ESI London, the biggest esports focused conference of 2018, took place over September 18-20th and it involved a host of prominent figures from across the esports space. We had a number of main players from the logistical side of the industry, including James Dean of ESL and those behind tournament platforms and operators ELC Gaming, StarLadder, and LVP.
This panel which Esports Insider managed to assemble took on the topic of ‘League and event operations – the unsung heroes of esports‘. A good portion of the session included the sharing of thoughts on the future of esports, including franchising and television coverage.
Gina Theresa Williamson, Host and Presenter at Code Red Esports
Nikita Buffee, Business Development at ELC Gaming
James Dean, Managing Director at ESL UK
Alexander Chegrinez, Business Development Director at StarLadder
Sergi Mesonero, Co-founder of LVP
Alexander Chegrinez said that while esports will have some restrictions – such as age restrictions on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in Germany, for example – it will be on mainstream television because the media needs to please its audience. He explained that monetising in esports is mainly from sponsorship as it stands, but licensing fees to television would help bolster the industry significantly. Content is currently free on Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube, which doesn’t help when it comes to cashing in.
Nikita Buffee used football as an example of how behind esports is in certain aspects. In the aforementioned sport, there are a number of different tournaments: different age ranges, amount of players taking part, and so on. Esports is yet to hit this level of depth and variety, but he also reminded the audience that esports may have seen rapid growth but it’s still relatively young. There’s plenty of progression to come.
“A form of franchising is inevitable in esports.” – Nikita Buffee
Is franchising needed in esports? It’s undeniably a hot topic, and there are a number of opinions on it. Buffee shared that he believes it’s bound to be implemented, but it’s not needed in every game and certain aspects of franchising can be implemented without going all the way. It should be a case-by-case decision as each title has its own unique characteristics and challenges.
James Dean chimed in, having proposed there needs to be a balance when it comes to franchising. He wants publishers to consider ways of breeding success while remaining open if possible and implementing small hints of franchising if needed.
Chegrinez responded by saying that an open ecosystem has a better chance of developing a game’s player base, developing talent at a better rate and giving more opportunities for players to progress through the ranks. He explained that franchising can restrict a game’s competitive scene so it should be considered carefully.
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