Lessons from organizing online Esport tournaments chapter one
Kirjoittanut: Atte Westerberg - tiimistä Apaja.
At the winter of 2020-2021 we found ourselves reaching out for new projects at our Esports company. Our company was founded during the pandemic and we’ve been struggling with finding enough customers. Our business model mainly focused on services which we provided on site. So we started thinking about ways we could change our business model to be more profitable and ”pandemic proof”. Luckily at the time we were trying to crack this nut, a game called Call of Duty: Warzone presented a private match feature to the game. This meant that you could create your own lobby and be in charge about who gets to play. I’ve played CoD: Warzone before regularly and knew there was a huge player base for it here in Finland. So the natural choice was to create a tournament for the game, or at least give it a shot. In this essay I’m going to share some of the things in which we have succeeded and failed as online tournament organizers.
New organizers are hard to be trusted
As a new born company organizing a online tournament for the first time we came a across many users who thought we were pulling of a scam. I don’t blame them, because we were a new company, new organizer with a new product and asking for money. When we started marketing the tournament on different Facebook groups (which were made for Warzone and Call of Duty players in Finland) we came across some resistance. We made a post to the group wall and it got a lot of comments. The comments were mostly about users warning other users about a possible scam. Many were saying that ”don’t buy this tournament participation ticket! It’s a scam!”. After we saw this mass panic going down (with no evidence at all from the actual users that we indeed were pulling of a heist) we decided to open our mouths and tell everyone we actually were legit and robbers. But that made it even worse. The users who were calling us scammers had chosen their side on this matter and were not going to change teams. They started to criticize the tournament participation tickets prize (which was 5€ per participant) that it was too much because we would be making in their words ”too much profit from this”. Next we explained that we are a company with expenses to cover such as rent, salaries and the prize pool of the actual tournament. But they still thought that we shouldn’t be payed that much. At this point an admin from the group stepped up and said that ”If you don’t want to participate in this tournament then don’t.” And this made them silent at last. We faced resistance at almost in every marketing platform we were on, not just on Facebook. But I think the moral of this story is that when you are doing something new as a new player you will most likely face resistance or skepticism so be prepared. I think the best way to win the trust of others is open communication and respect towards each other (even if they are calling your mom with names).
Don’t be afraid to ask money
When you are planning a tournament you should also think about the financial side of things. How are we going to fund the prize pool, pay the rent and our salaries? We decided to charge 5€ per participant (15€ per team of three people) to make up for the expenses of organizing the tournament. As I mentioned in the last chapter for many people the 5€ for a change to win 150€ and have four hours worth of entertainment was not cool. But couple weeks later we had total number of 66 tournament participants, and in next tournament we had 78 and in the next one after that 96. The money was not the issue for the participants and it meant that they would be more committed to actually show up.
Communication is the key
Open communication is the backbone of every healthy relationship. The same thing applies in communication between a company and customers. We decided to use Discord as a communication platform regarding these tournaments. It is very important to have a communication platform for your customers where they can easily be in touch with the whole community (other customers) and the organizers. Active and open communication between us and the customers only helps to forge that relationship even stronger. When the customers feel like they can be a part of the development they feel more committed to the product and the company. If there are companies out there who are not listening to the customers ideas about the future development of their product they are at huge disadvantage, because the customers who use the product actually know the best about it. The lesson here is that have some sort of communication platform where you and your customers can take part in the future of the product or service.
Tomakh, A. 2019. How to Organise an Esports Event. Article. https://www.gevme.com/en/organise-esports-event/