“Face-to-face eSports events in Africa are more profitable for brands than online events”

(Ecofin Agency) – During the Electronics and Video Games Festival in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire (FEJA), we met Sidik Bakayoko, founder of Paradise Games, the organizer of the event. He will return to us at 6e publication of the competition and the prospects of eSports in Africa.

Agence Ecofin: Various competitions are coming to an end. What can you remember more than these 6?e editing?

Sidik Bakayoko: This edition is special because we have already passed the milestone of 5 editions, but then because of the number of registrants. We registered 1500 people in 15 different tournaments, not counting all those who came to watch the competition and accompany the players. Another important element of this publication is that we are supporting a video game in partnership with Visa called financial soccer, which aims to promote financial education through video game play.

It simply means that passion is the key element.

AE: Visa accompanies you at this event, but we notice the absence of one of your long-term partners, the telecommunications operator Orange. What’s going on ?

SB: Simply Covid-19. With a pandemic, you know there’s been a huge budget cut, and often the budgets that get cut in these situations are communications budgets. But the hardest part of the pandemic is behind us, we hope to find this partner who has been with us from the beginning in 2023.

“The prize money should be big enough, but passion is the key element. »

AE: So, despite the loss of the sponsor and the funds for FEJA, you were saying that the number of registrants was higher (this edition’s prizes are 1 million FCFA to be shared among the winners of each tournament, against three times the previous editions). What do you think this shows?

SB: It just means passion is the key element. Many people play because they are happy to participate in our tournaments, which they consider to be the main competitions in the subregion. It is an era where the competition offers a certain level of play that is broadcast on the internet and therefore watched everywhere. So I think passion is the key element. Prize money (tournament prize money; editor’s note) is good, but it’s not all, and I’m happy to see massive player participation. We hope that, despite everything, it is an important element for us to return to the prize levels of previous editions with more sponsorship. When we talk about eSports, the prize money should be big enough to allow people to live without loss or even travel for competitions. This will motivate them to give 150%.

AE: We’re seeing fewer brands associated with the event, but more players and spectators. To some extent, can we say that the communication potential, the audience, regarding FEJA has increased?

SB: Absolutely. We have achieved a very interesting result in terms of physical participation of players and spectators.

AE: Is it the same as an online presence?

SB: I don’t have the numbers yet, but do we have good hopes?

AE: You analyzed the increase in physical presence during publications. Have you noticed an evolution in people viewing the Internet?

SB: Yes, but it’s important to note that this is because our audience has access to more tournaments than we have consistently. Only FEJA has weekly challenges and other contests to keep our audience engaged. We used to only do FEJA, but with more meetings, people are becoming more involved in our broadcast platforms, such as our YouTube broadcasts (live webcasts; editor’s note).

AE: Are brands already interested in this audience?

SB: Not yet, to be honest, it’s still very weak. It will come when you have 50,000, 100,000 or a million subscribers.

“For now, physical eSports events in Africa remain more profitable for brands than online audiences. We see a lot of people face-to-face online is a bit slow.

AE: Does this mean that the monetization model for African eSports events is different from the Western model based on internet audiences and streams in particular?

SB: For now, physical eSports events in Africa remain more profitable for brands than online audiences. We see a lot of people face-to-face online is a bit slow. People come, don’t stay too long and disconnect. Internet traffic in Europe is so important that brands will naturally position themselves to capture this audience. But in Africa they are more interested in physical phenomena.

AE: At the same time, more and more governments are considering eSports as a digital education tool. Do you have any projects in this direction?

SB: Of course, and I think the cooperation with Visa is one example. It’s also worth noting that we allow young “casters” (eSports commentators; editor’s note) to develop their skills on our streams, providing more than theoretical training in connected ecosystems.

AE: Do you also have a show on RTI?

SB: We’ve made a lot of progress with that, and today all the recording and editing is handled internally. We strive to highlight local and African initiatives, while also covering international events such as Paris Games Week. The idea is to bring every activity in the sector to our channels.

AE: Television remains a very interesting medium for brands in Africa. Is your show able to attract brands?

SB: Not yet. Are we the ones who don’t have the right commercial arguments, or are they just not interested? We don’t really know, but we don’t currently have any advertisers. There was orange, but as we said, a lot has changed with the pandemic.

AE: What message do you want to send through this edition of FEJA?

SB: eSports is possible in Africa and we should support it. Brands should not wait for the numbers to explode to position themselves, because it will be too late. Now is the time to support actors doing concrete things and give them funds to rapidly develop the sector. If we leave the pioneers to their own devices with reduced capabilities, the development of the African eSports market may take 6 or 7 years, whereas with the right investments in the right initiatives, we can achieve impressive results in 6 months. Advertisers should approach eSports. If they are not comfortable with events with multiple sponsors, they can try to organize events where they are the only sponsor.

“Things are changing in eSports and the African continent must be ready to follow this dynamic. »

AE: These advertisers also expect a return on their investment. Do you think investing in eSports competitions is profitable for them to communicate?

SB: Not yet. It is advantageous in terms of image, but not yet financially. It is in this aspect that we event organizers should work to find profitable models for brands. But I think it’s a matter of time. A lot will happen in the next 9 months. When we see that the president in France recently hosted a hundred eSports players, we tell ourselves that something is starting to move and it will inevitably have a snowball effect. We feel that things are changing and the African continent must be prepared for this dynamic.

Servan Ahougnon

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