In recent years, esports has become a global phenomenon, attracting millions of players and viewers around the world. As the popularity of esports continues to grow, it has also attracted the attention of businesses and investors. In particular, the rise of esports tournaments has given rise to an interesting trend: the growing involvement of technology companies and startups in competitive gaming.
Why do tech companies choose to compete in esports? And how does participating in tournaments influence their desire for growth? Explore the topic below.
Nikola Stolnik is the CEO and founder of Croatian esports to start up Good Game Global, whose main objective is to organize B2B esports events for the biggest technology companies in the Western Balkans region. He first thought of this esports tournament format while living in Ireland and working for Google at that time.
“On weekends we would gather at someone’s house, bring laptops and play StarCraft, CS:GO or Dota against each other. There would be five guys from Facebook and five guys from Google, and we would compete against each other. It was a lot of fun, so when I came back to Zagreb, I decided to organize such an event where companies would compete in the field of video games,” Stolnik told The Recursive.
After two years of hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the restrictions in place, Good Game finally managed to hold an in-person tournament earlier this month, called Good match Zagreb. The tournament brought together 32 teams made up of players from participating regional technology companies such as Infobip, NordéeEndava, Infinity, Span and many more. The event brought together more than 2,000 participants and had more than 60 matches in total.
Team building, networking and business development all in one
In addition to participating in the wildly popular Counter Strike: Global Offensive game, the tournament is also a way for employees of these companies to socialize, have fun and simply participate in a great team building activity, Stolnik says.
“All these companies want to be seen as fun and futuristic, and they want to attract top talent. And these talents can choose which company they want to work for – so companies really want to be attractive to their future and current employees. And being part of a Good Game event is one way to do that. So first of all, I would say it’s very good for employer branding,” he told The Recursive.
Then there is the unique and rather relaxed atmosphere of these tournaments which also appeals to these companies, explains the Croatian entrepreneur.
“I think it’s also a very good form of team building, networking and business development. At our events there are no sales, speeches or conferences where someone will offer their services to you. Here, people just play video games, cheer, wave flags and drink beers. And then you’ll see all these 1,000 or more people who are all passionate about something you’re passionate about, and you connect immediately,” says Stolnik.
Empowering Tech Employees to Enjoy What They Love to Do
In turn, this connection also allows tech employees to be themselves and simply enjoy what they love to do, which in this case is gaming, in an environment that is equally accepting.
“For example, a lot of these companies have a lot of 35-year-old employees who don’t really communicate their love of outdoor video games, they play alone at home. But when they see a hundred other 35-year-old product managers at different companies who also love video games, they immediately talk. And this is how friendship is formed. We also want to put these passionate players on stage, so everyone watches them and they feel appreciated,” Stolnik told The Recursive.
Added to this is an element of competition between companies, but seen in a rather playful way, as opposed to the stressful daily race for success, the pursuit of customers, profits, etc.
“Imagine these two software development companies constantly fighting over everything. And now they’re shooting each other on stage, and their employees are cheering them on! So it’s very important for them if they win, and until the end of the match it’s very stressful for both teams and for those watching. But that’s also where the excitement lies: they all feel important when they’re on the big stage and that’s basically the value they get from it,” says Stolnik, who is an avid gamer himself .
The experience of this year’s tournament has shown that technology companies are increasingly willing to support and be part of such events.
Croatia has also hosted esports events such as the “Hall of Game”, with the aim of gather players in competitive spaces. Neighboring Serbia also hosted a number of e-sport tournaments, illustrating an emerging trend for the region. So, will this be a trend that most tech companies will want to participate in? Stolnik certainly thinks so.
“This year, we sold our products in record time. We had 32 slots and 10 additional companies also wanted to participate. So I would say there is more and more interest in something like this, because it’s very unusual, there’s nothing like this in the world and I would really like to see this in many other countries,” he says, adding that there is already interest. to have similar events in China and Germany.
“My vision is that, perhaps, in three to five years, we would see headlines in the major business media saying “Five beats Google – not in revenue, but in CS:GO.” So that’s the idea we have in the long term,” concludes Stolnik.