Over the course of the last two decades, athletes have been finding their love for video games. If you ask them why they enjoy them so much, they will likely give you one of two answers.
The first is the competitive element that likely also drew them to sports. The second is the escapist aspect. Video games offer people the opportunity to jump into a different world, if only for a bit, and do things they could never do otherwise.
Combining these two elements were at the core of why Brian Wilneff found a love for gaming and went on to start GamerzArena. A multi-sport athlete growing up, Wilneff greatly enjoyed the social aspect of gaming in his free time. To this day, you can find Wilneff playing games like “Fortnite” with friends on a regular basis.
In college, Wilneff hit his stride as a “Call of Duty” player and began to seek out opportunities to play competitively for money. A few websites that allowed players to do such a thing existed, but Wilneff noticed the process of getting players registered, matched up, and paid out needed work.
After years of research, Wilneff partnered with Chicago-based VAULT Innovation to make GamerzArena a reality.
On some other competitive video game sites, players have to go through a registration process, already be ranked, or be able to capture and edit their own gaming footage in order to participate in contests. GamerzArena has been able to trim the fat from this process through Twitch integration. Users just have to have a Twitch channel and then sign up for a contest on the GamerzArena website while streaming. GamerzArena then automatically takes the video from the stream as the players’ entry for that contest.
After 7 hours &400+ people, 11th place JUST outside the top 10. Amazing $5,000 tourney by @GamerzArena &so happy you watched me @GernaderJake. Next time I wont come up short👀
Gg’s @MuklyfeMarshall @imsiccwidit
Love this game and its community. Thank you for the support today pic.twitter.com/edEUr3vMMV
— Royals #1K (@GioRoyals) August 13, 2018
Just as people don’t have to be professional athletes to enjoy playing competitive sports, video game players do not have to be professionals to enjoy playing competitively. This thought is at the heart of what GamerzArena wants to offer users.
“A very small percentage of people get to be professional video game players,” said Wilneff. “At a competitive level, that means that everybody does not get to do it at all. What I was looking to do was give regular people the chance to do this at any skill level. Whether they are beginner, moderate or advanced or whatever, we want people to have that everyday opportunity since playing video games is a true escape for people after work. The goal here is to be inclusive of everybody that wants to be involved with it.”
Most contests on GamerzArena are set up in a leaderboard format instead of head-to-head competitions. This takes away one of the major headaches from a logistical perspective for both the players and the company. Recently, GamerzArena have capitalized on the recent trend of professional athletes becoming more involved in competitive gaming by bringing in athletes like A.J. Green and Dion Waiters as brand ambassadors.
— GamerzArena (@GamerzArena) November 29, 2018
Athletes will host their own tournaments for games like “Call of Duty” or “Fortnite” in which fans can indirectly compete against them. According to Wilneff, this opens a whole new avenue of fan engagement for the athletes.
“Professional athletes don’t just train, eat, and workout,” he says. “They have lives outside of their sport and this is a great way to give them visibility, ways to interact with their fans while doing something they enjoy and building their presence on Twitch. If they take the time to talk with fans participating in their Twitch chat or shout them out on Twitter, it makes the fans’ day.”
Brands can also take advantage of hosting tournaments through GamerzArena to grow their communities and increase their Twitch audience. The company recently ran a seven-day “Fortnite” tournament for Barstool Sports. The tournament helped grow its overall Twitch presence by a total of 15 percent in a seven-day period.
Getting high-profile athletes and organizations involved in this also can provide benefits to video game publishers, who themselves try to bring in celebrity endorsers to hype their games. With projects like what GamerzArena is doing, some of the work on the marketing side is already done for them.
“We provide value to the video game studios and publishers out there for the game titles because they greatly benefit from having people streaming their games on Twitch or any other platform because the visibility of that game helps them with their sales and grows the community for that game. ‘Fortnite’ is so big in part because everybody is tweeting out their clips or streaming it. That ties into how we can facilitate this for brands.”
It’s not completely correct to say that gaming is just now on the rise — it’s been on the rise since the mid-1980s. Only now, however, are brands beginning to see the marketing and community capabilities that video games can offer. Furthermore, as the tech keeps evolving, people are going to keep seeking out the competitive outlet that video games offer.
GamerzArena is clearly leading the charge on both those fronts.