough audience to drive a more consistent level of sales for the sponsor (business).
Typical requirements for influencers:
Typical requirements for eSports teams:
See the section later in this article that discusses the most common mistakes made when securing a gaming sponsorship.
It is possible in some cases for Affiliate Code Sponsorships to transform into Hybrid Sponsorships as the sponsoree proves themselves worthy of such an increase in their sponsorship terms. This is usually done by generating a certain level of monthly sales and social traffic for the sponsor.
The most sought after gaming sponsorship of them all is the Pure Sponsorship. With a Pure Sponsorship, the streamer/team are receiving monthly benefits from the sponsor in exchange for promoting the business. These perks typically take the form of free product, a monetary payment, promotion of the sponsoree by the business, or any combination of all three.
The Pure Sponsorship is reserved for the truly elite, high-end, pro-level eSports teams and the individuals in the gaming community that have massive audiences and influence.
This is the most common sponsorship in the world of professional sports. However, it is substantially less common in the gaming and eSports community as there are few eSports organizations that are perennial tier 1 elite organizations and few streamers or YouTubers with audiences large enough to make enough sales for the business to justify paying for these sponsorships.
Again, see the section later in this article that discusses the most common mistakes made when securing a gaming sponsorship.
This can't be stressed enough, a sponsorship is only as good as the business you are representing. The entire purpose of a sponsorship is to work with sponsors who will support you and enhance the value of your team/stream/channel. Therefore, selecting the right businesses to work with is critical for your success. When analyzing businesses, consider the following criteria.
This is a no-brainer, you can't endorse a product that you don't even use!
You NEED to be a customer and fan of the company or be willing and excited to switch to their product before you should ever consider attempting to secure a sponsorship from that business.
The likelihood of you encouraging your friends and fans to use your affiliate codes goes up exponentially when they see you yourself using the products, enjoying the products, and talking about the products. It builds an incredible sense of credibility.
It's important to align yourself with businesses that fit your space. It wouldn't make sense to pursue sponsorships outside of your segment. If you are an eSports team, it likely wouldn't make sense to sign with and promote a car insurance company.
Knowing your audience, you are far more likely to have success promoting a gaming drink. Ask yourself what your audience would benefit from and what would they be likely to buy. Use common sense here.
It's astonishing how frequently small streamers and eSports teams sign up for affiliate codes from 3 or 4 businesses that sell the SAME products! That does absolutely no one any good.
Think about it for a second, if you plaster the logo of 4 gaming chair companies in your Twitter header, your friends and fans will never see that and use your codes. Therefore you will gain no revenue and no value from that sponsorship. Not only that, but the businesses don't benefit from that and neither do your fans. Do everyone a favor and keep your sponsors exclusive.
If you are trying to select between companies within a particular industry, it's obviously best to choose high quality, popular, practical products.
Quick exercise, would you prefer to be sponsored by Under Armour or Champion?
Tesla or Kia?
An ELITE gaming beverage with a formula FULL of powerful ingredients or a can of soda with a LOT of sugar and a little caffeine?
That's one reason why we feel very strongly that Rogue Energy is one of the best businesses you can secure a gaming sponsorship with. Take a look at our formula vs. the "competition".
Apply for a Rogue Energy Gaming Sponsorship.
So, now you know roughly what level of sponsorship you are qualified to receive. You have identified businesses you would like to reach out to. Now it's time to approach businesses and apply for their sponsorship programs.
So what's the best way to make a positive first impression and to improve your likelihood of being accepted?
First, make sure to head directly to the business's website. Almost every business will have a designated Sponsorship tab with critical info. Typically a form fill will be present where you can share your relevant information. Think of this as a submitting your resume.
Don't send a Twitter DM asking, "Hey bros, do you sponsor? Hit me up with a sponsorship!" Do you really think this makes the best first impression?
You can gain a leg up by providing a media kit for your eSports team, complete with monthly social impression numbers and tournament results. Keep in mind, this isn't necessary, but can help your chances of being approved.
This section is the "what not to do when securing gaming sponsorships" portion of the guide.
Not to burst your bubble, but your 400 Twitter followers and frequent posts complaining about your day aren't exactly jumping off of the page as being worthy of FREE product or financial compensation. Be realistic with what you bring to the table. At the end of the day, the value you are bringing to the sponsor is sales and awareness, plain and simple.
As mentioned previously, category exclusivity amongst your sponsors is a must. You can only have ONE controller company, ONE gaming chair company, ONE energy drink company, etc.
13 businesses is too many. Aim for 4 to 6 high quality gaming sponsorships.
You have to be a fan of the business before you can ever convince someone else to become a fan. Get your hands on that the sponsor's products!
You would never go to a job interview unprepared, why would you apply for a sponsorship without knowing anything about a business? What do they stand for? What variations of their products do they offer? Is there anything new with their business? Where do they stack up to their competition?
We just covered what not to do, now here's several helpful tips to help you maximize your gaming sponsorship benefits.
Hopefully you can take the knowledge you have gained here and utilize it to secure your own, optimal gaming sponsorships.
Feel free to check out the Rogue Energy Sponsorship. It's an open sponsorship program so you don't need to worry about being rejected!