Mastercard

League of Legends brings in a new form of currency.

People, we have a new passenger on board the hype train. After New Balance, Boost Mobile, KFC, and others, Mastercard becomes the latest edition to the esports industry. The global finance tech giant has signed a multi-year endorsement with Riot Games. Riot Games, the company behind League of Legends, is constantly looking for new ways to change the game. Recently, they announced their new tier structure. They have also put measures in place to rectify some of the controversy surrounding the company’s values.

Mastercard was impressed with Riot’s positive move towards an inclusive and diverse culture. Thus, they proceeded with the global partnership. This is a first for Riot.

Global endorsement

This deal is a partnership of firsts. A first for Riot landing a global partner. It’s also a first for Mastercard entering the competitive gaming space. Mastercard will be League of Legends‘s exclusive global payment services provider. Furthermore, the company will be focusing on League‘s three major annual tournaments: the Mid-Season Invitational, the All-Star event, and Worlds. Mastercard will also be running activations at each event.

The deal is another testament to the growth of esports. More mainstream brands are moving into esports to reach a “brand new audience.” Naz Aletaha, the Head of Partnerships at Riot Games, is excited about the deal:

This is a landmark deal for us. Mastercard is going to be the first global partner of our global events… We are excited to partner with Mastercard because they are truly world class at elevating fan experiences. Look what they do with Major League Baseball, the Grammys and other events. We look for partners who share our philosophy in being fan focused.

Mastercard is a company typically know for its innovation. They patron numerous hackathons around the world. As a company, they strive to be a “leader in global digital payments and technology.”

Just the right fit

The Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Mastercard, Raja Rajamannar, is excited about the partnership, but also cautious. Mastercard is encouraged by the measures put in place to improve Riot’s company culture. They believe they’ve found the right fit:

For us it’s very simple. It’s not just Riot. Any partner that we work with, if there are these fundamental, ethical issues that come about, we won’t hesitate walking away… we had open conversations with Riot and said how are you planning to address these things? These concepts that are bad. They stated both to us as to the public of the steps they’re trying to take, how they are focused, etc. That gives us comfort. These guys are serious about it and they will focus on trying to get this stuff done the right way.

Moreover, Rajamannar said Mastercard had concerns over excessive violence. Video game violence is one of the top reasons mainstream brands steer away from esports. Many gaming titles include blood and violence. Organisations partnering with such games could be seen as condoning violence. League of Legends doesn’t carry this type of violence. It’s a more fantasy-like game. Bright colours and fun characters are integral to the game. Mastercard was drawn to this more-lighthearted nature:

It’s more fantasy based. More strategy, team spirit and sportsmanship. It’s different than just killing and shooting and the gore, blood spilling, it’s not that kind of a thing. So it fit in very well. In terms of the character that it has got, fits much better with the way we wanted to go.

Moving forward

Mastercard will be involved in Riot’s three main offline tournaments. Additionally, it will curate experiences across these events. There will also be promotions and ticketing programs rolled out over the course of the partnership. We can assume co-branded products will be part of the partnership, and many fans are looking forward to what the union holds.

Michelle Mannering
Michelle is a Content Producer in the realms of innovation and technology. Known as the “Hackathon Queen” 👑 you'll often find her on stage MC’ing or speaking on a range of topics from artificial intelligence, to business, community engagement, the future of work, and esports. With a background in both science and arts, Michelle writes extensively on a range of topics including innovation, startups, corporate culture, esports, business development, and more. She has a passion for gaming and combines this with her experience in a range of industries. Michelle brings a unique insight into esports innovation and draws many parallels between the physical world of sport, and the digital world of esports.