Panini America has become the first major trading card company to strike a partnership with an esports organization. While that might mean trading cards featuring some well-known gamers, the deal with Complexity Gaming of Dallas is about much more than that. The expectation is that the deal will help Panini grow its business with a younger audience that likes esports while helping Complexity reach a more traditional fan base.
Complexity, managed in part by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, has its headquarters in Frisco, TX, in the same complex that houses the Cowboys’ practice facility.
According to a news release, “the companies will work to engage fans from both esports and traditional sports through original content collaborations, onsite activations and collectible memorabilia.” That means you can expect Panini to create both digital and physical products for esports. It’ll also mean you’ll see some big name game-loving athletes who have endorsement deals with Panini playing games with some of Complexity’s competitors.
“By teaming up with one of the most reputable traditional sports brands, Complexity Gaming and Panini are furthering the intersection of esports and traditional sports through new product innovation and content,” said Daniel Herz, Chief Revenue Officer and Vice President, Complexity Gaming. “With the traditional sports world’s growing interest in video games and Panini’s roster of talented professional athletes and teams, this partnership creates more opportunity for integration across gaming, football, basketball, and more.”
Complexity and Panini will work together to create content for both esports and traditional sports audiences on a Panini Twitch channel that will launch on Thursday, January 17. Complexity influencers and streamers from Madden, Fortnite, card games, and other gaming communities, will stream on the official Panini Twitch channel, alongside a dedicated monthly YouTube video, and social media posts. This content will feature both Panini and Complexity athletes, while hosting giveaways and executing Panini Trading Card pack openings to support Panini’s NFL, NBA, and other trading card products including its NFL Blitz and NBA Dunk digital trading card apps.
“The esports audience shares similar demographics and interests as traditional trading card fans, so being able to engage those fans in new ways and where they are spending their time is important. It’s also a way to engage a younger audience and introduce them to our Panini trading card products,” said Jason Howarth, Vice President of Marketing, Panini America. “Partnering with Complexity, an organization that shares a similar vision to creating compelling content, reaching new audiences and leveraging the crossover appeal of gaming with traditional athletes is why we are really excited about this partnership.”
In addition to creating original content, Panini and Complexity will provide live fan engagement opportunities. During fan signing sessions and meet-and-greets, Complexity gamers will sign custom cards, posters, and more that are presented and designed by Panini. The companies will also create custom trading cards for the Complexity franchise, including for players and influencers.