Licensing industry newcomer, The Koyo Store is aligning itself with esports “in a big way,” citing the off-shoot sector of video gaming as “a growing animal that needs feeding.”
It’s been a short 15 months for this emerging new face on the scene, but a busy one that has already landed the pop culture company licensing partnerships with the likes of Ubisoft, Capcom and ITV Studios.
Most recently, company CEO Lee Townsend – an avid gamer and fan of gamer culture himself – signed the iconic Street Fighter IP to the portfolio, bringing it in line with other classics such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, and even more contemporary names like the content creator and Twitch streamer, Zironic.
The Koyo Store specialises in video game merchandise “the likes you have never seen before,” with a company mission of “bringing the virtual into reality”. Much of its success since its launch in January 2018 has been through its collection of metallic pins.
The company is now making moves that will align it with the fast-growing world of esports, a sector of the video gaming culture that is currently ‘crying out for the right kind of licensing to come along.’
“Esports has gone nuts,” Townsend told Licensing.biz. “It has grown exponentially to the point of which even people at the top of the game have turned around saying ‘hang on a minute… we’ve hit the beaches, but we’ve not got the supplies.
“Esports has hit this massive level, but they’re all like, ‘where’s the foundation, grassroots, next generation coming from? Where are the deals in merchandise that are solid and going to take us into the future when we go even bigger?'”
This is where The Koyo Store is currently looking, with a strategy of placing itself front and centre of the esports movement with its range of licensed pins. Already, the firm is in conversations with esport event organisers across the world to make it a reality.
“The idea is that we are looking at video gaming merchandise in a very different way,” Townsend explained. “You go to these events with 20,000 people attending, but they are not walking away with that piece of merch that says ‘I was there.’
“Equally, the players who play in these tournaments walk away with nothing that says ‘I was there…’ We are looking to do pins and coins specific to these events. These coins and pins may be very small in the scope of the billions of dollars that get thrown at these vents, but the only tangible part of it.
“It bonds your fans to your event.”
For Townsend, a business owner in the world of computers for the past 30 years, this presents something of a new era for licensing, particularly videogame licensing.
“Where part of our success comes from is the fact that we are a fresh pair of eyes, we think outside the box and we want to create a long term relationship with our licensors to bring substance to this, a foundation and bonding to this massively growing animal that needs feeding,” said Townsend.