Théophile Monnier will be teaching throughout the Gaming Business School curriculum. Mr Monnier introduces us to his job, his career, and speaks about G.BS’s relevance in the video game and esport sector.
Théophile Monnier was a commercial director at Millenium, a pioneer in the esport sector, and then was a Director General at Eclypsia. He is now a commercial development consultant in the video game and digital sector.
What is your career history?
I have had the luck over the last five years to be at the heart of the evolution of esport in France, firstly as a commercial director at Millenium, one of the pioneers of the sector and an emblematic brand, and then as Director General of Eclypsia, one of the most important media services dedicated to esport and gaming.
Initially, I worked in the press. My first professional career was creating and managing magazines (on paper!) about my two passions, history and video games: Vae Victis for example, was a french magazine dedicated to wargames, Cyberstratège, about strategy games, Ravage, about fantasy gamesVoyage & Histoire about cultural tourism, etc. Well, that was back in the ’90s and the 2000s and wouldn’t appeal to the Gaming Campus students! I worked within the press for practically twenty years, within my own publishing house. I naturally changed direction from journalism and editing towards commercial management, advertising and partnerships.
I joined Millenium at the end of 2012, to dive into the world of esport and digital publicity. It was a great period, one which saw the professionnalisation of the french esport scene. It was necessary to invent practically everything: the advertisements, the medium, the arguments, I would go and talk to brands who knew practically nothing about the world of video games and I had to explain what streaming, competition, esport champions were and especially how to take up a position in this market, with never before seen marketing approaches. Today the sector is infinitely more mature, everything is classified and identified, but five years ago, we were in the era of pioneers, it was impassioning.
After Webedia bought out Millenium, I joined the group in Paris for a few months, and then Eclypsia hired me to manage commerce, and eventually as a senior manager after it was purchased by new shareholders. The formidable adventure of Eclypsia two years, with the introduction of partnerships and full-scale special operations and community support that has never waivered. Then our main streamers and presenters, some of whom had been with us for five years, decided to create their own businesses, individually or as a group, and we were forced to downsize towards the end of 2017. I left Eclypsia last January.
Why did you choose the video game industry?
I got into video games quite late, only towards the age of 25… which was in about 1992, the era of Civilization I! Obviously, I became completely hooked and like most of my passions, this brought about the creation of magazines, then one of the first french websites (gamelog.com, in 2000) which I edited. I then passed from editorial projects to other sectors.
Ten years later, with the emergence of streaming platforms and the development of the esport scene (which had existed for years but had never found a perennial model), the sector presented completely new opportunities, essentially around content. As this was a sector I knew my way around, I took my chance!
Beyond the business aspect, I remained an avid player, mainly on turn-by-turn strategy games, 4X games and RPG games. But it’s important to try everything and especially to be able to sense new trends, which sometimes come about in a completely random way. This gaming culture needs to be in the DNA of industry professionals, with the constant ability to leave their certainty and comfort zones behind.
From what I can tell, the music business, for example, has had to adapt to two major evolutions in 15 years, (pirating and subscription services), and in the video game industry, usage and model revolutions and take place every year!
What does your job consist of? What qualities are essential to work in the industry?
My role at Millenium and Eclypsia essentially consisted of implementing and developing commercial offerings, whether it was advertisements, or marketing partnerships, within a rapidly transforming sector. It is important to remember that in just a few years, video games have become a media and entertainment, which is unique. Therefore it was necessary to create a business model around this evolution, by choosing mechanisms and offerings that already existed in the world of sport, TV, or events, but also mixing in new approaches on never before seen platforms.
When we work in esport and gaming marketing, we use multiple media supports, some of which have only just been understood by big TV groups. It is, therefore, necessary to have a certain agility and to be able to give coherence and sense to this cultural turmoil, in order to be able to present constructed offers to brands who are reticent or curious. And to add to that there is the business of influencers, which is nonetheless fairly marginal compared to the beauty or travel industries.
In two words, my job is essentially to monetise audioences and notoritety around multiple platforms adn media: websites, WebTV, YouTube videos, and influencer notoriety. The main difficulty is to constantly create new offerings, whilst listening to the needs of brands, and to ensure the qualificative and quantative performance of these operations and campaigns. There are plenty of things to learn for a young student who wants to work in this job!
In regards to qualities, one must have a good knowledge of technical tools (online advertising format, data analysis on platforms, basis in advertising programming), ideally a very good level in advertisement conception (powerpoint and photoshop) and the marketing and sales approach to structure them, excellent sales qualities obviously, and finally imagination, experience and agility to conceive of innovative advertisements for ever more demanding clients. And as for any other sector, if you are not immersed within it, (here as a gamer or an esport expert), you won’t be on top of your game!
Why do you think a management school dedicated to video games is necessary?
It is evident from my last reply. One of the biggest difficulties in our industry, especially within commercial functions, is finding people who combine an excellent knowledge of gaming and the skills that one expects in the sales industry. And to add on to that are multiple technical competencies, operational capacities, experience in a workplace… and obviously a high level of English.
It is already hard to find good salespeople and managers, and finding those who are passionate about video games and esport, is almost like mission impossible!
However, rather to the contrary, the opposite cannot be said. There is no lack of people passionate about video games, obviously, but thet are often wrong to belive that their passion will make up for their lack of experience. Within game publishers, media publishers, marketing structures or esport industries: we need executive professionals, who are well trained, rigorous, who have a marketing background, who are ready for the workplace, and who have a solid basis in commerce, but who also have an employability and a knowledge of the sector that will make all the difference.
Just as there are specialised schools for the wine industry or sports marketing, there needs equally to be management schools dedicated to the video game industry, because it is extremely specialised and demanding, in terms of digital marketing, new uses, new business models, let alone market and product knowledge. Regarding the idea of project-based learning, Gaming Campus proposes an innovative educational approach which will allow a new generation of managers to be created for the video game industry.