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Designing the Halo Esports Ecosystem

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Welcome back! This is the fourth installment in our blog series, Designing the Halo Esports Ecosystem. The goal of this blog series is to detail how we are working to develop a healthy and sustainable ecosystem for Halo esports. If you’re interested in our philosophical approach to esports as a fan, player, team, tournament organizer, or sponsor, then this blog series is for you! If you’re hoping to learn specifics about format and roadmap, stay tuned -- more info will be released as we get closer to the launch of Halo Infinite.

If you’re new to the series and want to get caught up, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. You can read the first three installments here:

So today we’re going to talk about sponsors!

Tashi, are you serious? Are we really talking about sponsors today?

Yes we are! Why? Because sponsors in the ecosystem are critical. They’re a key component that impacts everyone from fans to players to teams and everyone in-between.

Ok, let’s get into it!

WHY ARE SPONSORS IMPORTANT?

If you’re a team or tournament organizer, or even a developer/publisher like us, you’re investing a significant amount of money when you’re participating in esports. For example, as a team, you’ve got to pay players, coaches, managers, other support staff, and potentially more for things like team houses and facilities. Ultimately, each team needs to evaluate if the value they’re getting from being part of an esport is worth that investment. So as a team (or tournament organizer), how are you able to make money to ensure you can continue to participate in esports? One of the main ways esports organizations generate revenue is through sponsorship, and as the architects of the Halo ecosystem, we are actively trying to make it easier for teams, tournament organizers, and others to deliver value to their sponsors. To be extra clear, the ecosystem does not work without sponsors.

OUR APPROACH

For Halo esports, we think about sponsors primarily in four different ways:

  1. How can we secure our own sponsorship for the HCS to help offset costs of operating the league? (Staff, league events, paying tournament operators, etc)
  2. How can Halo help the people investing in the ecosystem (teams, tournament operators, etc) provide value to their sponsors?
  3. How can we connect the dots between sponsors and those investing in the ecosystem?
  4. How can sponsors provide value to fans and players?

So let’s get into it!

  1. Generating revenue for 343 Industries is not the core reason why the HCS exists or why we decided to invest in Halo esports. As mentioned in the first ecosystem blog, we want to provide epic entertainment to Halo fans around the world and we want to keep Halo fans interested in playing as well as watching. At the same time, therefore, we need to operate a responsible and sustainable ecosystem that can last for years and years. In terms of revenue, sponsors are one of the ways that we are helping create a sustainable ecosystem. Sometimes we reach out to sponsors to strike a deal, and sometimes sponsors reach out to us to strike a deal because they’re excited about the league and Halo Infinite.
  2. We understand that sponsors are super critical for teams and tournament organizers, and even though those sponsors might not be directly sponsoring the HCS league, we still want to help where we can. Let's take teams for example. Teams provide value to sponsors by fielding a roster in a game that has strong viewership, creating video and other social content, etc., and it all helps build awareness for the team’s sponsors. The way we see it, the more we can help teams provide value to their sponsors, the more teams can continue to invest in Halo. So, for example, partnered teams will have the option to place their own sponsors’ logos in certain graphics during our official Halo Infinite HCS broadcasts. Why is this helpful? Because now a team can go to their sponsors and say, “here’s the extra value that we’re providing to you.” It’s great for sponsors, it’s great for teams, and it’s great for the league, too. This also has an impact on players and fans: as more teams are able to sustain long-term participation in Halo, they in turn can keep salaried players on their rosters and can continue to produce entertainment and value for fans. It's all interconnected.
  3. We also want to help connect sponsors with the others in the ecosystem (teams, tournament operators, etc), as well as see where there might already be overlap in terms of sponsorship. For example, if a tournament operator already has a partnership with a sponsor, and we’re also interested in working with that sponsor, then it ends up being a great opportunity for extra collaboration with all three parties working together. This is just a small example of the “1 + 1 = 3” philosophy that is so important.
  4. Lastly, working with sponsors for us is not about sticking a logo on a graphic and calling it good. It’s important to us that our sponsors are driving real value to fans and players, at our live events as well as online. For example, to deliver a great in-person experience, we want to partner with a monitor manufacturer that makes high quality hardware that players onsite will have a great competitive experience on. For other sponsors, we may want to create customized video content that we air on the broadcast and on social media that will entertain fans. This is a critical component to how we work with sponsors and we think sponsors appreciate that approach as well.

CONCLUSION

We hope this blog painted a picture of why sponsors are so critical and how we are approaching working with sponsors. The examples today predominantly touched on teams and tournament organizers, but you can extrapolate the approach and philosophy to pro players and content creators as well.

As always, we are interested to hear what folks think, so feel free to send any comments on Twitter as well.

Until next time,

Tashi

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