24-26 Aug 2021
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

Esports: The revolution will be gamified

The recent webinar panel discussion hosted by AVIXA, "“Esports: Looking to the Future in the Post-COVID-19 World”, brought together AV industry experts to share their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges in the esports space under current circumstances and in a post-COVID-19 world, Loanna Overcash reports on the discussion.

The Future’s so Bright…

While COVID-19 has created a unique backdrop in which to consider opportunities, the esports industry has already seen an annual growth of approximately 15% over the past few years, says Day.

“With the pandemic, everyone is breaking records with viewership. Brands can now dig deeper into esports and gaming. With ESPN, BBC, and other networks looking to acquire more esports content – it is a recognition that gaming and esports is extremely strong, reaches a global viewership, and provides a lot of great brand integration,” said panelist Nasim Abu Qouta, Senior Sales Executive of Brand Partnerships, DreamHack AB.

To understand the potential for esports, one must look beyond the games and platforms. There is an entire esports ecosystem comprised of publishers, players and teams, tournaments and leagues, and brands and advertisers. These groups are coming together to create new forms of entertainment and consumption.

Community, Branding, and Sponsorships

Community is integral to gaming and esports, the teams, and the environment. In this space, authenticity is key. Brands that understand and provide value to the community will find an extremely loyal audience. Fundamentally, gaming is about forming social connections and it’s about learning. The audience expects a good commentator and analysis because they want to learn. Production needs to cover all the important angles for the observer – and if that doesn’t happen, the community will be vocal about it.

Online platforms that are effective have leaned into their communities and are engagement-driven – such as providing digital content rewards for engaging in the content.

Collegiate Esports

Approximately 200 schools have varsity esports programs and scholarships totaling $16 million – a number that has doubled in the past 3 years. As more academic institutions move from intramural to varsity programs, curriculum, and workforce development opportunities will increase.

Women Gamers

The opportunity to double the addressable market lies with women gamers. While 46% of gamers are women, they may not be playing typical esports games. The advantage with esports is that it is a competition of the mind – not physicality.

The NBA 2K League, the first official esports league operated by a U.S. professional sports league with 23 teams across the globe, “is putting a strong emphasis behind attracting women. This is a huge opportunity to expand community,” said panelist Mike Donnay, Vice President, Brand Networks, Detroit Pistons.

Hosting all-female esports tournaments is another way to engage women gamers by enabling them to compete under the same conditions as male sports athletes.

Expanding Gaming Genres

The technical innovation, production elements, storytelling, and creative competition being forced by the explosion of esports will benefit broader gaming genres beyond the stereotypical first-person shooter games.

“The esports space leverages a lot of technologies the AV industry is already engaged in to create an experience like no other,” said panelist Brad Sousa, Chief Technology Officer of AVI Systems. “The best experience/outcomes are going to come from people with a developed skill set in areas such as production, live events, and broadcast. The newness of the application is going to attract and create credibility for esports.”

Future Venues and Arena Readiness

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for esports is designing an overall experience so valuable that participants are compelled to leave the comfort of their own homes to attend.

While the trend has been to choose a venue and create a professional esports event to fit that space, ideally the venue would be strategically designed to the experience and capable of hosting more than one event at a time.

“Every platform is different. It comes down to the conversation of ‘what are the needs?’ and making sure it is future proof, where you can scale up,” said Donnay.

The Revolution Will Be Gamified

“Gaming is a $140 billion industry. Esports is a $1 billion industry. In terms of virtual production technology – esports is leading edge and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg,” said panelist Todd Harris, CEO of Skillshot Media. “Gaming is going to revolutionize production. That technology is going to democratize the production industry – growing on every single platform. We are just getting started in this massive industry full of opportunity.”

Article written by Loanna Overcash
This article was originally published by our event partners AVIXA,  to read the full article and watch the webinar, click here.

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