Are esports fan engagement platforms worth your money?

Esports organizations are always seeking new ways to engage their audiences and fandom. The newest addition to the list are fan engagement platforms, offering anything from exclusive merch and giveaways to having an actual say in certain company operations. These “platforms” are either 3rd party companies that offer services to various partner organizations or in-house built apps and services for users to sign up to.

While the promise of exclusivity and having an actual say in the day to day running of your favorite teams sounds temping, most often then not the added fan bonuses are hardly worth the investment. Are esports fan engagement platforms worth your time?

Are esports fan engagement platforms worth your investment?

A new trend

Teams Envy and Cloud9 are the latest in a long list of esports organizations unveiling a paid membership and fan engagement service. EnvyUs unites Dallas Fuel, Dallas Empire, and of course Team Envy itself. Their service is intended to give die-hard fans a better platform to interact with their favourite teams. Cloud9 on the other hand just announced their own platform called Stratus, an annual membership services aimed at C9 superfans.

The idea behind this services is to reward players with exclusive merch, giveaways, and even opportunities to interact with players. At a glance, it seems like a cool idea to give fans a new way to interact with their favourite team… but it’s not that simple.

With multiple major esports teams launching their own and similar platforms now – including Team Liquid, F2K, Godsent, FlipSid3 Tactics and Team Queso – it’s easy to think this will be the next big thing in esports. While it’s too soon to say just how effective these new platforms are at really increasing voter engagement and pushing support from fans, there are some pretty obvious trends that indicate that this will be a flash in the pan at most.

The most obvious is the huge variety of platforms that is launching at the moment. Just last week, engagement platform Socios.com announced yet another partnership with an esports organization. Team Natus Vincere was the 3rd and latest addition to their own take on fan engagement. As part of that, they are even launching a cryptocurrency, and in addition to being able to purchase $NAVI tokens, holding those tokens will also enable you to drive and decide certain decisions the teams make. Details on what decisions those are have been sparse so far.

While Socios partnered with multiple teams for their platform, a fan of, say, Team Liquid, Team Envy, and Team Queso would have to download/use three separate new platforms and apps to engage with their teams. If you mistakenly support three different organizations like Dallas Fuel in Overwatch, Team Liquid in LoL, and OG in Dota2, it would mean you’d likely need to buy three different subscriptions or services to engage with your teams.

Then there is the question of appeal – while die-hard fans will no doubt enjoy the new platforms no matter what they offer, casual fans will struggle to find a reason to use them. Someone who likes to watch Dallas Fuel play in the OWL but doesn’t necessarily know all its players by name, probably won’t bother with the service at all.

The financial angle

Then there is the financial side – the teams that launch these platforms don’t necessarily do so just to hype fans up – it’s also to draw in new funding sources. OG, Natus Vincere for example launched their own cryptocurrency. The coins are available to buyers at a fixed price at first, and later the price is determined by supply and demand. The EnvyUs platform and Liquid+ on the other hand, are likely going for a subscription based service promising a huge “value added” by engaging with their platforms.

Although fan engagement is one of THE biggest driving factors when it comes to revenue, not all esports fans have an interest in cryptocurrency or niche apps. Even the ones that do, might not necessarily want to buy coins that will likely end up with their value closely tied to individual game and roster performances.

A fun fad

The idea of letting fans use their fan tokens to influence certain team decisions is an appealing prospect. Voting on things like uniform designs and minor decisions isn’t new – nor is it a bad thing! All that holds limited appeal however. If incidents like Boaty McBoatFace have taught us anything, it’s that letting the Internet decide things isn’t always a great idea.

For dedicated, die-hard fans, these platforms could be a great way of getting that little bit closer, but moderate fans would likely get turned off by having to get a new platform for each team that they support.

The actual quality of the platforms will also play a huge role in how well these new fan interaction platforms do. Organizations and teams that partner with existing platforms will have it easier, but teams like Liquid, EnvyUs or Virtus.pro launching their own standalone services will need to create huge value and an entire platform from scratch before they see any worth. We are not even mentioning the several new potential problems like downtime, technical difficulties, hacking, and more.

This could even end up backfiring for the teams themselves and upset fans – especially with money involved in the equation.

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The verdict

Are esports fan engagement platforms worth your time and money? Definitely not. Unless you are a very dedicated die hard fan that is.

We always tell the betting folk to seek out the best betting bonus and esports odds before committing to a service. When it comes to fan engagement platforms you should do the same. If there is enough of an incentive and value added for your commitment, go for it.

But from what I’ve seen so far, it is unlikely any of these platforms will offer the bang for your buck anytime soon.

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