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AMA - Ask me anything about the esports/gaming industry (14+ years experience)

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Koenz

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Hello everyone,

After checking out the gold thread of @eliquid called 'Ask Me Anything About SaaS ( I'm Building My 7th ), which is super valuable for many people, I came upon the idea to start this thread about gaming / esports.

Before we start: what is esports?
'Esports', also fully written as 'electronic sports', is the name of the industry that's related to professional gamers playing in front of big audiences for big prize pools. What's big? The biggest live-audience was 40.000 people in the 'Bird's Nest' arena during a world championship. The biggest prize pool to date was $34.4 million. Some esports tournaments beat the Super bowl and other big sports events in viewership. What's very attractive to many businesses is the young demographic of the industry.

I've been on the forum for a while and haven't seen many gaming or esports related business threads. Though, there's many opportunities as this industry is currently the fastest growing entertainment industry, being 7.5x bigger than the music industry and 3.5x bigger than the movie industry.

Because this industry is growing so rapidly, it's a very interesting industry for many entrepreneurs and investors. Famous artists, sports players and entrepreneurs are investing heavily. Also, there's new businesses launching daily and there's still lot's of opportunities in seriously any area you can think of business wise.

I can imagine some people on the forum would like to know more about this industry. Therefore, I'd love to answer any questions related to the gaming/esports industry.

Who am I?
I've been active in the esports industry since 2006. First as a professional player myself, leading to being a tv-host for an esports show on FOX-Sports in 2016 till 2020, an international speaker since 2016 and being a board member and vice chair of the athletes & players commission of the Global Esports Federation since 2020. I currently run 2 businesses in this industry:

1. The first is focussing on helping companies to set up strategies and campaigns in the esports industry. I've worked with companies like Vodafone, KIA Motors, Spinnin' Records and Populous. I just do this by myself whenever a company reaches out to me. I also speak about the industry at many business events and conferences.

2. My main focus is helping parents to repair, retain or reinforce the relationship with their gaming children and helping their kids to stay or get back in a balanced lifestyle. We do this with online programs, a facebook community and more. Really enjoy this as an ex-medical student and also due to my personal experience with my mom when I was a gamer.

Feel free to ask anything you like! I'll answer the best I can.

Fire away! :)
 

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Fascinating subject. Look forward to reading more. :thumbsup:
 

Stargazer

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Hi

Don't go into detail, just a couple of lines for each if you are ok with that, but what would a strategy look like for a Vodafone and a Kia?

Or to generalise; a service provider and a product provider?

Total guess is Vodafone would want kids on their mobiles playing the games and purchasing things from within the games for a tiny commission so sponsorship and pushing messages to the correct audience is their top level view.

Is that even remotely right?

But Kia? What are they doing?

Dan
 

Koenz

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Hi

Don't go into detail, just a couple of lines for each if you are ok with that, but what would a strategy look like for a Vodafone and a Kia?

Or to generalise; a service provider and a product provider?

Total guess is Vodafone would want kids on their mobiles playing the games and purchasing things from within the games for a tiny commission so sponsorship and pushing messages to the correct audience is their top level view.

Is that even remotely right?

But Kia? What are they doing?

Dan

Hi @Stargazer, thanks for your question.
Basically the campaigns I've done with Vodafone and KIA are more about brand awareness and brand consideration than selling a product. It's building a relationship with the audience that will, or will not, in the future become your client.

Now the esports and gaming audience is a sensitive audience and it's about a long-term relationship. You have to give the community, before you'll be able to take. The projects I did with Vodafone and KIA had this in mind.

Now to answer your question specifically, I developed a model that I always go through with businesses. I'll keep it short as you asked:

1. Inside --> look at yourself (the company). What are the values, norms, goals, products, social media channels and usage of those channels. I always do this before the first meeting and while checking the whole company, I can already connect things I see and read with things in the gaming/esports industry

2. Investigate --> the industry. Gain more knowledge about the gaming and esports industry in general, but also specifically about the area you like to target. Know about the 'little things', like how you write 'esports' for example (instead of E-sports or eSports etc..). Talk with the industry, interact with the community, go to events, maybe also talk about the idea you have as a company and if they have feedback.

3. Impact --> through partnerships. Work with experts, teams, esports companies. Get someone in the house that's from the industry itself

4. Inspire --> through content. Content is the number 1 thing in gaming and esports. How can you take your future client on a ride. When thinking of content, think about the 3E's of marketing: Educational, Emotional, Entertaining. If your content has these 3E's, it often works really well

5. Invite --> develop relationships with the community and receive in return. Do this by short term and long term strategies. Short term campaigns or sponsorships can give you a peak in brand awareness, but make sure you can direct those people to something that runs long-time so that you won't 'lose' that audience that gets in touch with you.

PS: here's the video's from my cooperation with Vodafone and KIA so you get an idea. :

1. Vodafone FAM-E-League:
View attachment vodafone fameleague english.mp4














2. KIA - #Sweet2annie1
View attachment Kia Sweet2Annie1.mp4
 

Stargazer

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Thank you.

Here is a 6th I for you.

Interesting. :)

Dan
 

JulianCarax

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Very cool, thanks for the AMA! I really like the two videos, seems like a win/win/win for the gamers and their families, the companies and you.

I've got a more personal question. I've been a big gamer all of my life and used to also be part of the e-sports scene (but never professionally) as a gamer (mostly WC3, CS:S and Warsow), co-founder of different clans and online tournaments.

