[Interview] How a popular Swiss esports agency turned event cancellations into digital engagement

The cancellation of all live events left people from all around the world in a void. With the real world turned upside down and more people turning to digital, sports clubs and brands are looking to esports to keep their fans engaged

Right now is the ideal time to get involved. While esports has been growing explosively over the past few years, millions of new people have just recently gotten to know the industry during the lockdown. With new fans comes a new appeal, especially for sponsors and rights deals. With the lack of exposure and live content at the moment, could esports be a solution for fan engagement?

We spoke with Tobias Egartner, the CEO of the Swiss esports agency eStudios who is committed to taking esports to the next level in Switzerland. He told us about their goals, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and how they are going full digital using StriveCloud as a platform solution.

Can you tell us a bit more about eStudios and what you do?


T.E.: eStudios is a 360 degrees esports agency that works on every aspect a brand needs to go into esports and gaming. We consult companies to enter the section, organize live or offline events, and do content production. We also have our own gaming community called GameTurnier where people can compete in video games and train to become a professional player while brands can advertise to the esports target group.

Gameturner gaming community

How did you handle the outbreak? What are the implications?

T.E.: Since Corona, our focus has shifted a bit due to all events moving online. We do more live production such as the hockey e-Playoffs, Swiss Football League, and professional FIFA matches. Lastly, we do lots of content production for big tv stations right now. With no football matches, they are looking into the opportunity of esports to fill the vacuum. Right now esports is the professional playing of sports, and this will continue after the Corona crisis.

E-sports, both teams take place against eachother and sit opposite to eachother.

What’s your mission as an esports agency?

T.E.: Gaming is becoming more and more present in the broader community. It’s no longer just a ‘nerd’ thing. One in three Swiss people plays at least one game. It can be Candy Crush on mobile or other games like FIFA. Esports, the professional playing of video games has been on a rise for a while although Corona just moved it forward faster. Now esports has a bigger role in the interest of fans. It will not replace traditional sports but it will play a more important role in brand activation towards younger audiences especially.

What are you trying to achieve in the world of esports?

T.E.: Esports is moving forward faster and it’s on top of minds of fans, especially for younger generations. However, in Switzerland, the structure is still missing for pro teams to flourish. They have questions about how to participate in tournaments and what they need to do to get better. In the USA or Japan for example the market is way more advanced. At eStudios we want to act as an ecosystem both for fans and hobbyists, as well as for aspiring pro players to train, grow, and have fun.

E-sports, blue team set-up

What is your vision about the future of online competitions under the pandemic outbreak?

T.E.: We focus on building a more professional structure to support more players into becoming professional e-athletes. Corona moved the behavior online and the cancellation of live events brings awareness to esports. However, the market, in general, is not progressing in Switzerland. Esports is gaining awareness now that all live sports events are postponed or canceled. They will not replace traditional sports although they will take a more prominent position in the mind of fans and sports organizations.

Do you see this as a long-term trend?

T.E.: The challenge is how to build up an interesting sport for each market. Some markets are more evolved than others. Looking at Europe, esports it’s no longer a trend. It has been around for over five years but how it’s going to proceed in each direction will dictate the further growth of esports. While Corona helped to get esports on top of mind we are still figuring out how to grow our over 440,000 current esports fans in Switzerland.

What challenges were you facing that made you look for a platform like StriveCloud?

T.E.: GameTurnier has its largest player community in FIFA. Every community is different in behavior on the platform. Before we worked with StriveCloud we got a lot of complaints from our community. It was disappointing to see our FIFA players unhappy with the situation of online tournaments. 

It was clear our users needed a platform for FIFA behavior. The behavioral design approach from StriveCloud simply worked, even though it might sometimes be in the small things.

Why did you decide to work with StriveCloud?

T.E.: Everything about the partnership was right. The mutual understanding, the price, and the culture made it easy to work together. StriveCloud thinks in solutions instead of problems, the language barrier on the platform, for example, was swiftly provided with translations.

How does your engagement platform fit in your business?

T.E.: Right now it’s the main focus of our business because everything is digital. We wanted to build a community for fans to connect with esports athletes or become pro themselves. Employees who were normally working on tons of events all day are now on StriveCloud. The motivation and interest within the company show that this is a great product. Employees want to try out organizing tournaments and teams say they want to organize their own cup.

What benefits have you seen since the launch?

T.E.: It has been easier to build partnerships with brands due to the possibilities we can offer with the platform. The B2B part is really important in the growth of esports. What if more brands want to have their own Swiss Pro League platform?

E-football cup; #playersonlycup, brought by welovefootball.ch, blick and teleclub

T.E.: Additionally, the possibility to implement the platform for other campaigns. We can now build white-label platforms while still building up the community on GameTurnier. StriveCloud allows us to handle our own platform and those of partners at the same time.

What have you learned from working with StriveCloud?

T.E.: On a knowledge level, we already matched with our thoughts and needs. It was a good match in how people interact with each other especially during these stressful times. We are really good at organizing FIFA competitions while StriveCloud is really good at making the platform work for the community.

What would you say to other businesses facing the same challenges as you did?

T.E.: It’s important to understand the needs and challenges of your target group and fan base. It doesn’t matter how big the obstacle if the challenge is a specific button, take it seriously even if it’s as simple as changing a word to make the experience less confusing.

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