The influencer and the eSport star

I’d love to say influencers don’t matter. I’d love to point and laugh at the Kardashians and call them talentless wastes of space, or joke about how vapid and soulless ‘instagram models’ are. Or to ridicule a game company for trying to cozy up to a popular streamer who is going to dump them when the next shiny comes along.

But I don’t (or at least not often). Because while I might dislike all of the above personally, I can’t deny that not only does it have value, it in many ways has far more value than more traditional means of advertising and getting people to buy a product. On a significantly smaller scale, I speak from experience. I’ve ‘sold’ a lot of copies of games over the years here by blogging about them, and even at its peak this blog wasn’t a top X of anything, or receiving millions of daily views like a top influencer gets. Yet I still helped sales. I still convinced people to spend their money on a certain game that they otherwise might not have. If you are a dev and have a game I’m interested in, providing me a review copy that ends up being solid gets you more sales. From a business standpoint, that just makes sense.

It’s why someone like Shroud of Ninja, people who influence millions, are so valuable. Its also why they themselves earn millions, and why a budding new industry (eSports) is likely to overtake traditional sports in popularity in the very near future. I’d bet today more kids under the age of 18 watch eSports or streams then watch pro sports, and when those kids grow up a little more and start having disposable income, you can bet it won’t go towards traditional sports as much as it will towards eSports. I wrote a bit about this back in 2015, and now as we approach 2019 I’m even more confident in that future.

At the same time, I think the age of the ‘influencer because influencer’ will come to an end. The Kardashians are the WoW of social media influencers. There will never be anyone bigger, there are a countless number of imitators, and the whole thing being main-steam is more pop culture blip than a shift in how things will be going forward. The MMO genre peaked with WoW and won’t return to that high a spot ever again, and I think Instagram and all that peaks with the Kardashians. I suspect there will be a downturn in Twitter/Instagram interest (there basically already is with Twitter, to say nothing about MySpace and now Facebook), and the decline will be somewhat swift. Being social media popular will be looked back on as somewhat of a joke, much like the pet rock, even if the truth is that whoever invented the pet rock did make a million dollars.

eSports are different though. There is a legitimate skill there, and legitimate entertainment. Humans love sport/competition, and eSports is simply the modernization of that primal interest. Right now influencer is a tag used for both eSport stars and the ‘popular because popular’ crowd. That will change, and eSports will be left standing, more popular than most would have ever expected.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in League of Legends, Mass Media, PUBG, Rant, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The influencer and the eSport star

  1. Marathal says:

    The only hurdle I can see eSports having to overcome is the desire for the major backers to see a fast profit. Companies like Comcast didn’t get where they were by waiting for 3 or 4 seasons for an investment to pay off.

  2. CiaphasCain says:

    Well, i know of two footbal clubs that have a esports team, one of counterstrike and one on LoL, so tradicional sports have already started to embrace or at least to recognize that epsorts will have a bright future.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    Predicting the future is a mug’s game. If it wasn’t, we’d all be rich. That said, I think you may be right about eSports, although I think there’s a long way to go before they match the physical version, if only because it will take several generations dying off and being replaced for that to happen, which means decades.

    Not so sure about social media fading, though. The platforms will change, constantly. That will be a feature of social media, but I see human behavior changing to adapt to the always-on,everything-is-public expectations that the new technology has awakened in the very young. My feeling is that the generation not yet born, the first that arrives with social media already fully in place, will seem like aliens to us and we will seem like cavemen to them.

    • SynCaine says:

      On social media: I’ve read some reports, and have seen it myself in a few examples, that the younger generation (ages 16 and under or something like that) views social media and oversharing as uncool now. The prime demo (18-35) is still very engaged in it, but the next wave might already be out. That could change, but that is the current trend.

      Look at how already super uncool Facebook is, and how fast that happened. Twitter is next, and I’d bet Instagram isn’t far behind. Maybe something new does replace them, or maybe we overall trend to something else (back to real-time interactions, even if via the web or even VR).

  4. Alistair says:

    I almost started playing PUBG because of DrDisrespect.

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