As Co-Founder and CCO at video gaming entertainment network Ampverse, I wanted to share some of the most interesting discussions with top leaders about gaming, what’s trending, who’s doing great stuff, and the massive potential it has in the coming years. This is the idea behind our new interview series, “Ampverse presents: Game Changers”.
My first guest is Michael Patent, Founder and CEO at Culture Group. Michael’s background is a blend of real estate, sport, entertainment, and media. He was Vice President, Partnerships at AEG, a role that took him to Asia.
There Michael realised brands were missing out on these amazing ideas and opportunities, leading him to found Culture Group and help Asian brands form the right commercial partnerships to connect with the huge wave of Asian gamers.
Gaming lies at the heart of knowledge, passion and culture. Most of us started out in more traditional gaming and influencer activations, but the vision of where we want to go is towards that intersection.
Michael said, “We went to Riot Games, one of our earliest clients in mainland China, with an idea of how we could take the passion that existed for League of Legends, and develop that into a commercial opportunity and a way for people to celebrate it, much in the way that you and I might celebrate football or basketball.”
“That led to a partnership with Nike, an amazing long-term partnership, very much first of its kind,” he continued.
This gave Michael the confidence to know that his agency was in the right place at the intersection of entertainment and esports, and more importantly helping to shepherd brands through the process of seeing an opportunity and making it a reality.
At Ampverse, we see ourselves as a content-first business. That's the heart of what we're trying to do, we want to build more of our own content solutions. But in terms of that intersection, how do we build credible content that talks to the core but crosses over into the mainstream?
“Mainstream is a critical concept because what’s new to marketers, is probably mainstream to the consumers,” explained Michael.
“First of all education is the foundation, then we have to inspire them to be the first person to make that move. While we're in an incredibly fast-moving space, brands oftentimes don't recognize that gaming culture is also mainstream.”
There is content that is singular in nature, which features one personality. And then there is content that includes multiple personalities. That interplay between multiple personalities is what makes it very special.
“Looking at the people and companies that have been most successful in the last two years, it's the ones that have integrated between multiple personalities to build a community that's larger than what one person might create. That's what drives a lot of the influence,” said Michael.
We drew parallels between gaming and our other passions.
“Using music as an example, what a lot of people really love is seeing their favourites in the studio. They want to see them creating their art,” he explained.
“The NBA does really well during the season, but the athletes are just as culturally relevant in July during offseason, or when these guys are on their summer trips, it's that behind-the-scenes lifestyle type of content that we all seek.”
The nature of gaming content, watching somebody at their craft, lends a very intimate experience to the audience. You're picking up on the inside jokes, the emotion, their raw thoughts and feeling, and it's all unedited and a very unique form of content.
A consumer today is used to having a direct relationship with the creator. While there might be 400,000 people currently watching that stream, because they watch that person four days a week, they feel like they have personal relationships. They know the inside jokes and the slang.
Culture Group has some exciting projects in the pipeline. “We're going to be focused more on fashion, music and sustainability, and infusing those into some of the work we do in games and esports, rather than being a pure-play games agency,” Michael said.
“Our clients are tapping into our knowledge and ability to focus on a cultural passion point or an area of purpose, to understand it, to educate, and to lead that brand into the market. Those are the guiding principles that sit at the foundation of what we do.”