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Working with football talent - it’s all fun and gaming

21 May 2020  |  Matthew Harrison 
Working with football talent - it’s all fun and gaming

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Matthew Harrison explores the central and influential role footballers (and other sportspeople) play in the gaming industry

The amount of time consumers are spending playing mobile and video games has increased by 35% since the start of the global pandemic, and the number continues to rise.

Professional football players and the gaming industry have naturally worked side by side over the years. Traditional publishers such as EA Sports and Konami have always led the way with their gaming titles, Fifa and Pro Evolution soccer respectively. Anticipation grows as we move through the summer months wondering which player will be on the front cover of the next version. Eden Hazard graces the current Fifa 2020 game.

EA Sports have ensured that football players join the conversation across launches, with social content, events and the endless debate about the players’ individual Fifa card stats. The stats are talked about amongst players more than anything else. “83 out of 100 for passing? I deserve more than that Fifa, come on!”.

But it’s not just football gaming titles that are working with players. Wider gaming publishers are realising that working with professional footballers can rapidly accelerate awareness, credibility, downloads and purchases through social activation. Football players are a powerful medium and hugely influential across social. Consumers are hungry to see more and more content of their favorite football player away from the pitch.

The global pandemic has caused a gaming frenzy. There has been a surge of new entries working with football talent though tournaments, head-to-head challenges and one-off games, in a bid to engage and inspire audiences and drive revenue to support the battle against COVID.

Some recent examples include Singapore-based publisher Garena and it’s mobile gaming title FreeFire, which the company announced recently has now over 80 million daily active users. Latope, an agency that works with a number of high-profile Latin American football talent, partnered with FreeFire in April to deliver a live charity head-to-head match between Real Madrid player James Rodriguéz and Napoli’s David Ospina.

The match was streamed live on FreeFire’s YouTube channel and supported through the player’s social channels to drive viewership. So far the match has had more than 1 million views. James Rodriguéz ultimately emerged victorious, although both players received a prize pool which was donated to their chosen charity.

Another example includes Warner Bros title Mortal Kombat. Latope worked with Mortal Kombat to help deliver a celebrity knockout tournament in association with United Nations Foundations to help “Kombat COVID”. The tournament, which had a donation page, was streamed live across Mortal Kombat’s Facebook Gaming channel and saw Tottenham player Erik Lamela go up first against RC Celta player Jeison Murillo. Lamela delivered the “FINISH HIM” as he moved through the rounds to the final where he lost to WWE Wrestler Xavier Woods.

With consumers’ thirst for content and gaming, football talent will continue to play a big role across numerous titles and gaming genres.

Matthew Harrison is co-founder of Latope Sports & Entertainment

Join Mediatel on 28 May for The Future of Gaming, a free lockdown event where we speak to the brands, tech platforms and agencies investing in gaming and esports to discover the potential of this new media channel.

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22 May 2020 

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