The esports industry is the kind of industry that hasn’t developed out of need, but rather, out of passion. It’s an ecosystem where all participants, such as esports organisations, tournament organisers and brands, as well as publishers and athletes work together to keep their audiences engaged, entertained and happy.
Because esports is a young and rapidly growing sector, it’s in the best interest of everyone involved to navigate challenges and opportunities that arise along the way and ultimately make sure it’s going to continue blooming, whilst also providing its unique value. As a result, esports focused conventions and international events all around the world are being held in order to bring together leading industry figures in an important discussion regarding esports’ growth and future development.
The Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum (DELF), hosted by Cyberport Hong Kong on 11th-12th December 2020, is precisely a convention like that, aiming to “lead the industry in identifying market drivers and new monetisation models, decode the value chain of this booming sector, as well as tap the global trend of ‘esportification’ to effectively navigate this new standard.”
One of the heavily emphasised topics at this year’s edition of DELF are esports-specific platforms. Prior to the start of the event next week, Esports Insider talked to some of the speakers, uncovering the great importance of such platforms for the growth of the industry.
Paddy Markham, CEO and Founder of Capsl, addressed the topic: “All sports, including esports, are like a pipeline. They all have a much larger audience and fan-base than professional players themselves. The problem is, how do you drive players with an interest in a game, all the way through to becoming a pro-player?”
According to Markham, providing effective esports-specific platforms is an important issue that needs to be solved in order for competitive gaming to grow. “We already know the value that professional athletes bring to sports – they are celebrities and aspirational figures that inspire entire generations, fuel brand sponsorships, entertainment rights and the growth of the sport for years to come,” he explained.
Focusing on this problem, Capsl has recently launched BAASH, a mobile esports platform meant to help aspiring esports athletes with the first steps on their journey towards becoming professional players. “Our goal with BAASH is to act as the first set of stepping stones to becoming a professional esports athlete. We think that this is the most important stage of the pipeline and a necessary step towards cultivating a healthy, trusted industry built around enabling skilled players to thrive,” Markham revealed.
Markham also pointed out the lack of tournament reporting standards, caused mostly by a large variety of competitive genres on multiple platforms. “Typically simple tasks such as announcing who won can become logistical headaches when supporting multiple game titles across platforms, unless manual reporting is involved,” he said. “This issue is amplified by the fact that only publishers can control games, therefore additional integration by the game studio is usually needed.”
Capsl’s solution is technology and innovation. “With BAASH, we’ve addressed this using a mixture of computer vision and machine learning in order to programmatically capture and verify match results in real time without the need for integration by the publisher,” added Markham.
Charles Fanuchet, Co-founder of Loot Company Limited noted, that the evolution of esports-specific platforms is still just in its infancy. “There is so much room for improvement. Game developers are more open to connect with third party platforms and they start to understand how it can help them to develop their esports scene. For tournament organisers, having a better service helps them to grow their community and deliver better tournaments, which ultimately leads to more business opportunities.”
Loot focuses on tournament reporting automation and data delivery by integrating with games’ API, providing better esports experience for everybody involved, as well as allowing tournament organisers to create inventive content thanks to match statistics retrieved from the game.
“To put it simply, in most of the games, there is no tournament management system and if there is, it is limited. Therefore someone else has to build it. Esports start online. An esports-specific platform is essential,“ continued Fanuchet, who believes, that the development of esports platforms will also help bolster the sector’s e-commerce product. “The best example I have is how it became natural for people to shop on social networks such as Facebook or Instagram.”
“As organisers are gathering a community of players through the tournament they are creating, having their online shop directly on the esports platform is a natural extension. On another level, as players gather rewards on esports platforms, integrating with an e-commerce platform to exchange those rewards against products would be a great fit for everyone, “ he suggested.
This would allow e-shops to tap into a very specific target of the gaming audience in a legitimate way, while providing a better reward-shopping experience for players and facilitate the rewards distribution process for the esports platform.
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Melissa Kong, Co-founder of Innotainment Group Limited confirmed the positive relationship between the esports industry and e-commerce: “We definitely see esports, the entertainment industry and e-commerce coming closer together, particularly this year, when we spend more time indoors to keep ourselves safe from the pandemic. Shopping online, playing games and watching esports have become a significant part of our lives.”
This trend can be seen especially amongst brands and retailers who don’t yet have a robust digital strategy. “We’ve been getting quite a lot of traction to provide gamification solutions via our REES app,” shared Kong.
REES is a digital entertainment platform that connects game developers, gamers and brands, using the aforementioned principle of exchanging earned rewards against products.
As for the future of e-commerce in esports, we can expect retail companies to start building marketing and digital strategies, that include esports. “Because younger consumers now grow up with esports, brands and retailers are eager to tap into these demographics, to have them grow up with these brands,” concluded Kong.
To help navigate the future of esports into the right direction, all of these important points and many more will be the subjects of discussion on the Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum 2020, a fully virtual conference by Cyberport, that will be open for access from December 11th to January 11th.
The main theme of the event is ‘New Normal of Digital Entertainment: From Gamification to Esportification’ and it will feature a number of esteemed industry figures discussing not only current topics in esports, but a variety of upcoming trends in the industry. In addition to insights of experts, DELF 2020 will also stage a series of live tournaments, performances, game experiences, start-up showcases and more.
For more about DELF, please visit: delf.cyberport.hk.
Disclaimer: Esports Insider is an official media partner of the Digital Entertainment Leadership Forum.