Later I tried to combine my job as a lawyer with that passion and joined different law firms advising gaming companies. That way I got to take a look behind the scenes and I was pretty put off by how the whole gaming industry at that point in time seemed to move from creating blockbuster games to cheap mobile games and pay2win games in general. I got the feeling that everybody was moving on from providing value (i.e., great games) to chasing money and that the most important point for investors was to make the players (the younger, the better; kids were heavily targeted) addicted in a way that they purchase your in-game items. It had more of a feeling like the new digital gambling industry. I know that nowadays there are some games that do a better job, e.g. you're only able to buy heroes and skins for your heroes in League of Legends but you're not necessarily stronger through purchased items than your opponents. But overall that was one of the reasons why I chose not to enter that specific industry for the long-term.

I'm still not sure if I should give it another shot, there seem to be so many opportunities and the growth potential is still enormous. That's why I wanted to ask whether you've ever been at a point in your career where you felt similar in a way that mixing your passion and business felt wrong as a hardcore-gamer? And if yes, how did you cope with that?
 

Koenz

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Very cool, thanks for the AMA! I really like the two videos, seems like a win/win/win for the gamers and their families, the companies and you.

I've got a more personal question. I've been a big gamer all of my life and used to also be part of the e-sports scene (but never professionally) as a gamer (mostly WC3, CS:S and Warsow), co-founder of different clans and online tournaments.

Later I tried to combine my job as a lawyer with that passion and joined different law firms advising gaming companies. That way I got to take a look behind the scenes and I was pretty put off by how the whole gaming industry at that point in time seemed to move from creating blockbuster games to cheap mobile games and pay2win games in general. I got the feeling that everybody was moving on from providing value (i.e., great games) to chasing money and that the most important point for investors was to make the players (the younger, the better; kids were heavily targeted) addicted in a way that they purchase your in-game items. It had more of a feeling like the new digital gambling industry. I know that nowadays there are some games that do a better job, e.g. you're only able to buy heroes and skins for your heroes in League of Legends but you're not necessarily stronger through purchased items than your opponents. But overall that was one of the reasons why I chose not to enter that specific industry for the long-term.

I'm still not sure if I should give it another shot, there seem to be so many opportunities and the growth potential is still enormous. That's why I wanted to ask whether you've ever been at a point in your career where you felt similar in a way that mixing your passion and business felt wrong as a hardcore-gamer? And if yes, how did you cope with that?

Long answer @JulianCarax , sorry :D
Happy to see you like the AMA! Good to also meet other people interested in this industry :)

Very interesting to hear you got into law and willing to combine it with the esports industry. I know a few great lawyers that focus on this industry. I'd be happy to connect you with them if you like.

I think you also mention a great difference between 'casual games' and 'esports games'. An esports game by definition has to be a skill-based game. The only game in top-esports I know and is in doubt is FIFA, and I know most people hate their system xd FUT has a pay2win component to get the best players so yea.. Many mobile casual games indeed have a pay2win component, especially strategy based games with armies and such. Normally you have to wait 24 hours to build X or Y, but with a 5 euro payment it only takes 1 minute (for example). I very much dislike these type of games and avoid playing them. I don't have joy in luck or pay2win games. And, honestly, I'm not playing any games anymore as I love my work more. As a professional I also mainly focussed on 1 game which was skill-based.

The businessmodels indeed changed in the last 10 years. It went from the FIFA model: buy a game of 50 bucks and play, to a Free-2-Play model with ingame shops that often don't make you better or faster, but just makes you look good. Though, many children want to look good online as an online character can quickly become a representation of themselves and they feel like that. They also want the newest shoes, suits, swords shields etc to position themselves. It's difficult to control or impact this business model and I think it's more about parents guiding their children through this period and educate them about money. Where in the past children would spend money on toys or things in real life, they now spend it in games. In this case there's nothing wrong with it in my opinion, times change. Same as kids going from LEGO to Minecraft (still acknowledging that touch and physical things are important for children to develop motor skills). Now, the way ingame shops are working with often a different currency (V-bucks in fortnite for example) and the fact you can buy 1000 vbucks for 10 euros (see the 'value' difference a child gets here? 1000 for 10 wow!) is indeed an addictive element in many games. There's many addictive elements in games, costs me 6 hours in a course to explain all elements to parents

And with my last sentence, I think is the answer to your final question. I focus on the things I can control and are in my power. Battling or competing developers is a no-go most of the time. Some governments did take on developers about lootboxes and don't allow it anymore. That's good as that really resembled gambling. But I also realise that in the end, a game provides value by entertaining the player. If a game is not interesting enough, they stop playing. In the past it was about pacman and Doom, now it's about Fortnite and LoL or CSGO etc. BTW: I always played games but never in my life bought anything ingame :)

Now, the businessmodel of devs and addictive elements are out of my control. To be honest I also find the addictive elements and the psychology behind it super interesting. But, what I can control is educating people about it and make sure that they keep the gaming behavior and spending of their kid in control in a good and positive way. It's about balance.

So what I'd like to ask you is:
- can you look past the way developers build their games and can you focus on what you can control for the better of the industry? Can you use your experience knowing how developers build games,as a motivation to work in this industry?

