Lee Davy continues his birds eye view of the panel activity at the recent eSports Betting Summit held at The Royal Garden Hotel in London, this time, covering the need to understand your eSports customer.
I am divorced.
I see my son once a fortnight. He comes over, says hello, and then heads to his room. I entered his little man cave the other day. He was watching a video on his mobile phone, tears of laughter streaming down his face.
“What are you watching?”
It’s not until you watch someone who loves to play video games, preferring to watch someone else playing video games, that you realise you no longer understand what the hell is going in the world?
Who are your average eSports fans?
I haven’t got a clue, but James Dean, Founder & Co-Managing Director, Electronic Sports League, Victor Martyn, Owner & CEO, GosuGamers.net, and Jens Hilger, CEO, DOJO Madness, do.
What Does The Current Ecosystem Look Like?
JH took this one on by explaining to the audience that the eSports ecosystem consisted of the game designers such as Blizzard, Riot, and Valve; leagues such as the Electronic Sports League (ESL); teams and their players, and broadcast networks such as Twitch.
VM also added the important role that the media and eSports forums also play.
The conversation moved onto the eSports audience. JD said that viewer numbers were expected to rise to 215 million by 2019. 72% of those who watch are employed, 34% are high earners and 32% mid-tier.
On the gender split JD said the ecosystem was a male dominated environment. JH confirmed this when he said 95% of fans are male and he believes this is because of the real-time competitive element of the game that appeals more to males.
The Role of Video Games
The moderator asked the panel about the role that video games have played for the growth of the eSports consumer. JD said that it depended on how children take in their content and how parents moderate that intake. However, he did impress that the use of video games has become an every day part of our children’s lives.
VM said a good indicator of how video games will affect our children is to look at the behaviour of their parents.
“It’s become the replacement for TV,” said VM. “Our children say to their friends ‘I will see you online.’”
JH told the audience that he was inspired by the computer game Quake. For him, computer games were a better form of entertainment that sports. Children are growing up with video games and mobile phones in every home today. eSports is normality for many. There are people playing these games and it’s human nature to want to know who is the best.
“Faker will be a bigger star than Ronaldo.” Said JH.
JH continued to remind everyone that eSports are easier to play than sports such as football. You don’t have to round up your mates to play; you just jump online. He also believes that the younger generation yearn for a more strategic element to their games.
“They want more depth,” said JH. “They are smarter than us. eSports is the next generation sport.”
VM reminded us that our children are playing games on mobile phones when only a few years old.
“If you want to know what the future will be like, ask your two-year-old.” Said VM. “Understand your children. They would prefer to watch someone playing a game than to play it themselves.”
What Are the Demographics Different Around the Globe?
VM said that Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games are the dominant choice in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. There are legal issues with First Person Shooter (FPS) games in the Asian countries. The FPS games will slowly take hold there but the MOBA games are culturally ingrained and it will be a tough nut, to crack for other game types.
JD talked about the important role community plays in the eSports ecosystem and talked about crowdfunding. The micro transactions that create huge Dota 2 prize pools are all about the power of the community.
JH said that the West enjoy the FPS games; fighting games are popular in the US and Japan, console games like Call of Duty are a big hit in the UK & US, and then you get some interesting cultural links like World of Tanks being popular in Russia and Germany for example. He also alluded to the fact that the Asian countries might not be exposed to as much ‘entertainment’ as the US, so eSports has fewer ‘entertainment-type’ competitors hence the popularity.
Is a Dedicated eSports Betting Platform Required?
VM believes a dedicated eSports betting platform would be better. JH said there are already too many sports available in sportsbooks and would prefer to see simplicity. He believes people want to get somewhere with the minimal number of clicks and that eSports needs to be separated.
“Betting is part of the experience. It makes you more excited.” Said JH.
VM spoke out that it will be an indie developer that gets eSports betting right and everyone will follow.
I spoke to the panel about the Global Poker League (GPL) and asked them if poker or a game like HoldemX could be the next eSports. All three people on the panel were aware of the GPL and had connected with Alex Dreyfus at some point in time.
JH said you would need $20-$30m and the best game developers in the world, and only then would you have a 10% chance of succeeding.
The panel were then asked if eSports needed TV?
VM said they didn’t and that Twitch and YouTube coverage was the way forward. JD said that TV is a broadcast platform, and so is the Internet. JH said that TV is a burden and that millennials want their entertainment on demand.
“People want to see what they want to see, when they want to see it. They don’t want advertisements destroying content.” Said JH
JD said that the ESL loved working with Sky TV on the Katowice coverage. The fans loved it, but preferred to watch the highlights on YouTube.