Interview mit Jonas Lygaard

Kooperation zwischen Fussballclubs und eSport - eine Partnerschaft mit Zukunft?

Das ESB Marketing Netzwerk hatte die Möglichkeit mit Jonas Lygaard, Senior Director Brand & Business Development bei Konami, ein Interview zu führen. Gesprochen wurde über Pro Evolution Soccer, die Rolle der grossen Clubs und Konkurrent FIFA.

The PES League is close to its end. The world finals will be played in the Arsenal Stadium before the finalists are off to Cardiff, where the awards ceremony will be held and then they will watch the UEFA Champions League final. The regional finals were played in Liverpool and Barcelona, both times in the epic stadiums Anfield Road and Camp Nou in cooperation with both clubs. How important are these connections for PES to these big sport clubs? 
J.L.:
 Partner clubs are really important to PES, and we are extremely proud of the way we have integrated PES League into an authentic stadium experience. Venues such as Camp Nou and Anfield make it possible for us to connect PES League and PES players even closer to real world of football. They’ve been in the player changing rooms, at the side of the pitch, and competing in their own finals in some of Europe’s most famous stadiums. That all helps create the same feeling of excitement and high stakes as pro football players. From a logistics point of view, we have taken areas of the stadiums previously unused for partner activation and turned them into eSports arenas, the like of which neither FC Barcelona nor Liverpool FC have ever seen before. We hope as PES League and eSports mature in the future, that one day maybe we will be able to move on the pitch and even fill the stadium with spectators. 

Speaking of clubs that you cooperate with - Borussia Dortmund is an exclusive Konami partner. Hans- Joachim Watzke recently stated: “eSport is complete bullshit” Did you call him that day or just shook your head?
 
J.L.: Everyone is entitled to comment on eSports. I have no problem with Mr. Watzke comment – we are proud to partner with a club such as Dortmund, and we don’t force any club into eSports. For those partner football clubs who do see an opportunity, we will always provide them with the best most appropriate guidance on how to progress for their club. For most football clubs, PES League is a natural step into eSports. The content and the competition is something easily understood by their existing fan base and has great brand synergy. For most clubs and fans, that makes more sense than going straight into partnerships with non-football based eSports teams and professionals. 

Football-Clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain, FC Basel, Manchester City or VfL Wolfsburg stepped into FIFA by signing different professional players. On the other site there isn’t such a big movement in the PES-scene. Schalke 04 made headlines by signing the German PES champion Lennart “LENNAO” Albrecht in February. Are you planning on supporting clubs to enter PES-eSports?
 
J.L.: I strongly believe you will see a lot of changes over the next year with more clubs signing PES players. We are talking with clubs, leagues, federations and agencies about eSports, and we will be supporting the right initiatives – I have no doubt this will cause more clubs to get involved and sign PES players in the future. 

What is the main difference between FIFA and PES? Are you aiming at the same target-group and if so, why would a customer buy PES instead of FIFA?
 
J.L.: Looking at the market we have to be honest and say yes, we are definitely competing for the same target audience, and right now, PES is the ‘Challenger’, and we are keen on winning back market share. We have a fantastic product, and we’ve just announced the latest addition to the franchise, PES 2018. It looks unbelievable and will set a new benchmark for gameplay. For the gamers who want to play the best and the most realistic football game, for the football purists, this will be their game for sure. But PES 2018 is also the product for the young, up and coming players as well. Kids are smart, and we’re starting to see younger players enter in our competitions now – they are really good – and we believe PES 2018 will become the new schoolyard favourite. PES 2018 will make its official debut at this year’s E3, the new trailer goes live on June 13th. 

If you had the chance to implement one aspect of FIFA 17 into PES what would it be and the other way around, which aspect of PES would you implement in FIFA 18, if you were in charge at EA. 
J.L.: Everyone knows the main difference between FIFA and PES is that they have more licenses and we have the better gameplay. From our side, we are increasing the gap in gameplay with more and more improvements for PES 2018. We are also improving our licences with more great football partnerships. I’m sure EA will look at the gameplay in PES 2018 with envy. For us, gameplay and exploring new modes and features, will always be most important. Though we are always looking to sign the right partnerships and secure new licences. 

EA used its Ultimate Team mode to generate bigger prizepools. Some PES proplayers would appreciate a similar idea for their competitive scene. Did Konami miss this kind of development?
J.L.: No, we didn’t miss this opportunity – we had a different approach. For us, the most important thing was to make the PES League competition open to everyone. That’s why we included PES League in the free to play version of PES 2017 so that even without owning the game people could sign up and compete. Making the competition accessible and open to all was our priority and we’ve had great feedback from doing so. 

Publishers realise that eSports is an essential part of a games success. How important do you rate eSports in PES and what are your plans in this regard for the future? 
J.L.:
 It’s clear with PES League this year that eSports is very important to us, and you will in the coming period see how PES League will evolve in PES 2018. 

The german football league (DFL) accepts bids for the Bundesliga-Licence from season 2018/2019 onwards. EA had these licences for the last couple of years. You already mentioned last week, Konami is able to handle big licences like Champions League. DFL stated that money is not the deciding factor, the package is, what makes you confident, that your package overcomes EA’s?
 
J.L.: First of all, I’m happy to see a league with an open and transparent tender process, where all publishers have a fair chance to enter and compete. At the moment though, I have nothing official to share specific to the DFL, other than whatever packages we propose to potential partners will always be competitive.