As League Of Legends heads into its World Championship season, developer Riot Games said that interest in corporate partnerships around the game is at an all-time high.
Naz Aletaha, head of global partnerships at Riot Games, said that there has been an “influx of interest from world-class and globally recognized brands at both the global and regional level.”
Last month, Riot Games expanded its relationship with Mastercard, signing a multi-year deal with the brand with it becoming the exclusive financial services partner of the League of Legends Championship Series in North America. Mastercard last August signed a multi-year deal with Riot Games, becoming the first global sponsor of LoL.
On September 23, Riot Games secured its second non-endemic global partner, signing a multi-year deal with Louis Vuitton that will see the French fashion house create a trophy case for the Summoner’s Cup, as well as create other fashion integrations both in the game and on the runway with an exclusive capsule collection. It also has global partnerships with Dell-Alienware and Secretlab.
That has been supported by a series of regional deals for League of Legends properties in recent months, highlighted by Nike’s deal to sponsor the LPL, the top Chinese league. Other regional deals internationally including Kia in Europe and Gillette in Brazil.
In North America, Aletaha said there has been steady growth both in terms of partnerships as well as the game’s reach into popular culture.
On this season of the HBO show Ballers, there has been a story arc dedicated to League of Legends. Riot Games worked with the show’s producers on the scenes, which were filmed at the company’s Los Angeles campus and feature some of the game’s top players. Netflix’s 7 Days Out series also featured the League of Legends North American Championship Series, while an episode of The Simpsons also touched on League of Legends.
“We think this really goes to show the impact that the game has had,” Aletaha said.
Several non-endemic brands have partnered with the North American event thus far, including State Farm, which extended its partnership through 2021 and is now the presenting sponsor of the League of Legends College Championship.
Other brands that have signed deals with Riot Games include Rocket Mortgage, while Dr. Pepper, Puma, BMW, AT&T, Honda, Monster Energy, and Nissan are among the non-endemic brands partnering with specific LCS teams.
Helping Riot Games’ pitch to brands, in general, has been its partnership with Nielsen that it signed in June. Nielsen now does a comprehensive sponsorship valuation measurement across Riot’s leagues and competitions globally, helping it showcase the monetary value of the exposure it’s providing.
“Our existing partners have reacted positively about this, as it has given them third-party data that helps us collectively integrate those partnerships better,” Aletaha said. “For potential clients, the standardization of viewership metrics has been a critical need for the industry, and now allows us to easily compare what we’re doing to traditional sports or what you might see at linear.”
Aletaha declined to comment on year-over-year partnership growth but noted that as more game developers find success in esports, more brands are recognizing the value in gaming and in speaking to the millions of collective fans across the globe.
While no additional deals may be announced prior to this year’s season culminating on November 10 with the League of Legends World Championship final, Aletaha said she’s hopeful more will be inked in the coming months.
“I think the bottom line is that the market is now seeing that gaming is not niche and that the gaming audience is as big or maybe even bigger than some of those other audiences that they’re going after in other sports,” Aletaha said.