Lawyers are super important at the moment. The industry is growing and becoming more professional, and lawyers with knowledge about the industry have an important role in this growth. Also, there's not that many lawyers with good industry experience and knowledge. So I do think you have some steps ahead of others.

I love mixing business and my passion. Every day is like doing my hobby. However, I do realise that for some people it can cause them to lose their passion because it starts to feel like work. But, you'll only know about this once you start.
 
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r0dgie

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Long answer, sorry :D
Happy to see you like the AMA! Good to also meet other people interested in this industry :)

Very interesting to hear you got into law and willing to combine it with the esports industry. I know a few great lawyers that focus on this industry. I'd be happy to connect you with them if you like.

I think you also mention a great difference between 'casual games' and 'esports games'. An esports game by definition has to be a skill-based game. The only game in top-esports I know and is in doubt is FIFA, and I know most people hate their system xd FUT has a pay2win component to get the best players so yea.. Many mobile casual games indeed have a pay2win component, especially strategy based games with armies and such. Normally you have to wait 24 hours to build X or Y, but with a 5 euro payment it only takes 1 minute (for example). I very much dislike these type of games and avoid playing them. I don't have joy in luck or pay2win games. And, honestly, I'm not playing any games anymore as I love my work more. As a professional I also mainly focussed on 1 game which was skill-based.

The businessmodels indeed changed in the last 10 years. It went from the FIFA model: buy a game of 50 bucks and play, to a Free-2-Play model with ingame shops that often don't make you better or faster, but just makes you look good. Though, many children want to look good online as an online character can quickly become a representation of themselves and they feel like that. They also want the newest shoes, suits, swords shields etc to position themselves. It's difficult to control or impact this business model and I think it's more about parents guiding their children through this period and educate them about money. Where in the past children would spend money on toys or things in real life, they now spend it in games. In this case there's nothing wrong with it in my opinion, times change. Same as kids going from LEGO to Minecraft (still acknowledging that touch and physical things are important for children to develop motor skills). Now, the way ingame shops are working with often a different currency (V-bucks in fortnite for example) and the fact you can buy 1000 vbucks for 10 euros (see the 'value' difference a child gets here? 1000 for 10 wow!) is indeed an addictive element in many games. There's many addictive elements in games, costs me 6 hours in a course to explain all elements to parents

And with my last sentence, I think is the answer to your final question. I focus on the things I can control and are in my power. Battling or competing developers is a no-go most of the time. Some governments did take on developers about lootboxes and don't allow it anymore. That's good as that really resembled gambling. But I also realise that in the end, a game provides value by entertaining the player. If a game is not interesting enough, they stop playing. In the past it was about pacman and Doom, now it's about Fortnite and LoL or CSGO etc. BTW: I always played games but never in my life bought anything ingame :)

Now, the businessmodel of devs and addictive elements are out of my control. To be honest I also find the addictive elements and the psychology behind it super interesting. But, what I can control is educating people about it and make sure that they keep the gaming behavior and spending of their kid in control in a good and positive way. It's about balance.

So what I'd like to ask you is:
- can you look past the way developers build their games and can you focus on what you can control for the better of the industry? Can you use your experience knowing how developers build games,as a motivation to work in this industry?

Lawyers are super important at the moment. The industry is growing and becoming more professional, and lawyers with knowledge about the industry have an important role in this growth. Also, there's not that many lawyers with good industry experience and knowledge. So I do think you have some steps ahead of others.

I love mixing business and my passion. Every day is like doing my hobby. However, I do realise that for some people it can cause them to lose their passion because it starts to feel like work. But, you'll only know about this once you start.

Hi Koenz and thanks for sharing your knowledge.

I would like to ask about the psychology of gaming in particular related to kids. My 7 year old has a Switch and would like to join his friends playing Fortnite. I am reluctant to let him go play online as my knowledge is only from my experience playing Planetarium and Counterstrike 20+ years ago on a dial up. To me the difference being it was not a huge part of life, it was in addition to playing outside with my friends, playing sports, etc.

Have you any advice for "healthy" gaming for kids? I know it is a broad question but any pointers/guidance would be appreciated.
 

Private Witt

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Amazing thread! I would love to market in esports/gaming but my industry is cannabis media. I'd assume a great part is underage and it would be a bad fit out of ethics and not a target age, but the 21+ crowd would probably be appreciative.

Could you see anyway a cannabis company could connect with the esports/gaming markets at all.

Ironically, I got into cannabis five years ago while on a poker related project that was Twitching poker and sent me down the green road.
 

Koenz

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Hi Koenz and thanks for sharing your knowledge.

I would like to ask about the psychology of gaming in particular related to kids. My 7 year old has a Switch and would like to join his friends playing Fortnite. I am reluctant to let him go play online as my knowledge is only from my experience playing Planetarium and Counterstrike 20+ years ago on a dial up. To me the difference being it was not a huge part of life, it was in addition to playing outside with my friends, playing sports, etc.

Have you any advice for "healthy" gaming for kids? I know it is a broad question but any pointers/guidance would be appreciated.

Hi @r0dgie, great question!

So, talking about Fortnite: it's officially a 12+ game as you've probably discovered. It's a shooter without blood and it looks very colorful and happy with many suits and things. Something that I can imagine attracts 7-year olds. Instead of dressing offline toys, it's online.

I always advise the following:
- If a child asks you to download/buy a game and no friends play that game --> I would not download/buy it yet.
- if a child asks you to download/buy a game and friends do play that game --> download/buy it.

