The United States Navy Recruiting Command has partnered with Twitch, Electronic Sports League (ESL), and DBLTAP for its esports initiative. North American esports organization Evil Geniuses will in turn be helping the U.S. Navy scout sailors for a prospective Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) team. Through this process, the U.S. Navy hopes to facilitate a positive relationship with the gaming community.
The Navy reportedly hosted a BYOC (bring your own computer) “activation space” at DreamHack Anaheim 2020. Furthermore, they’ll attend DreamHack Dallas May 22 through 24. The Navy’s CSGO team debuts at TwitchCon 2020, alongside Evil Geniuses.
The Navy’s partnership with Twitch brings a unique miniseries to the platform. It will be six episodes depicting how sailors use the same strategic mindset and decision-making processes to serve in the military that they do to engage in esports.
Meanwhile, DBLTAP’s role in partnering with the Navy will be to produce “Role Comparison” videos, where they and professional players team up “to compare different rates in the Navy with specific roles on an esports team.”
A unique recruitment strategy
Ultimately, the Navy’s esports campaign is part of a larger recruitment strategy. December 2019 brought an announcement from the Navy stating a shift in its advertising budget.
Typically, the military recruitment demographic is men and women between the ages of 18 and 28. Therefore, they’ve identified online advertising as a more efficient outreach mechanism than traditional outlets such as television.
“One thing we did learn is (about) paying for a lot of TV ads in the middle of Super Bowl game. (The) target audience is not watching that,” said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke at the Military Reporters and Editors annual conference.
Instead, the Navy decided to focus 97% of its advertising on digital platforms like Twitch and YouTube. This plan came as a result of a 2018 Syracuse University study predicting an esports audience of 84 million, a number greater than most professional sports leagues. What’s more enticing to the Navy is 61% of the esports audience is under the age of 25, their target demographic.
“Gear up! We’re goin’ in!”
The Navy isn’t the only military branch taking an interest in the esports audience as part of its potential recruitment pool. Similarly, in 2018, ELEAGUE and the U.S. Air Force collaborated in content creation. Furthermore, the Air Force was the MVP sponsor of ELEAGUE’s CSGO Major in Boston, Massachusetts.
The U.S. Army created its esports team, actively competing in Call of Duty and other titles. Their partner organization, Complexity, attended a military boot camp at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Professional players participated in military drills alongside soldiers. Later, U.S. army personnel attended the GameStop Performance Center in Frisco, Texas, to engage in several activities, including a live-streamed tournament.