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BUSINESS: Amazon among new Esports World Cup partners

The Esports World Cup, currently taking place in Saudi Arabia and organized by the Esports World Cup Foundation, has... Paolo | 7. July 2024
The Esports World Cup, currently taking place in Saudi Arabia and organized by the Esports World Cup Foundation, has announced two significant partnerships with Saudi-based Jameel Motorsport and global e-commerce giant Amazon.
The event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will feature nearly two dozen esports tournaments with a total prize pool exceeding US$60 million.

Amazon as Official E-commerce Partner

Amazon, one of the world’s most prominent companies, has been named the official e-commerce partner for the Esports World Cup. As part of this partnership, Amazon’s Saudi and UAE websites will promote the Esports World Cup through a dedicated hub featuring special offers and event information. Additionally, ticket buyers will receive Amazon discount codes, and Amazon Alexa users can ask their devices questions about the Esports World Cup.

Jameel Motorsport Park

Jameel Motorsport, part of Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, will host various activations during the Esports World Cup. These include karting, VR racing, and other exhibits. The “Jameel Motorsport Park” will be a dedicated segment of the event where fans can engage in motorsport-related activities and purchase co-branded merchandise from Jameel Motorsport, Toyota, and Gazoo Racing (GR).

These new partnerships join a growing list of commercial sponsors for the Esports World Cup, including Adidas, TikTok, Pepsi, Unilever, and HONOR. The event continues to attract major brands despite the controversy surrounding its government ties.

Criticisms

Despite the ongoing partnerships, many have criticized the Esports World Cup for being promoting “esportswashing,” or trying to shield the country’s controversial human rights record through esports. 

However, the program has also sponsored 30 teams for the Esports World Cup Club Support Program. This gives teams a one-time six-figure stipend if an organization is willing to enter new esports as well as additional funding each year if they drive viewership and fan engagement to the Esports World Cup. 

Saudi Arabia’s increasing investments in esports has sparked intense online criticism over the country’s stance on women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and censorship. Some industry voices have described Saudi Arabia’s involvement in competitive gaming as “esportswashing,” suggesting it is an effort to divert attention from its human rights record, as well as its brutal treatment of journalists following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

However, the multitude of esports viewership and revenue is expected to make a mark, with the outcome of the event potentially influencing the esports calendar and visibility of brands in the esports scene.