Within a year of its launch in 2017, Fortnite had attracted 125 million players. Fortnite is just one of many online games that have become popular in the past few years- what it is that caused this surge in popularity for online gaming?

Professional gamer and founder of Singapore gaming group Team Flash, Terence Ting, believes that games like Fortnite, Dota and League of Legends are successful because of their ability to create community online:

These games now have entire ecosystems. They’ve created job opportunities for gamers as well as the people and infrastructure supporting their professional careers.

ESports competitions are one of highest revenue drivers in the gaming industry. There are even teams for competitive gaming, and many gaming teams sell merchandise such as team jerseys and controllers.

The Evolution of Gaming: Online Streaming

There are also entire YouTube channels devoted to watching pro gamers play games, which has been a huge contributor to the rise of gaming as a spectator sport. Yasser Bin Ismail, the senior strategy director at Essence, describes:

Popular streamers have millions of views daily from gamers all over the world.

 The best Fortnite player in the world, Ninja, not only sells out events across the world – he even does streams with celebrities such as Drake.

This year’s Asian Games, where most of the competitors display their physical strength in swimming, running and other sports, broke from tradition by featuring eSports as a demonstration sport. But don’t expect to see gaming at the Olympics any time soon- the International Olympics Committee believes that eSports conflict with Olympic values.

However, even though the Olympic Committee pooh-poohs the idea of gaming as a sport, that doesn’t mean it won’t continue to grow in popularity as a spectator sport. Gaming developers are working to expand competitive gaming into conferences and competitions so it can have a greater presence in the “real world.”

Create Community Online

Regardless of whether a company is in the gaming sector, there’s a central lesson for companies of any industry to take away from rise of online gaming: cultivate community. No matter your mission or product, you have the opportunity to connect people as well as connect with people.

Community-building is an important part of successful marketing today. This entails creating a culture for conversation instead of broadcasting, providing resources instead of selling, and an open community space instead of owned media channels.

Create a space where people can share diverse opinions, have fruitful discussions and find inspiration. This space might be as simple as a hashtag that serves to unite community members, or as complex as a Slack or Facebook at Work group for brand ambassadors. Consider establishing a guiding philosophy, a statement or persona that will keep everyone working towards a common goals. As long as people feel open to communicating, you’ll find them more willing to participate. What follows will be a greater connection between community members and both you and your brand.