Romain Tixier, Co-Founder and COO of GosuRabbit has been interviewed by the french magazine SPORT Strategies.
Here is the English translation:
“SUPPORT PROVIDED IN THE VIDEO GAMING WORLD MUST BE EXTREMELY PRECISE AND UNREMITTING”
ROMAIN TIXIER, CO-FOUNDER AND COO OF GOSURABBIT
At the helm of GosuRabbit – formerly known as esportstrategy – Romain Tixier runs through what’s at stake in the gaming industry. A thorough interview that addresses the use of video games for communication purposes, as well as the current state of play and emerging prospects in the world of esports.
Romain Tixier, how did you get into esports?
As far as I can remember, I think I fell into the world of video games with the release of Counter Strike in 1999. As I didn’t have enough time to train at a high level, I switched roles, becoming Marketing Manager and then President of the team for which I played, before selling my shares. I continued my journey with the Millenium team in 2012, then took on the challenge of profiling esports and video games within meltygroup. After accomplishing that, in 2016 I finally decided to stand on my own two feet to found esportstrategy, a consulting company specialising in the gaming industry.
You were a columnist for us last year, but can you remind us what Esport Strategy’s raison d’être is?
I created this company based on the premise that brands poorly appreciate the gaming universe. While the video game industry is more powerful than the film and music industries combined, brands struggle to use it to communicate. Whereas brands readily turn to actors, athletes or musicians to express themselves, they do not yet instinctively think about video games. The complexity of the sector, which revolves around a specific culture, partly explains the reluctance of brands; which is why, since its creation, Esport Strategy is dedicated to helping brands navigate and even integrate all of these emotionally-engaged communities, through campaigns launched in collaboration with very influential YouTubers and Twitch streamers, capable of attracting large audiences. In fact, our expertise consists in supporting brands to harness esports, and more broadly the world of video games, as a communication channel in its own right. I must admit that advertisers are starting to take stock of this universe. Requests are increasing year by year. This business growth context led us to join forces with a British firm to form the holding company GosuRabbit.
The industry is developing at a remarkable pace … What are the reasons for such rapid growth?
This is an ecosystem that is structuring itself and developing at the same speed as the Internet. Nothing is a given. Operators in this ecosystem need to constantly reinvent themselves because their revenues depend on games, and notably, the limited lifespan of these. As it were, players and influencers need to be responsive, because the audience they generate is closely linked to the success of the games in which they are involved. This forces them to be alert to the environment in which they operate and to innovate, otherwise they risk seeing their community shrink, and consequently their revenues too. This agility and their capacity to put forward proposals has a positive snowball effect on the whole industry, because they are able to gather a growing, loyal and engaged community, which in turn attracts advertisers, thereby validating a virtuous economic cycle.
After the sports business industry, we now have the esports business!
The same economic factors come into play here: audience growth, digital marketing, influencing…But it’s a shame that esports has become a victim of its own success and is attracting too many inexperienced, and sometimes incompetent, actors, ready to work as self-proclaimed consultants. As a result, guided by people who aren’t experts, many brands end up messing up their esports strategy and don’t want to give it another go. Support provided in the video gaming world must be extremely precise and unremitting. This means that in addition to perfectly understanding the sector, one must factor in client expectations and the environment in which they operate. For example, we are currently advising a cricket club in Calcutta, India, on two fronts. Local engagement first of all, which we hope to generate by creating a mobile game that reflects the club, and by organising an esports tournament for the club. Whereas some consultants would spontaneously reach out to big names such as League of Legends or Counter Strike, we will partner with PUGB who is trending in India. The second objective of the club is to create international awareness and understanding of their brand. To reach that objective, we will call on an American gaming influencer to go behind the scenes of the club. That way, the influencer’s community will discover cricket and be able to place Calcutta on the map! This cricket club is one of many examples, but it shows the extent to which you need to engage and understand both the sector and your client to provide optimal support.
More and more schools are now teaching esports business. Perhaps the future of the sector is in safe hands!
I’m in two minds on this. On the one hand, very good operators like XP – highly-specialised schools – are providing excellent teaching, as good as that of our renowned business schools, and are therefore capable of forming a strong generation of business developers in the years to come. On the other hand, I worry about the growing number of opportunistic schools that are latching onto the niche of esports without knowing how the industry works. Extreme vigilance is needed to recruit the right people…
Due to the suspension of events, the sector is experiencing its first tough period. What are your thoughts on the current situation?
The crisis is undoubtedly impacting businesses that revolve around production and events. They are suffering, but I am sure that events will resume with greater intensity as soon as physical competitions are authorised. There will be fallouts, but I think the crisis can actually ‘cleanse’ the market. There will be high market concentration, not through investments but as a result of firms disappearing. Some small firms that have only been scrapping by will go bust, which should benefit the sector, by reinforcing the well-established firms. As we wait to see how things pan out, I don’t think the need to go digital is a problem. Going back to their roots has even shown the agility of operators in this industry. The sector has remained very active, as indicated by the strong audiences and in some instances historical numbers that have been reached, which I think will reassert the value of online advertising campaigns.
What advice have you given your clients? In other words, what strategy should they adopt in the absence of physical events?
We advise our clients to remain active on social media to keep a close link with their communities. We encourage them to launch online events, and where appropriate, to go ‘offline’ during the final of a competition. In addition, to gain exposure, we propose to activate influencers to increase the visibility of their branding during online competitions.
With the influx of esports content and events, are domestic markets not at risk of becoming saturated?
This is one of the risks. To prevent this from happening, Bandai Namco and I redesigned the format of events. Until now, editors relied on external organisers and restaged events without counting the frequency of successive editions. But too much is too much! That’s why we’ve put in place a circuit-based model that is clearer, and importantly, in which events are more highly anticipated. An event needs to stand out and occur occasionally, otherwise it will lose its appeal. That said, the risk of event ‘overdose’ can easily be diluted in the mass of licences that are issued. Some operators have very well thought-through event planning strategies, such as TrackMania, for instance, who used the popular influencer ZeratoR to profile the TrackMania cup, an annual event that is eagerly awaited by a whole community, without having to flood the ecosystem with tournaments and events.
More and more right holders are turning to esports. What are your thoughts ?
I’m not sure about this, because they all focus on reproducing their sport as faithfully as possible. I’m not sure this is the right approach. Taking a closer look, the most successful games in esports are those that aren’t real-life re-enactments, and instead offer a form of evasion. In my opinion, FIA (the governing body of motorsport), for example, would be better off investing in a quirky automobile game like TrackMania to offer another image of car racing, rather than building its esports strategy around Formula 1, and thereby running the risk of either cannibalising its audiences or not appealing to its original fanbase that wants to watch sport in its traditional form. The same goes for the LFP (France’s Professional Football League) who, for several years, have been persisting with the e-Ligue 1. I’m not convinced that a fan who consumes ‘real’ football each week would want to watch two people play a football game against each other on a console.
The e-Ligue 1 is however useful for football clubs seeking to drive audience engagement.French teams can use this platform to manage their events and generate an audience in an original way. It’s an effective medium to create easy content digitally and even physically during Ligue 1 games. However, I still believe that a football club seeking to create an esports team is better off turning to a game that doesn’t mirror reality. I would recommend that clubs take inspiration from Captain Tsubasa, which will be released at the end of August.
What are the goals of Gosu Rabbit for the coming months?
We hope to close some deals, and especially hone our recruitment. Working with qualified collaborators is a real issue, because there are many passionate people but few competent ones!
Interviewer: Alexis Venifleis