Riot Games is no stranger to brand partnerships, with over 50 brand partners across all of its regional leagues. They are looking to expand their horizons, however, and have recently announced that they will offer new in-game branding opportunities to their League of Legends esports brand partners.
The opportunities involve the game’s esports sponsors displaying their branding on in-game arena banners on the Summoner’s Rift map, which will be shown during official broadcasts.
The Head of Global Esports Partnerships at Riot Games, Naz Aletaha, stated in the release, “From our live events to our online broadcasts, we strive to define modern sports by continuously innovating how audiences experience League of Legends. For the first time in League history, SR Arena Banners put our partners’ brands directly on the field of play, creating an immersive experience that echoes the energy found in major sports arenas.”
The banners will be displayed during all official League of Legends esports leagues, starting with the upcoming Summer Split. Pro players will continue to only see the standard banners while competing in matches, so as not to distract them, but anyone viewing the broadcast will see the branding.
Mastercard and Alienware, which are both Global partners, are already confirmed to have taken the opportunity, with a picture of Mastercard’s banner already released by Riot.
Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, also commented on the new endeavour, saying, “Traditional marketing is evolving with more innovative ways to reach consumers. Mastercard was the first global partner of League of Legends esports because it connects with so many people around the world who are passionate about the game. This evolution continues to help us reach fans in contextually relevant ways, where they are doing the things they love most.”
Riot worked with Neilsen, one of the biggest research firms in the US, during the development process. The data analytics company stated that the in-game banners are some of “the most valuable media assets” in the League of Legends esports portfolio.
League may not be the only Riot project to get in-game advertising. The company has also expressed interest in displaying branding in Valorant, its popular new shooter. This may also set a trend in the wider esports scene, with games like Blizzard’s Overwatch, who have a number of brand partners and sponsorships, being likely candidates for the clever new advertisements.
The LCS Summer Split begins on June 12, and brings with it Riot’s newest method of integrating their brand partners with their esports.