News & Thinking

MRS Sports & Gaming Conference: 6 Takeaways from the Sports & Gaming world

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A cheering crowd in the stands at a sports game News 11 Aug

MTM Sport’s Archie Booth & Owen Robson attended (in-person!) the MRS Sports & Gaming Research 2022 Conference recently and have picked out 6 key themes that emerged from different talks on the day. To keep it fair we’ve picked 3 from sports and 3 from gaming!

1. Sporting bodies looking to reach new audiences

The organisations representing some of the UK’s most popular sports are looking to expand out of their heartland and attract new audiences who traditionally wouldn’t follow the sport. This includes the ECB launching a more accessible form of cricket through The Hundred, Sport England engaging more women in sport through This Girl Can or England Rugby building interest in women’s rugby in the lead up to the 2025 Women’s World Cup in England.

There’s a clear trend of organisations not wanting to rest on their laurels, instead recognising that in order to continue growing, they’re going to have to attract new audiences.

2. Sports fans want authentic & relevant brand partnerships

After a fantastic summer of sport we’ve all learnt one thing – sports fans are as passionate as they come, and they want the brands they use to mirror that passion. Sports fans have a keen eye for inauthentic displays of sports fandom and are sceptical of brands that attach themselves to sports events when it doesn’t feel like an authentic fit.

For brands looking to reap the rewards of sporting partnerships, 7Stars brought to light a few rules of thumb from their presentation; be relevant, be authentic and get involved!

3. TikTok has become the go-to platform for sports content

TikTok’s rise over the past few years has been meteoric, and sports content is fast becoming one of its most popular genres, according to one talk exploring trends in sport & gaming. It’s predicted that TikTok will soon overtake more traditional media platforms as the go-to for sports content. Interestingly, this is already the case for some sports clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, whose TikTok account now has over double the number of followers than its Twitter account.

It’s clear that sports teams, brands etc. must have TikTok at the heart of their digital content and fan engagement strategies, to maximise audience reach.

4. Will gaming offer NFTs a route into the mainstream?

NFT’s have captured widespread attention in the past few years, with mass investment & often unwanted negative headlines surrounding the digital asset. Importantly, a majority of people still don’t really understand what NFT’s are and why they’re in the spotlight. Could video games help NFT’s crack into the mainstream?

Video games could offer a route for NFTs to shift from a fringe collectible to a sought after mainstream asset. As highlighted in a presentation from Sega, video game companies currently have the highest trust in the entertainment sector as an NFT issuer, ahead of popular musicians, actors and social media influencers

5. Gaming positivity

The gaming sector has previously struggled with negative associations, such as encouraging social isolation. Over the past few years, this reputation has been flipped on its head, particularly among young audiences, who view gaming in a very different way.

Gaming is increasingly framed in a positive light, encouraging self-expression and social interactions. In GWI’s presentation on trends, they highlighted how gaming is now seen as an outlet to express creativity and as an opportunity to be part of a large & welcoming community, even resulting in long-lasting friendships.

6. Gaming subscriptions are the new normal

Could the days of buying physical copies of video games soon be over? According to research by Sega, gaming subscriptions are fast becoming the standard way to access video games, with Xbox’s Game Pass and Sony’s PlayStation Plus Premium being the two standouts.

Gaming subscription models are proving popular amongst gamers as they offer a much wider repertoire of games to ‘dip their toe into’ without having to commit to what can be a £60+ outlay for a new release.

Overall, the conference was a great experience and an amazing opportunity for the industry to come together and share insight. A huge thank you to the MRS for putting on the event and also to Ross Antrobus for being an excellent host on the day.

MTM is hosting its own gaming event in September and would love to hear from anyone interested in attending!!
Do you want to know what LGBTQ+ gamers think about how LGBTQ+ characters are currently represented, what Black gamers want from a narrative that represents them or how to land authenticity with non-cis gamers? Well, we’ve got you covered!

MTM is hosting an in-person event on diversity and representation in video games on Monday 19th September at Google’s London St Giles High Street Office.

If you’re interested in hearing more, please register your interest by clicking here.

Archie Booth
11th August 2022

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