Gaming has evolved into a global phenomenon. Yes, its revenues are now bigger than the movie and music industries combined, and competitive gaming — esports — has morphed into a full-fledged global spectacle that rivals, and even dwarfs, many traditional sports.
The passion for esports is undeniable, transcending age, gender, race and culture. In fact, an incredible 90% of Gen Z are gaming enthusiasts.
Today, we are excited to announce that Mastercard is extending our support of esports and building on the success of our League of Legends esports sponsorship with the addition of Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) – the fastest growing esport in the world.
This sponsorship builds on our long-term relationship with Riot Games, publisher of Valorant. Mastercard became the first global sponsor of the world’s largest esport, League of Legends, in 2018. Gaming and esports have only continued to grow since then, and are likely to top $325 billion in annual revenue by 2026. Our partnership has opened opportunities to reach new and extremely engaged audiences, bringing them closer to their craft and improving their in-person and digital experience with the sport.
We plan to make our first big splash within the VCT community later this summer when the world’s best Valorant teams converge on Los Angeles — the birthplace of Riot Games — for Valorant Champions 2023 in August. There’s never been a better time or place to showcase our support of the VCT than during the esport’s first-ever international tournament in North America, where esports fandom will be at an all-time high.
Advancing diversity in gaming
With its emphasis on strategy, teamwork and character development, Valorant is also the most gender-diverse game in esports. Its VCT Game Changers circuit for women is designed to be a stepping-stone to further diversify the upper echelons of the sport.
Inclusion is a value we share. Over the years, we have built a strong sponsorship portfolio of women’s sports properties, including Women in Rugby, National Women’s Soccer League, and we sponsor dozens of female athletes around the world.
“We’re so excited to welcome Mastercard into the Valorant family and are looking forward to collaborating on diversity, inclusion and sustainability projects on behalf of our global player base,” says Anna Donlon, Valorant executive producer. “Valorant strives to be authentically global, and I can’t wait to explore all the things we can create for players later this year at Valorant Champions in my hometown of Los Angeles.”
“Mastercard has been a valued partner for League of Legends esports for years, offering priceless benefits to players and fans that we’re excited to expand to our growing Valorant esports ecosystem,” says Jonathan Zweig, Chief Commercial Officer at Riot Games. “Now is the perfect time to welcome them into the Valorant esports family, as we experience rapid growth across our global player base and gear up for Valorant Champions in Los Angeles later this summer.”
“As one of the first brands to see the energy and passion Riot’s esports bring to fans around the World, Mastercard will bring the power of its Priceless experiences to Valorant Esports, and we are absolutely thrilled to expand this partnership,” says Leo Faria, global head of Valorant Esports at Riot Games. “The Valorant Champions Tour is laser-focused on building a new kind of global sport that’s bold and inclusive for a new generation, and we look forward to collaborating with Mastercard on initiatives that will deliver next level experiences to our vibrant community.”
“Gaming has evolved into a global phenomenon. Yes, its revenues are now bigger than the movie and music industries combined and competitive gaming — esports — has morphed into a full-fledged global spectacle that rivals, and even dwarfs, many traditional sports,” says Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer. “The passion for esports is undeniable, transcending age, gender, race and culture. In fact, an incredible 90% of Gen Z are gaming enthusiasts.”
Mastercard’s focus on innovation in gaming
Mastercard is no stranger to delivering seamless, secure and rewarding experiences in gaming. Last year, we launched the Mastercard Gamer Xchange in Asia Pacific, allowing consumers to use their rewards points to gift gaming currency across popular games from their bank or loyalty program app. We’re also partnering with global video game commerce company Xsolla so that cardholders on some of the world’s biggest gaming platforms will be able to pay with their credit card loyalty points at checkout as early as this fall.
We’re collaborating to solve challenges in the gaming industry, prioritizing consumer choice and protections, including enhancing checkout experiences and strengthening authentication and fraud detection capabilities.
With these exciting initiatives, we are seizing the opportunity to level up the future of gaming and to bring the thrill of esports to more fans around the world.
All photos courtesy of Riot Games