At the end of 2018, giant alcohol brand Jägermeister announced its first venture into video games. The firm announced the Track and Build competition with one indie developer able to have "London-based cinematic bass duo Koven" produce a song for their game.
This competition is being handled by the company's music division, which has been around since 2003, but it sounds like there's potential for video games to get its own division in the future, too. We caught up with music manager Tom Carson to find out more
Why is Jägermeister looking to get into the video games industry?
We have been working in music in the UK since 2003 supporting up and coming musicians based upon a mutual love of music and Jägermeister. Video games are a big part of their lives, too, both as a hobby and composing for games like the artist Koven who we work with. It, therefore, seemed like a natural step to join them in the gaming world because like the world of music it is an explosive Catherine Wheel of exciting creativity and raw energy where great things happen.
Why have you approached video games via your music business?
We have already dipped our toe into the market with a couple of other initiatives. We sponsored the Games Media Brit List Awards last year, which was a great experience for us, giving us the opportunity to meet with games journalists, editors and broadcasters and witness first hand this close-knit community.
Via our sponsorship of Soho Radio, we also hosted a week-long residency for mobile games company Reality Gaming Group, presenting video games-themed radio shows all week, opening a ‘crypto’ store and advice centre, and hosting an industry party. Our Soho Radio residencies are all about supporting and promoting creative industries – we’ve hosted artists, artisan bakers, record labels and more – and we are already talking to more games companies about getting involved.
But the Track and Build competition is our first ‘big’ splash in video games and it made sense for us to combine our experience and connections within the music industry, with our new approach to the games market. We know the contribution that games audio makes to the overall music industry; we know how important games music is to games developers and publishers for the gaming experience, but also for DLC opportunities; we know that there are composers who would jump at the chance to work with award-winning artists like Koven; we know that there are indie games studios who would love a track produced by Koven, along with the publicity it will bring. Putting all that together, we believe we have a pretty compelling initiative with Track and Build, both for indie games studios and for composers. And, of course, it ties in completely with our commitment to nurturing creative talent.
This competition feels like Jägermeister is hedging its bets, by getting its music business to give video games a try. In time, can you see a video games arm being part of the company?
It’s certainly a possibility but as a gamer myself I would be gutted to hand gaming over to a colleague! Pah!
One of the big things that esports and pro-gaming has been trying to attract is non-endemic advertisers and sponsors. Is this something that Jager is interested in speaking to companies in this space about?
We’ve watched the huge growth in esports and pro-gaming and this is definitely an area of interest for us. As a responsible alcohol brand, we are committed to the rules of the Portman Group Code of Conduct, so we would have to find a way to work within esports that fits with those guidelines and makes sense.
Right now, there are conversations taking place about video games addiction with one concern being that this will change how games are advertised. In fact, it's possible that they may have to be advertised with many of the same warnings as alcohol, gambling and cigarettes - back when they could be advertised on TV. As a company that already has to abide by these sorts of guidelines, what advice would you offer video games companies?
Alcohol brands in the UK have to abide by a huge amount of guidelines and regulations, and rightly/understandably so. But the industry is very much self-regulating by The Portman Group, which was established in 1989 by the UK's leading alcohol producers to promote responsible drinking. The Group also launched a Code of Practice in the 90s in response to criticism of ‘alcopops’ and is now praised for raising the standards of marketing across the alcohol industry.
With this in mind, I’d suggest that video games companies should work together to share and discuss the challenges of how to market games responsibly and create their own guidelines. Both UKIE and TIGA are strong trade organisations which have good connections with Government, and with existing initiatives such as Ask About Games, so there are a good base and environment to build from.
What is Jager's ambition within the video games space?
As in music, we ultimately want to align the Jägermeister brand with great talent – at a grassroots level and beyond – and to support the creative companies and individuals within the video games space. And we’re looking forward to joining the industry at events throughout the year, as we get to know it better. Who knows where this journey will take us, but we’re excited to be on board!