Riot Games has signed a massive non-endemic advertiser for League of Legends.
GamesBeat has the story, reporting that the finance firm has come on board as a sponsor for League of Legends esports for "multiple years".
Getting advertisers from outside video games into the space has long been a goal for not only publishers and developers but also the games media. The now-famous Halo 4 video featuring Geoff Keighley next to a mountain of Doritos and Mountain Dew was a step in this direction, clumsy as it was.
Getting someone like VISA or Coca-Cola on-board as a sponsor for pro-gaming is also potentially seen as a legitimisation of the sector, too.
“This is a landmark deal for us. Mastercard is going to be the first global partner of our global events. They are on board for the long run,” Riot head of esports partnerships Naz Aletaha said.
“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 VP of consumer marketing and sponsorships Emily Neenan added: “I have attended the events, and the atmosphere and fandom is on par with anything. That is one of the reasons why we are super excited. At Mastercard, this is a brand new audience. There was no way we could deny this is where we need to be.”
Of course, this comes in the wake of scathing criticism of Riot Games' working culture. The firm appears to be taking action to remedy this, announcing how it is going to be changing its office environment in addition to hiring Frances Frei who previously helped Uber turn around its working culture.
This, Mastercard's Neenan says, is something that the finance firm has been talking to Riot about.
“At Mastercard, we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and we expect that out of our partners as well,” she said. “We have talked to them throughout this process and feel they are taking action.”
Riot's Aletaha added: “Addressing the [issue of a sexist culture] is important to all current partners and future ones and Rioters and our player base. For us, respect and equality are going to be non-negotiable. Absolutely.”