The reason for this is the following:
If your child loves the game the chances are high he is going to spend time at his friends place to play the game. Maybe it's even the whole reason of going to that friend. The problem here is that you don't know what your kid is doing while playing, or how he's reacting to things happening.

When you let your kid play Fortnite at home, you can see how he plays and reacts to the game, and you can control many things as a parent. Besides that, you can put yourself in a great position to guide your child as a mentor in this online industry. Learn more about Fortnite yourself, ask questions about it and talk about it and make clear rules together (written down in a nutshell, also got models for this). This way, Fortnite (gaming) can become a bonding activity, not something that stands in the way of your kid and the family. It's also important that your partner/wife does the same. Else, you get the situation that I had with my mom and dad (good relationship with dad, bad with mom).

Another great result of guiding your child is that your child will feel more confident to talk about anything that happens in the game. Results he's gotten, friends he's playing with, and also potential new online friends he's talking too or playing with. Showing interest in these new friends is also important and based on what he's explaining, you can judge if things are okay or not. This is what my dad did when I was 14 years old. I was asked to play in an amateur team, and my dad actually spoke to the team on Teamspeak back then to just get an idea of the people I'm dealing with as a kid.

Regarding the 'healthy gaming' thing:
Gotta love acronyms :) Here's a model I call the 'Spel Schijf van Vijf' in the Netherlands. It's been in the news multiple times. In English I simply call it 5S-system. It consists of:
1. Sleep
2. Study
3. Sports
4. Social life
5. Screens

These 5S-es have to be in a healthy balance. The S of 'screens' isn't allowed to have a negative effect on the other S-es. If that happens, it's important to get the balance back by talking about it, setting rules together, having a clear structure etc towards rebalancing that specific S.

When these S-es are balanced, it's healthy. I'd still suggest having a clear structure and rules that you set together. Everything you can structure now is a big ++. When your kid is 15 and is used to the structure and rules etc, you'll have a lot less problems than some of the parent's I'm working with :)

Please let me know if this answers your question. If you have any remaining questions, be sure to ask!
 

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Koenz

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Amazing thread! I would love to market in esports/gaming but my industry is cannabis media. I'd assume a great part is underage and it would be a bad fit out of ethics and not a target age, but the 21+ crowd would probably be appreciative.

Could you see anyway a cannabis company could connect with the esports/gaming markets at all.

Ironically, I got into cannabis five years ago while on a poker related project that was Twitching poker and sent me down the green road.

Thanks @Private Witt!

I love your question, very unique haha. Didn't expect one about cannabis :D

To kick things off: Ritalin and Adderall are seen as drugs because of enhancing focus and reducing nerves. They test for these at big international esports events. As cannabis can have similar effects, it's strictly prohibited by many big event operators and tested for. Even though one can easily use it before and after, it's still on the 'drugslist' which makes things a little bit more difficult. Also check this article.

The 21+ age limit is more about marketing and targeting. The average age of a 'gamer' is 33 years old. However, the average esports player and viewer is around 20 years old. In this case, you have to find a streamer / influencer / team / org that has a following which is 21+ and wants to be associated with cannabis. You'll more likely be looking for casual gamers / influencers and not the professional athletes or teams, if you want them to 'advertise' your product.

So far, I've not seen any organisation globally get into these things. I'm pretty sure they're very cautious because they have a big audience online, including many kids and teens. When being associated with cannabis, you need a hella story in order to convince the audience/media that it's for the better. A lot of educational content surrounding cannabis will help a lot.

So to conclude the answer:
--> No --> when you want to get into the more professional scene. Even though athletes might use it now and then, it's not something they show or market online to their audience.
--> yes --> the more casual influencers and streamers, or youtubers

I would start with influencers/streamers/youtubers and see what happens. And who knows the esports industry would be ready for it in the future, but I don't see it happening at the moment and never saw it before. But hey, a first time for everything :D I mean.. Betting is also part of the industry and betting companies sponsor events.. So yea. There's never a 'no' in an entrepreneur mindset I suppose haha. If you want something, go after it. So it's always worth contacting people that you might suit your product and audience, and check their interest behind the scenes :)
 
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JulianCarax

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Long answer @JulianCarax , sorry :D
Happy to see you like the AMA! Good to also meet other people interested in this industry :)

Very interesting to hear you got into law and willing to combine it with the esports industry. I know a few great lawyers that focus on this industry. I'd be happy to connect you with them if you like.

I think you also mention a great difference between 'casual games' and 'esports games'. An esports game by definition has to be a skill-based game. The only game in top-esports I know and is in doubt is FIFA, and I know most people hate their system xd FUT has a pay2win component to get the best players so yea.. Many mobile casual games indeed have a pay2win component, especially strategy based games with armies and such. Normally you have to wait 24 hours to build X or Y, but with a 5 euro payment it only takes 1 minute (for example). I very much dislike these type of games and avoid playing them. I don't have joy in luck or pay2win games. And, honestly, I'm not playing any games anymore as I love my work more. As a professional I also mainly focussed on 1 game which was skill-based.

