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Having exploded to the mainstream in recent years, Esports is positively booming and fast-becoming a key form of entertainment around the world. Fueled by the growth of the popular online game Fortnite and celebrity endorsements from the likes of Michael Jordan and Drake, Esports has grown from a small niche into an industry in its own right, on track to surpass $1.5 billion by 2023. But as teams gain more fans and command more attention, fan engagement in Esports becomes increasingly important.

Esports and Fan Engagement

Audiences are growing fast, and, according to a report by Business Insider, the total Esports viewership is expected to grow at a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2019 and 2023. Keeping these viewers entertained and finding ways to boost esports fan engagement – and to measure the metrics – can help Esports teams and businesses to harness valuable insights that can be used to grow their reach.

This is one of the many reasons forward-looking teams and companies in the space are turning to technology partners to help them increase engagement, improve fan loyalty, and extract data insights across all their channels to help them understand their fans better. And blockchain technology is helping them achieve this in the following ways:

1. Creating a Fan-Centric Ecosystem

Many emerging technology solutions are helping teams to overcome key challenges around fan engagement in esports. Yet not all of them allow for the creation of a truly fan-centric ecosystem that fosters a greater sense of loyalty and belonging among their audience.

Using blockchain’s superior technology to create fan tokens allows fans to purchase these tokens on the platform and use them to unlock rewards, discounts, or exclusive content that generate higher engagement and loyalty. Fans can even use their tokens to gain voting rights and participate in key decisions affecting the team. At the same time, the sale of these fan tokens constitutes a significant source of revenue for the team.

By placing the fans at the heart of everything they do, teams can boost esports fan engagement and grow their user bases. They can also bring the team and sponsors closer to the fanbase in one secure, scalable, and transparent ecosystem.

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2. Rewarding Loyal Fans

By using a blockchain-enabled fan loyalty solution, teams can create a loyalty ecosystem whereby they can reward loyal fans for taking certain actions such as interacting with the team, making purchases from sponsors, or watching advertisements. Rewards can be paid out automatically using the smart contract feature inherent in blockchain technology which can be programmed to act when certain conditions are met – such as releasing tokens to a fan upon completion of a predetermined task.

Blockchain-powered loyalty platforms provide a frictionless way for sponsors, partners, and fans to utilise loyalty tokens across the ecosystem. So, for example, a fan could earn loyalty points for making a purchase in the team store. These could then be exchanged for rewards with the sponsor (or the other way around). The possibilities are endless but could include exclusive behind-the-scenes content, merchandise, ticket sales, and digital collectibles.

In addition to this, blockchain-based platforms are extremely secure, flexible, and easy to scale. Digital wallets enable fans to securely store and redeem tokens with ease and make transactions incredibly fast, which means that rewards can be earned much quicker than on traditional loyalty platforms and, thanks to the transparency inherent in blockchain technology, fans can track their awarded points more easily.

3. Unlocking New Ways of Interacting with Teams

Through the use of fan tokens that can be bought using fiat currencies like euros or dollars, Esports teams can monetize their fan bases and unlock new revenue streams, but also open up new ways for fans to engage with their favourite teams. These tokens can then be exchanged for merchandise, exclusive content, experiences, digital collectibles, or even a ‘VIP’ experience or behind-the-scenes session.

Fans can interact with the team and individual players in new, more personalized ways, and earn points or receive discounts in a virtual ecosystem. We have already witnessed many Premier League football clubs successfully using fan tokens to raise revenues and interact with their supporters. Now, Esports is quickly following suit with more and more teams and personalities like Susie Kim issuing tokens to boost fan engagement.

A blockchain technology also allows for the creation of digital collectibles powered by Non-Fungible tokens (NFTs). These can either be created as one-off pieces or made probably scarce, which makes them perfect for limited-edition collections. Their uniqueness can be instantly verified using immutable blockchain technology.

And unlike physical trading cards or collectibles, they don’t deteriorate over time, cannot be forged or replicated, and come with an immutable record of ownership history. Not only do they make the perfect instrument for increasing fan engagement in esports but they also allow teams to open up new revenue streams.

Digital collectibles can command extremely high prices. The popular NBA Top Shot platform, officially licensed by the National Basketball Association, recently sold one single blockchain-based collectible “Moment” of star player Zion Williamson for an eyewatering $100,000. Just imagine the demand for a limited-edition collectible of your Esports team’s star players.

4. Providing Teams with Rich Engagement Metrics

As a transparent and immutable ledger, blockchain can provide Esports teams with a complete picture of fan interactions and behaviour. So, rather than relying on fragmented platforms and channels that make it difficult to streamline data insights on audience measurement and metrics, blockchain allows for the creation of a fan-centric ecosystem that brings all fan interaction data together into one place.

This immutable data that cannot be altered or tampered with can be easily shared with team sponsors and business partners to create stronger and more profitable relationships based on mutual trust.

Teams can gain a better understanding of their fans’ likes and dislikes, popular products, and players, and the types of campaigns and actions that keep them engaged the most. This leads to more informed decision-making around content marketing initiatives and gaming events.

Boosting Fan Engagement for Your Esports Team

There are so many benefits to using blockchain to boost esports fan engagement, from the creation of fan-centric ecosystems to the generation of new revenue streams, improved relationships with sponsors, greater interaction between fans and teams, and inherent security and scalability. However, choosing the right solution for your team is essential.

There are a growing number of fan engagement and loyalty platforms on the market, but many of them fall short of the mark, especially when it comes to integration. Oftentimes, a team will find that their loyalty platform cannot be fully integrated with their existing systems and infrastructure, making it inefficient and cumbersome to use.

Moreover, many platforms still rely on centralized legacy technology that is vulnerable to security breaches. This is one of the major advantages of using blockchain technology as data is distributed across multiple nodes and there is no single point of failure. The data is also immutable and verifiable across your team’s ecosystem. So your sponsors and partners can have a clear picture of how their investment is being spent and what types of campaigns work best.

Protokol can help your team to boost fan engagement in esports with our fully customizable esports solutions that integrate easily with your existing infrastructure. Created with our highly adaptable ARK Core blockchain technology, our fan engagement solutions are entirely tailored to the unique needs of your organization and goals.

Find out how we can help your team better connect, monitor, and monetize their fan base by downloading our eBook “Creating a Fan-centric Ecosystem” or by booking a free consultation with our blockchain experts at protokol.com/contact today.

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