Esports Job Spotlight: Product Manager

Product management can be a very hands-on and dynamic role, but what does it consist of? We look at what it involves in esports… 

In general, product managers will typically look after a specific product, service or project. They will develop it and ensure it meets the need of the end user or customer. 

It’s an all-encompassing role that may include developing a business strategy, roadmap, hitting a target, as well as some elements of PR/marketing.
The product manager will analyse the market, develops a vision or goal for a specific product and will have to work with several departments to bring the product to fruition. Product managers will also have to make sure that everything is on schedule to launch at a certain time.

In esports, a product manager may be required to look after a specific league, event or other initiative. At an organisation, they may be required to work on new apps and products such as PC accessories or merchandise, and other initiatives with sponsors and partners.

With esports events and tournament providers, a product manager might have to manage a professional esports league, be responsible for the competition’s activities and even work on a social media strategy. When working on a league, you may be required to come up with initiatives to drive engagement, help design the format of the tournament and come up with creative solutions.

One top esports product manager compared the role to ‘being the ship’s captain who’s driving the product forward, but not always doing the work themselves’.

“You’re the center of information, and if someone needs something, they should always be able to come to you first and then you can point them to the person or place to go to find what they need,” they told the British Esports Association.

“You’re also the second person to talk to the client normally and almost the last person to talk to them at the end, so you really see the full product lifecycle through. It’s very much like a producer on a film, and that means you’re ultimately responsible for everything from budget right down to what colours the stage setup has.”

What skills do you need?

You’ll need to be a strong communicator, a team player with good business sense and the ability to work under pressure. Experience in sales, events, project management and esports also obviously helps.

Leadership skills will help too – and you may be required to travel frequently depending on the organisation. Good outside the box thinking will go a long way in product management.

Salary and hours

The average product manager salary according to Indeed is almost £50,000 (as of August 2020, taken from some 3,000 roles), but this includes non-esports roles and may not be accurate for this sector.

At the top-end, you could see figures of £60-70,000 and beyond, for example at huge game publishers. Junior roles may be closer to £20-25,000.

In terms of typical hours, it depends on what is being worked on. Activity can ramp up around a particular event or product launch, and you may be required to be around during this, then once it’s over, product management may alter to more of a 9 to 5 role. But it varies and you may need to put in extra hours where necessary, especially with a deadline around the corner.