The businessmodels indeed changed in the last 10 years. It went from the FIFA model: buy a game of 50 bucks and play, to a Free-2-Play model with ingame shops that often don't make you better or faster, but just makes you look good. Though, many children want to look good online as an online character can quickly become a representation of themselves and they feel like that. They also want the newest shoes, suits, swords shields etc to position themselves. It's difficult to control or impact this business model and I think it's more about parents guiding their children through this period and educate them about money. Where in the past children would spend money on toys or things in real life, they now spend it in games. In this case there's nothing wrong with it in my opinion, times change. Same as kids going from LEGO to Minecraft (still acknowledging that touch and physical things are important for children to develop motor skills). Now, the way ingame shops are working with often a different currency (V-bucks in fortnite for example) and the fact you can buy 1000 vbucks for 10 euros (see the 'value' difference a child gets here? 1000 for 10 wow!) is indeed an addictive element in many games. There's many addictive elements in games, costs me 6 hours in a course to explain all elements to parents

And with my last sentence, I think is the answer to your final question. I focus on the things I can control and are in my power. Battling or competing developers is a no-go most of the time. Some governments did take on developers about lootboxes and don't allow it anymore. That's good as that really resembled gambling. But I also realise that in the end, a game provides value by entertaining the player. If a game is not interesting enough, they stop playing. In the past it was about pacman and Doom, now it's about Fortnite and LoL or CSGO etc. BTW: I always played games but never in my life bought anything ingame :)

Now, the businessmodel of devs and addictive elements are out of my control. To be honest I also find the addictive elements and the psychology behind it super interesting. But, what I can control is educating people about it and make sure that they keep the gaming behavior and spending of their kid in control in a good and positive way. It's about balance.

So what I'd like to ask you is:
- can you look past the way developers build their games and can you focus on what you can control for the better of the industry? Can you use your experience knowing how developers build games,as a motivation to work in this industry?

Lawyers are super important at the moment. The industry is growing and becoming more professional, and lawyers with knowledge about the industry have an important role in this growth. Also, there's not that many lawyers with good industry experience and knowledge. So I do think you have some steps ahead of others.

I love mixing business and my passion. Every day is like doing my hobby. However, I do realise that for some people it can cause them to lose their passion because it starts to feel like work. But, you'll only know about this once you start.

Thank you so much for your kind answer.

That's a good way of looking at it. I do think there are great possibilities in the legal aspect of gaming/e-sports but also later on moving more into a management or VC (thinking of BITKRAFT, very impressive) role. And ofcourse, entrepreneurship as well.

You seem to have found your place already, sounds awesome!
 

Koenz

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Thank you so much for your kind answer.

That's a good way of looking at it. I do think there are great possibilities in the legal aspect of gaming/e-sports but also later on moving more into a management or VC (thinking of BITKRAFT, very impressive) role. And ofcourse, entrepreneurship as well.

You seem to have found your place already, sounds awesome!

BITKRAFT is very impressive indeed, I think I saw on LinkedIn they recently got another big investment. They're on a roll! If you make any progress in the industry I'd love to hear :)
 

Koenz

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Thanks for the AMA! Do you think VR will enter the game at some point? (or has it, already?)

I've played Total Recall for VR and I can very much see it as an awesome multiplayer, for example.

VR has already! However, it's a lot less popular than traditional gaming and esports titles. That's due to partly the high costs, and partly the still relatively small community that plays/follows VR. Nonetheless, VR is in a growing trend and I hope it continues it's development.

I added two videos here for you to check out. The first one is a short trailer of the VR League at IEM Katowice, a big event where most people go to for other esports titles. But it was good to see VR being there as well.
The second video is interesting looking to the future. Playing VR wireless is kinda possible including all the bodysuits for VR already out there. Then, you can change the field of a stadium in a real life shootergame map for example where team A has to try and place the bomb at a certain location, and team B has to defend it (example using the game Counterstrike). People have to run around and hide etc, would be a good spectacle.


 

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Thanks @Private Witt!

I love your question, very unique haha. Didn't expect one about cannabis :D

To kick things off: Ritalin and Adderall are seen as drugs because of enhancing focus and reducing nerves. They test for these at big international esports events. As cannabis can have similar effects, it's strictly prohibited by many big event operators and tested for. Even though one can easily use it before and after, it's still on the 'drugslist' which makes things a little bit more difficult. Also check this article.

The 21+ age limit is more about marketing and targeting. The average age of a 'gamer' is 33 years old. However, the average esports player and viewer is around 20 years old. In this case, you have to find a streamer / influencer / team / org that has a following which is 21+ and wants to be associated with cannabis. You'll more likely be looking for casual gamers / influencers and not the professional athletes or teams, if you want them to 'advertise' your product.

So far, I've not seen any organisation globally get into these things. I'm pretty sure they're very cautious because they have a big audience online, including many kids and teens. When being associated with cannabis, you need a hella story in order to convince the audience/media that it's for the better. A lot of educational content surrounding cannabis will help a lot.

So to conclude the answer:
--> No --> when you want to get into the more professional scene. Even though athletes might use it now and then, it's not something they show or market online to their audience.
--> yes --> the more casual influencers and streamers, or youtubers

I would start with influencers/streamers/youtubers and see what happens. And who knows the esports industry would be ready for it in the future, but I don't see it happening at the moment and never saw it before. But hey, a first time for everything :D I mean.. Betting is also part of the industry and betting companies sponsor events.. So yea. There's never a 'no' in an entrepreneur mindset I suppose haha. If you want something, go after it. So it's always worth contacting people that you might suit your product and audience, and check their interest behind the scenes :)

Thank you so much for this information!

