As the fields of entertainment and gaming have merged over the past few years, the massive esports and gaming organization FaZe Clan is one of the most well-known names in the biz with more than 12 teams. They have established a die-hard fanbase at the intersection of gaming and youth entertainment, with over 33 million followers on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Twitch.
Yesterday at SXSW, Lee Trink, CEO of FaZe Clan, spoke with media reporter Sara Fischer of Axios about how gaming will continue to drive Gen Z culture and consumerism in the future. Trink told the SXSW audience that FaZe Clan has seen such titanic popularity partly because entertainment and the creator economy are far larger markets than just esports.
“We are so popular because of our YouTubers and streamers. That is really where the majority of the action is within gaming,” Trink said, “Gaming as entertainment is really the big mover.”
Trink revealed that FaZe Clan mostly makes its money predominantly through sponsors, like G Fuel and McDonald’s, and also through selling apparel and other consumer products: “Consumer products are a really interesting thing.”
He also revealed he’s interested in looking into Web3 as an opportunity for expansion.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the consensus around Web3 at SXSW seems to be that it is the next phase of the internet, theorized to be dominated by the blockchain and “decentralized” token-based relationships on the internet.
“Between FaZe Clan and its community are centralized bodies,” Trink said, “Centralized authorities like YouTube, Instagram, Activision, TikTok. Those centralized entities own that relationship and dictate a lot of things about that relationship.”
Trink continued: “They dictate what kind of content we can put out. They dictate how we communicate with each other. They dictate whether or how we can monetize that relationship… I think Web3 allows us to have an actual direct relationship with our community.”
How will FaZe Clan establish a direct relationship? Trink says NFTs are an exciting opportunity.
“You connect your wallet to us, and then we can use that connectivity for whatever we want. Whether that is to supply you with content, supply you with access,” Trink said.
Trink also compared the discourse around what Web3 means to the discussion around gaming at the beginning of its inception.
“Questioning the validity of Web3 is similar to questioning the validity of gaming. I look at that as questioning whether or not the sun will rise in the East. The technology exists, how it will be deployed will depend on all of us utilizing it,” Trink said, “It will be deployed in ways that are harmful, and it will be deployed in ways that are revolutionary.”