Italy is the first-ever country to attend Esports BAR, the world’s leading B2B international trade event dedicated to the global competitive-gaming industry and related sectors, as a national delegation.
Taking place during 13-15 October 2021, Esports BAR will welcome the Italian delegation, which has come together with landmark government support, to put the national esports industry on the world’s stage in the French Riviera city of Cannes.
The delegation, organised by the Italian Interactive Digital Entertainment Association (IIDEA), the national games-industry trade body, will comprise esports teams, organisations, tournament-and-event organisers, service providers, talent and marketing agencies, grassroots organisations, and more. Their common goal: to network and expand their business Europe-wide and internationally.
Their presence at Esports BAR marks a crucial turning point in Italy’s esports business growth and evolution. And the industry’s expansion within the home market as well as Europewide is supported by a series of authoritative studies examining the state of esports and gaming in Italy.
Why Italian esports rocks
Deloitte’s Let’s Play! 2020 report, produced jointly with the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (which represents the European gaming sector’s key stakeholders) and Game, the German games-industry association, confirms the buoyancy and vibrancy of the Italian esports business.
Published last year, the report noted that Italians are among the most devoted esports fans in Europe. Of the 12,000 European consumers interviewed, 38% said they had watched esports before. Spain and Italy topped that list. More than half of those questioned in those two countries, 55% and 53% respectively, stated they had watched esports before.
Spain and Italy also accounted for the highest share of fans per country (more than 20%) who watched esports matches at least once a week when compared to number of regular viewers. Moreover, Spain and Italy led the charge in Europe when it came to the share of consumers who were happy to pay for esports content.
The Deloitte Let’s Play findings are supported by another study called Italian Esports Report, which was jointly published by IIDEA and market-research giant Nielsen this year. It showed that 475,000 Italians are avid esports fans who follow competitive-gaming events and news daily; the number shot up to 1.62 million fans who follow esports events several times a week, a 15% increase compared to 2020.
The Italian Esports Report is packed with more granular data, such as the fact that Italian esports enthusiasts spend an average of €40 every month each on esports-related items and events, shooting up to €64 a month each for avid fans.
Meanwhile, marketers would be happy to learn that a massive 74% of general esports fans interviewed had no issues with sponsorships, rising to 83% of avid fans.
This expanding demand for esports entertainment is underpinned by a thriving gaming sector, according to a recent joint IIDEA-IDG Consulting survey. It reported that, from 2018 to 2021, Italy boasted a 45% growth rate when it comes to the number of game developers and studios doing business in Italy.
Levelling up with government
There are also signs that the Italian government foresees esports as a major contributor to the country’s future economy.
The participation of the Italian delegation at Esports BAR is supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and the Italian Trade Agency.
As IIDEA says in a statement: “This is the first initiative where the Italian government decided to provide its support to the internationalisation of the Italian esports industry and is an example of the growing attention the Italian government is giving more, in general, to the video games sector in Italy, as they continue to grow.”
Indeed, the country’s Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Economic Development have announced plans to offer tax breaks to investors in the gaming sector, the type of governmental incentives that have benefited the movie industries in Italy and several countries worldwide.
And the economic development ministry has also launched a fund dedicated to supporting video-game developers needing assistance to get their prototypes off the ground.
Italian esports hits news headlines
As the Italian delegates prepare to mix and mingle at Esports BAR, it is worth noting the major esports developments, at all levels, recently announced in the media.
This year, 19-year-old Riccardo ‘Reynor’ Romiti, a member of Italy’s Team QLASH, entered the history books of esports. He became the first player outside of South Korea to win the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, one of the world’s biggest tournaments, based around the StarCraft game.
Italian esports has equally attracted the attention of international investors. Rome-based Mkers SpA became the first Italian esports organisation to list as a joint stock company with future ambitions to float on the stock exchange.
Canadian venture-capital firm Playground Ventures is nabbing up to 60% of GG Hub Srl (Good Game Hub), an Italian-originated pan-European gaming-media company, to be a founding investor.
Italian icons invest in esports
Christian Vieri and Bernardo Corradi, two of Italy’s most famous soccer players, have launched PLB, a talent agency specialising in educating and developing the skills of young people seeking a career in the competitive-gaming world.
Stefy Bau, winner of seven Italian Championships and three Women’s World Championships in the competitive sport of motocross, co-founded Init Esports, a women-led esports agency focusing on diversity, equality and inclusion.
Meanwhile, some of the most innovative esports-sponsorship deals have had global Italian brands at the forefront. The Ferrari Esports Series tournament is a very popular event in the esports calendar year. Cool winning prizes have included the opportunity to drive a real Ferrari on a physical racing track.
Ultra-luxury brand owner Gucci hooked up with UK esports organisation Fnatic to create a limited-edition series of the exclusive FNATIC X Gucci dive watches, which are worth US$1,600 each. Launched only in June this year, the 100 watches are already sold out.
Do esports business in Italy
The IIDEA-hosted Italian delegation will be seeking potential international business deal and partnerships at Esports BAR. Here is the roll call of some of the companies to look out for:
- Dive Esports: https://diveesports.com/
- Esportsblock à Nubbles
- Exeed: https://www.instagram.com/exeed_official/?hl=it
- GG Hub: not official channels yet
- Axolotl: https://axolotl.gg/
- QLASH: https://qlash.gg/
- Lunar Great Wall Studios: https://racewardstudio.com/
- Outplayed: https://www.outplayed.it/
- PG Esports: https://pge.gg/ (will be online on October 4th)
- PLB Esports: https://www.instagram.com/plb_esports/?hl=it
- Pro2Be Esports: https://www.pro2be.it/
- ProGaming: https://www.linkedin.com/company/progamingitalia/?originalSubdomain=it
- Reply Totem: https://replytotem.com/
- MCES Italia: https://www.mcesitaliaesport.it/