I foresee trying to incorporate Twitch again in the poker culture realm and will see how it goes. Maybe take a look over at esports/gaming world when the time is right.
 

Koenz

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Thank you so much for this information!

I foresee trying to incorporate Twitch again in the poker culture realm and will see how it goes. Maybe take a look over at esports/gaming world when the time is right.

Sounds good! Unfortunately I don't know a lot about poker and the culture and things going on there. But, if you think about gaming and esports in the future, make sure to send me a message :)
 

AniM

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I have a few questions if you don't mind. Feel free to skip any you don't find interesting and thanks for making the thread.

Just for context I've been a casual esports fan and participant (fighting games and rocket league) since 2009. I've played in small tournaments (<64 people) and watched a lot of live tournaments and videos on youtube over the years, although I've distanced myself from gaming to focus on professional life the last couple years.

1. How profitable is it to own an esports team in an established game (League, CSGO, etc)? I've heard in passing that a lot of these brands are losing money in the short term but are in it for long-term growth. And I know some games and leagues offer franchises (like NFL teams) which lowers risk dramatically, and some are more free-market where poor team performance can cause sponsors to leave.

2. What are the different revenue streams for the teams and players respectively? Are there any outliers, like teams or individuals that have a completely different business model that you think is interesting?

3. It seems most games have a shelf-life of ~5 years before the fans hop to a newer release. Most companies have tried keeping their audience engaged with regular content updates, sequels, and balance patches. But still, is this a significant risk for investors and entrepreneurs who are focused on 1 game? The traditional competitive world has mostly timeless games that don't change much like Soccer, Chess, Basketball, Poker, etc.

4. How important is the spectator experience and how can it be improved? I really enjoyed watching fighting games and rocket league (car soccer for those who don't know) because it's very easy to grasp what's going on even if you don't play the games (although I did play them). Compare that to Mobas or FPS games with tons of camera movement, large amount of players, and distracting overlays. I never understood the joy of watching them.

5. What's the biggest opportunity you see in the esports industry right now? Could be a game, business model, demographic, anything. I'll leave it open-ended for you to answer.

Thanks again.
 

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What do you think the impact of blockchain/cryptocurrency will be for gaming and eSports?
 

Koenz

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1. How profitable is it to own an esports team in an established game (League, CSGO, etc)? I've heard in passing that a lot of these brands are losing money in the short term but are in it for long-term growth. And I know some games and leagues offer franchises (like NFL teams) which lowers risk dramatically, and some are more free-market where poor team performance can cause sponsors to leave.

Thanks for your questions! Good to hear you've been part of the industry in the past and that you're now focussing on your professional life. I also don't play any games anymore, love my work hehe.

1) First of all, building a new esports organisation/team will indeed cost you money and won't be profitable at start. Makes me think of my short story I like to tell:

My story
I've had a team with someone I know for a while and both very well known in the industry in the Netherlands. Through connections and reputation we got some sponsors that basically made sure that we didn't have to invest personally. Sponsor paid for the players and trips, another one made the shirts. But, then due to internal changes, the big sponsor paying stuff canceled the partnership. Besides that, one of our teams was so good in Call of Duty they were able to get in the Call of Duty League, though then a minimal salary is a thing and we couldn't pay that. We had to let the team go, and then use our own money to pay our remaining teams salary till the end of the contract period. Would we be able to get another sponsor and push for it? Absolutely, though it's not easy. However, we had our own companies beside the team and it just wasn't a priority and I didn't feel good. My feeling is my guidance. We all stopped after paying the last player.

I thought it'd be fun to go from player to team. Learned it's nothing for me. Also learned you shouldn't just jump into things not having a clear strategy or goal. Waste of time and money. But not a waste of experience. I learned about myself and I learned about business stuff.

Answering your question
Basically your question is about the businessplan of these organisations. Having an esports team in an established game can surely be profitable, as long as you have a sponsor or partnership covering the costs. Now the thing about the fact that most teams are not profitable, is because they're investing in the long-term like you say.

You can have your team of some players, sponsor covering the costs and it's all fun. If you wanna stay this way then that's fine. However, if you want to grow, develop new income streams, build softwares to help your team train and perform better and therefore win more matches earning more money etc, you'll have to invest money which often means you'll have a negative flow of income on paper. However, it's long term thinking.

This is also the reason why so many people are investing in this industry. They know that they're money will be used for X and Y, but they see the future potential. They see where this is going, and are happy to be part of it for many years to come.

Franchise model
In some way, it's 'less risk' indeed, because you split all revenues made that season between all teams. Therefore also the bottom less popular teams get more on average. Still, in order to be part of a league, you'll have to invest 30 - 50 million (overwatch league) or 7 - 15 million (league of legends) in order to even get a spot in the league. So also this is a kinda 'long-term' investment, because they pay this before the season even started and

2. What are the different revenue streams for the teams and players respectively? Are there any outliers, like teams or individuals that have a completely different business model that you think is interesting?

