Disclaimer: This is a guest piece from Patrick Mahoney, CEO of We Are Nations
As I am sure is the case with you all, the reality of coronavirus really sank in last week. Infection rates, especially in Europe, accelerated. Then the markets tumbled, events of all kinds were cancelled, and social distancing became the new norm. In the span of 72 hours, our world was rocked to the core.
I’m neither a medical doctor nor a politician, so I am not here to give out medical advice or narrate on policy. But I am a member of the esports community, which is being affected by this crisis just like everyone else. And while we all must say focused on the humanitarian aspects of the challenges that lie ahead, we also owe ourselves, our employees, our stakeholders, our customers, and our fans, the best esports product we can deliver during these challenging times.
It is absolutely OK to find the silver lining in any cloud and also understand how disruptions can lead to opportunity. We are already seeing this – since late last week the esports chatter on Twitter and LinkedIn has recognised that closed schools have put kids online at all hours of the day. Steam beat its concurrent users record last week. Leagues like Overwatch League and Call of Duty League are preparing to move their schedules online. The show will go on. We are a resilient bunch. We will find our “new normal” for the time being and emerge out the other side of this stronger and hopefully closer as a community.
As many of you might know, We Are Nations is a merchandise company. That means that merchandising at events is a big part of our business. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t concerned about the temporary loss of this business. But like I said above, disruption leads to opportunity and we started this week with internal discussions on how we can make up this business. There will be a lot of focus on working with our team, league, and brand partners to push the envelope of e-commerce even farther. For example, now is a perfect time to use the platform to create social interaction through contests and other calls to action for two-way customer engagement on social media. Putting collections of teams together for retail is something that we have been working on this year, and the recent uptick in online sales for our retail partners, coupled with a captive customer base looking to be engaged has seen these discussions heat up as of last week.
These are uneasy times. As you all are with your families and friends, I’m worried about the health of my mom, my wife’s parents, and friends that have pre-existing conditions. And past that, no one really likes staring into the unknown. But I must admit I’m also excited as to what esports can do over the coming months and how Nations will be a part of it. So I’ve asked Sam [Cooke, Managing Director and Co-founder of Esports Insider] and Adam [Fitch, Editor of Esports Insider] if I can check in a few times a week with a blog post. Hopefully some of the things we are doing will inspire people, because we are still at the point in esports where the sum is just as critical as the parts.
Let’s get going.