Louis Vuitton skins

I’ve previously said the biggest flex in gaming isn’t a rare skin but a high competitive rating. I still think that’s true but here’s an announcement that Louis Vuitton is releasing a set of League of Legends skins.

Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for women’s collections, will be designing a series of in-game character skins along with a clothing capsule collection

This is an interesting experiment. The two otherwise unrelated brands are each trying to gain something from the other.

  • League wants to be even more “mainstream” to expand its player base

  • Louis Vuitton wants to expand their brand to digital (one of their strategic priorities mentioned in their 2018 annual report)

And both want to sell some stuff and make some money.

If this works, I expect to see every major consumer brand try to get into selling digital goods. It’s a great business. They’re cheap to make, non-transferable so there’s no secondary market to worry about, and they’re not substitute goods for your physical products.

The risk is brand dilution. If a premium brand isn’t—for whatever reason—coveted in game, that would decrease demand in the real world. For a toy example, imagine LV releasing toilet paper you can buy at Costco. That would probably be bad for LV.

So if the reception is poor, I expect they just pull the skins and never speak of it again. If I had to guess, I’d say this is more of a one-time gimmick than a lasting trend. There’s a lot of benefit for both brands to be the “first” major partnership of this type. Second, third, and n-movers won’t benefit as much from the PR.

What would it take for this to work at scale? Real scarcity. Now that would be interesting to see.