Teams:
1. Prizepools (often a % goes to the team)
2. Twitch livestreams (donations and subscribers)
3. Players livestreams (the team often get a % of the income)
4. Sponsors and partnerships with the team
5. Partnerships/ambassadorships with the players (team often gets % of the deal)
6. Social media income (imagine youtube revenue for example)
7. Other sources of income like a merch, selling their own hardware, organizing own events (tickets) etc.
8. Speaking (if owners are invited to speak and get paid)

Players (a lot of the same sources)
1. Salary
2. Prizepools
3. Twitch livestreams (donations and subscribers)
4. Partnerships/ambassadorships
5. Social media income (personal social media of the player)
6. Speaking (if player is invited to speak and paid. This is something I had as well)
7. Coaching (some trade their time to coach other players. Check gamersensei for example)

3. It seems most games have a shelf-life of ~5 years before the fans hop to a newer release. Most companies have tried keeping their audience engaged with regular content updates, sequels, and balance patches. But still, is this a significant risk for investors and entrepreneurs who are focused on 1 game? The traditional competitive world has mostly timeless games that don't change much like Soccer, Chess, Basketball, Poker, etc.

That fully depends on the game. CSGO exists since 2000 and is more popular than ever. League of Legends exists since 2009 and is also more popular than ever. The difficulty for a developer/publisher is to build a strong community. Building a community is partly done by things you mentioned. You always have to listen, engage, update etc, always show you care about the people playing and you take them along the ride. The better you do the job, the less chance of them 'cheating' on a new title. Or, what happens often, is that people play a new title but then come back again to the title they love and trust. Professional players have a big impact on how succesful a game can and will be.

Investors often invest in organizations and not just 1 team. A organization like Team Liquid and Fnatic all have multiple teams in different games, all playing on the highest level.

I wonder what you meant with 'entrepreneurs' as that's a very global word.

By the way, I do agree with the fact that the industry is consistently developing. New titles are always on the rise and can be a danger for other titles if they manage to not only attract a community, but also hold them close. A great example was the Battle Royale game H1Z1. One of the absolute first with this concept, great stuff. Though, they never made it out of the Beta and things weren't great. Then PUBG came and really destroyed H1Z1. So as a developer, you gotta be able to adapt fast and always look many years ahead

4. How important is the spectator experience and how can it be improved? I really enjoyed watching fighting games and rocket league (car soccer for those who don't know) because it's very easy to grasp what's going on even if you don't play the games (although I did play them). Compare that to Mobas or FPS games with tons of camera movement, large amount of players, and distracting overlays. I never understood the joy of watching them.

Spectator experience is part of establishing a strong community so it is very important that the quality is good. However, it also depends on the target audience. Rocket League, FIFA, Streetfighter, all games that are indeed very easy to follow for everyone. I also advice the Esports Liaison Group (in connection with the IOC and the president, Thomas Bach), and this is the reason why it's good for the Olympics to start with an easy to understand game to attract more people in the community. Eventually, these people will find other games, some will trigger their interest and some not.

It's also personal preference. I love fast-paced gameplay. CSGO matches are great fun, but I also like Rocket league and Trackmania. Every game consists of certain elements that will attract a person, or will not attract a person.

Games like CSGO and LoL might be more difficult to follow for people seeing these games for the first time. Some might click away, others might be intrigued about what's happening and will start playing themselves because they want to know more. It's also about a low threshold. CSGO is, by its foundations, very easy to understand not focussing on the economy. It's all about placing the bomb or defending it, or killing the other team members. LoL is about destroying the base of the opponent. When this clicks with a viewer, they might do more research or try themselves.

5. What's the biggest opportunity you see in the esports industry right now? Could be a game, business model, demographic, anything. I'll leave it open-ended for you to answer.

Good question. The biggest opportunities now have to do with establishing structures for the industry. The industry is not very well structured and that's something that's changing. Currently things that are hot are like:
1. Local esports clubs
2. Developing esports study programs (or education about this industry in general)
3. Developing legal stuff
4. Things to do with foundations and federations
5. Have shopping centers with gaming locations for entertainment
6. Develop good league systems
7. Things to do with gaming addiction and problems

Also, other big ones are mobile gaming (as this is just become more and more popular each year), VR gaming (even though it's still expensive, it will increase in popularity and costs will go down more and more), active esports (basically VR or Augmented reality (AR) where you physically move a lot when playing matches against others)

Long post :) If you have any questions, make sure to ask them!
 

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Koenz

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What do you think the impact of blockchain/cryptocurrency will be for gaming and eSports?

I like to start saying that I don't know too much about blockchain and cryptocurrency. So take my answer with a pinch of salt :)

Blockchain: I do think this can make a positive impact. I think it will be useful to make certain processes easier and innovate the industry. Possibly also make it safer avoiding fraud. Besides that, the young generation is tech savvy.

Cryptocurrency: there is a small trend but nothing spectacular. It's difficult to see how cryptocurrency will develop (besides the fact I don't know too much about cryptocurrencies). I do know that Twitch accepts cryptocurrencies and the platform Dlive also accepts cryptocurrencies. Now I'm not an expert, but cryptocurrencies can be a bit difficult to trust due to fluctuations.

If you know more about these industries and also a bit about gaming/esports, I'd be interested in knowing what you think :D
 

AniM

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Thanks for the in-depth answer @Koenz

Re: the profitability of the teams, I think that the long-term growth potential of the industry is fantastic but it's not going to become huge until all these teams figure out how to cash-flow without waiting years for that return.

I also personally think that a lot of these brands are just copying each other with how they monetize and there's room for a lot more creative stuff like info-publishing, online courses, apparel, JV deals with sponsors, etc.

