Esports are simply inescapable in 2019. There’s obviously big money in it — a teen scored $4.1 million for being a Fortnite Champ; professional Dota 2 players brought home over $20 million for coming out on top in a global tournament; Razer’s CEO is pledging $10 million to build up Singapore’s esports and gaming industry.
To give you a sense of how serious esports are today, even the Singapore government is getting into an activity once perceived as something that snivelling, antisocial individuals who live in their parents’ basement are into. The National Youth Council is backing an esports academy set up by Singapore Cybersports & Online Gaming Association. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong now knows how to play Dota 2. Esports is even considered medalled events in the upcoming SEA Games.
Still, a lot of folks might not truly understand the impact of esports or even what gaming is. That’s where emerging companies such as Ampverse come in to bridge the gap between the actual gaming world and the corporate (or governmental) entities who want a slice of the pie — a pie that garners millions of attentive, youthful eyeballs from around the world. Based in Singapore, Ampverse was founded by seasoned senior execs in digital media and live-streaming platform Twitch as the newest esports media company on the block.
To help us understand why all of us should pay close attention to the burgeoning esports and gaming industry, we got hold of Ampverse co-founder and chief commercial officer Charlie Baillie. A veteran in the digital media and entertainment industry with experience across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, the man decoded the intricacies of this very new industry and elucidates on why the parents of today should care about esports.
Q: What exactly does Ampverse do?
A: Ampverse is a gaming and esports media company, based here in Singapore and across Southeast Asia.
To put it simply, we help champion the region’s leading gaming talent by enabling them to partner with brands and create meaningful and awe-inspiring content.
Q: Is Southeast Asia really the fastest growing market for gaming and esports?
A: It really is! China is, of course, an enormous gaming market in its own right. However, a lot of the new growth is coming from here in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, where mobile gaming is the platform of choice for casual gamers.
Gaming and esports are highly social activities, and this region has some of the most active social media users globally which is why we’re seeing so much growth.
Q: How are gaming and esports becoming a lucrative business to get into?
A: Gaming communities used to live on the fringe of popular culture, without mainstream platforms to engage in. Today, however, gaming and esports sit right on the front row, as video gaming culture right at the centre of the zeitgeist.
Take this year’s International DOTA 2 championship for example, which amassed a US$34m prize pool, dwarfing even the Superbowl and World Series. Up until only recently, brands have been relatively slow on the uptake but have now started to take notice.
That’s why we created Ampverse, to help both gamers and brands navigate the space and create powerful, authentic ways to connect with gaming audiences.
Q: Why should parents and the older generation care about gaming and esports?
A: Because it is now both acceptable and respectable for kids to aspire to become competitive gamers when they grow up!
But in all honesty, gaming and esports is the sports and entertainment medium of choice for many of today’s younger generation. Taking an interest in gaming and esports allows the older generation to better understand what the younger generation are passionate about today, allowing them to bridge the generation gap between the two.
Live esports events are also a great spectacle to attend and serve as a platform for parents and their kids to bond together, much in the same way as a parent taking their children to see a live sports match or music concert.
Q: Why are gaming influencers becoming a thing?
A: The best way to understand gaming influencers is to think of them in the same way as any other current mainstream influencer, like musicians, actors or athletes.
One key difference between gaming and mainstream influencers, however, is the amount of one-on-one interaction between influencers and fans.
Given the highly interactive and social nature of gaming and esports, fans can relate to gaming influencers in much more interactive and immersive ways, as compared to other sports or entertainment influencers who have far less direct interaction with fans.
Q: What do you think will change in the future of the gaming and esports landscape?
A: Fast-approaching 5G networks will undoubtedly transform the experience of gaming on mobile, and will, therefore, play a big part in opening up gaming to new audiences and kinds of gamers.
Latency plays a big issue in gaming — particularly on mobile when playing outside of a wifi connection — so vastly increased internet speeds are going to enable game publishers to produce far more immersive and engaging experiences.