The aptly named Nicecactus is nestled in the Sophia Antipolis valley near Nice, France — a tech cluster similar to Silicon Valley in San Francisco — along with companies like Huawei, IBM, Nvidia and Intel.
The platform recently announced the annual Monaco Gaming Show, though unsurprisingly the 2020 ‘warm-up’ edition will be held online, with the finals taking place today (December 18th) and concluding on December 19th.
Nicecactus was previously known as Esport-Management before rebranding after a €5m (~£4.47m) private funding round. This year, Nicecactus has agreed or renewed partnerships with GamersOrigin and G2 Esports, and in February acquired tournament platform Glory4Gamers. With more than 1.3m members, Nicecactus hopes to be the ‘all-in-one’ platform for gamers.
Esports Insider spoke with Gregory Bolle, Nicecactus Chief Revenue Officer as well as Alex Amoukteh, Nicecactus Co-founder to learn more about the brand’s vision and strategy.
Providing value for gamers and brands
For Bolle, the marriage of a strong value proposition for gamers with an inclusive platform — and an equally strong value proposition to partners with an enriching brand placement model — is the reason why he thinks Nicecactus is unique.
“Brand advertising and sponsorship strategies need to be completely overhauled to reach the next generation,” commented Bolle. “For them, it all depends on how the brand empowers them to play, how it helps them gain recognition and how it helps them share and brag about their achievements. These are the new consumer trends.”
“Today, the digital native market is at the heart of all corporate strategies,” said Amoukteh, Nicecactus Co-founder. “Generations Y, Z and even Alpha have broken all advertising codes and therefore the partnership and sponsorship models are no longer valid. The old days of television and print advertising are over. In other words, if football is the ultimate product of televised sport, then esports is the epitome of the magic combination of technology and the internet.”
Whilst it may seem exaggerated, Amoukteh is right: branded content, not simple advertising, is what new generations respond to. The ad-blocker generation is not responsive to yesterday’s methods.
Branded content is king (for one game-changing example, see SeatGeek’s marketing through influencer David Dobrik). We saw recently that Spotify decided to sponsor League of Legends esports events, rather than simply working with League of Legends the game (68 percent of LoL players watch competitive matches), suggesting that the chance to create valuable, unique branded content for LoL fans was prioritised.
Spotify created event-related activations in their own app to attract the ears of LoL esports fans, including podcasts such as the nine-part ‘Road to Worlds 2020’ series. It marks a shift: today’s consumer wants to interact with brands, and isn’t responsive to cookie-cutter brand placement.
Esports as advertisement
“The whole point of Nicecactus’ approach is based on the fact esports is the quintessential digital advertising channel by combining analytics, engagement, social media, play, streaming and so on,” commented Amoukteh. “Brands and corporations are still using old methods. Esports allows a new kind of sponsorship. It is more direct, more involved and more focused. For today’s generation, dialogue and interaction with the brand are essential.”
It is unsurprising, then, that Nicecactus emphasises this when working with brands. “Our content production is ideal for brands that want to transmit their message to our community,” Bolle added. “We support brands to optimise ROI and, above all, their legitimacy with the digital natives.”
The company recently worked with the Qatari government and its business partners to plan, host, and platform a customised esports tournament to attract the attention of the younger demographic. “Understanding the gamer community is essential in the esports industry,” Bolle said on the work in Qatar. “Our solutions provided a direct connection to a key audience. We created supporting marketing campaigns to ensure our partners’ messages were absorbed by the audience. Understanding the gamer community is essential in the esports industry.”
Nicecactus has also expanded its portfolio of partners recently. Bolle told Esports Insider: “This year we have signed contracts with RMC, Qatar Aspire, Al Nassr Club (KSA), Playzer, War Gaming, Crédit Agricole and Cap Gemini Sogeti to name a few. We appeared on the cover of Forbes in France. And we are launching the Monaco Gaming Show.” (The event begins this weekend.)
So far, the brand’s strategy has seen it strike impressive partnerships, secure millions of euros in investment, and attract millions of users to its platform. Bolle, Amoukteh and the rest of the Nicecactus team will be hoping for a smooth online event this weekend, and indeed for a smooth 2021.