Matthew Jarvis argues that there is a gap in the market for more gaming-savvy retailers

BLOG: Retailers should bring their A-game to e-sports

More UK tech retailers should be paying attending to a growing consumer demand for e-sports – or risk missing out on a highly prospective market.

For the uninitiated, e-sports – or ‘electronic sports’ – is the professional and competitive playing of video games, and it has exploded in popularity over the past decade.

A far shout from the crammed basement LAN parties of the 90s, professional e-sports competitions are now worth big bucks – over $25 million (£15m) was dished out to the top players in 2013, with some of the largest tournaments worth millions of dollars alone – and with prize money increasing 350 per cent over the past four years (according to Razer), there’s little sign of the sector slowing.

So, given the catalytic power of pro-gaming and the recent news that PC gaming has surpassed gaming on consoles, why is it that so few UK outlets are taking full advantage of one of the hottest tech sectors today?

The opportunities are everywhere: from sponsorship of up-and-coming e-sports teams to hosting in-store competitions, it’s never been easier to join in with the fun.

It can even start with a single computer: clear a space in your store, install a neat-looking monitor and system and boot up a game.

The game can be almost anything, from triple-A scoreboard-based racing titles and frantic first-person shooters to fast-paced local multiplayer indie darlings like Divekick and Nidhogg, which are available for less than the price of a Costa coffee.

With minimal cost and effort, the installation will begin to increase footfall and time spent in-store – after all, who can pass up one quick game?

Other effective ways to embrace e-sports include offering pro-gaming peripherals, such as gaming headsets, macro-equipped keyboards and branded mice. The multitude of genres and audiences may seem daunting – but a little bit of research can pay dividends.

From there, sponsorship of local teams and in-store hosting of one-off tournaments becomes a natural step.

Partnership with professional players can provide critical feedback on products and ranges, while rows of glowing custom rigs can be the perfect showcase for your system-building services – and are much more likely to pull in customers than static shelves of dust-gathering boxes bereft of monitors and peripherals.

With UK events promoting e-sports for indies growing in stature – Exist2Game being a prime example of e-sports collaboration done right – there’s plenty of opportunity for more retailers and resellers to jump aboard the e-sports hype train and ride it all the way to success city – and there’s never been a better time than now.

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