As a personal reflection I saw Street Fighter and the fighting game community go from completely grassroots and community-driven to becoming "eSports" sanitized and having Capcom (the game developer) and other brands hosting tournaments. Money poured in and people had to clean up their act, less cursing, less beefs, etc. This made the scene lose a lot of flavor and authenticity which I found sad, but at least the top players were able to make a living.

Another thing I noticed is that most of these companies got sponsorships and affiliates for very obvious low-hanging fruit products. It's like they asked, "what do male gamers aged 18-35 buy?" and their answer was... "monitors, keyboards, controllers, and energy drinks!". Slowly I've seen other companies get involved but they're still barely tapping into this market.

The better they understand their audiences the more they'll realize there is virtually endless amount of things to sell to them that have nothing to do with games. What else does this demographic care about or buy? Are some of them buying homes, do they have pets, do they have other hobbies? These are questions that these companies were not asking a decade ago but are now paying attention to.

As you mentioned companies like Vodafone, Kia, Renault, etc are seeing that potential. I think there's a huge opportunity for financial services companies like Capital One, Fidelity, etc to get in this market as well.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge :)
 

Ocean Man

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Thank you for sharing a lot of knowledge, @Koenz. You've given a lot and written comprehensive replies to many of the members here. My question isn't about e-sports but more so what're you doing now and how can I or someone at the forum help you?
 

Koenz

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Thanks for the in-depth answer @Koenz

Re: the profitability of the teams, I think that the long-term growth potential of the industry is fantastic but it's not going to become huge until all these teams figure out how to cash-flow without waiting years for that return.

I also personally think that a lot of these brands are just copying each other with how they monetize and there's room for a lot more creative stuff like info-publishing, online courses, apparel, JV deals with sponsors, etc.

As a personal reflection I saw Street Fighter and the fighting game community go from completely grassroots and community-driven to becoming "eSports" sanitized and having Capcom (the game developer) and other brands hosting tournaments. Money poured in and people had to clean up their act, less cursing, less beefs, etc. This made the scene lose a lot of flavor and authenticity which I found sad, but at least the top players were able to make a living.

Another thing I noticed is that most of these companies got sponsorships and affiliates for very obvious low-hanging fruit products. It's like they asked, "what do male gamers aged 18-35 buy?" and their answer was... "monitors, keyboards, controllers, and energy drinks!". Slowly I've seen other companies get involved but they're still barely tapping into this market.

The better they understand their audiences the more they'll realize there is virtually endless amount of things to sell to them that have nothing to do with games. What else does this demographic care about or buy? Are some of them buying homes, do they have pets, do they have other hobbies? These are questions that these companies were not asking a decade ago but are now paying attention to.

As you mentioned companies like Vodafone, Kia, Renault, etc are seeing that potential. I think there's a huge opportunity for financial services companies like Capital One, Fidelity, etc to get in this market as well.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge :)

Yea it will take a while before they'll run positive numbers and become really big. I do think that they're following the path of football clubs looking at how big and famous these teams can be and ways to monetize the audience. Great thing with esports is, is that there's more ways to monetize the audience, also online. I know Rogue has a clubmembership and also a youth academy. Looking forward to seeing new ways in the future.

And yea, some flair is lost in the professionalization of the industry I suppose. At the same time, it's good to see that the developer is engaging with the community. Also, with a community with less beef and cursing comes a better reputation to the ''outside world'', which benefits the industry in a whole I'd say.

Companies indeed have many options and I always say that any company can be part of this industry really, in one way or another. I'm sure we'll see more and more variety in the industry, talking about sponsors, campaigns, businesses etc.

Everything you just mentioned are also opportunities by the way. I look forward to a future execution/progress thread of you building a business in this industry haha ;)
 

Koenz

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Thank you for sharing a lot of knowledge, @Koenz. You've given a lot and written comprehensive replies to many of the members here. My question isn't about e-sports but more so what're you doing now and how can I or someone at the forum help you?

Appreciate your question and support @Ocean Man! Thank you.
In order to know what I'm doing now, I'd like to direct you to the execution/progress thread that I just made a few minutes ago. Click here for the thread.

Currently I'm doubting about the price of our products (see the execution thread). I'm quite new to building businesses and business development. What to focus on each time. There's still many things to do as well with the limiting factor being time:
1. SEO
2. Launch our marketing campaigns
3. Possibly launch a YT channel for organic reach
4. Better copywriting
5. Improve courses with exercises and summaries
6. Make a version 2 of our multi-week program
7. Translate our website and courses to English
8. Partnerships with municipalities, addiction clinics, businesses

I just take things as they come and focus on different things each time.

I hope people will learn and enjoy from my execution/progress thread, and that some are willing to think with me about certain things I have difficulty with or might be interesting business wise :)

Again, appreciate your post and thanks for asking about help!
 

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Hey Koenz, great AMA and incredible journey on the gaming industry.

I've always loved the competitive aspects of eletronic games, since I was a kid. Played and won some CS/LOL tournaments in my school/city. Awesome days.

There's something i've always wanted to ask to someone so close to e-sports.

Is cold hands or sweaty hands a real problem to be solved for pro players, or maybe players in general? Or the mechanisms used nowadays as the Heat bags for cold hands and just the towell for sweaty hands is already enough?

Thank you!
 

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VR has already! However, it's a lot less popular than traditional gaming and esports titles. That's due to partly the high costs, and partly the still relatively small community that plays/follows VR. Nonetheless, VR is in a growing trend and I hope it continues it's development.

I added two videos here for you to check out. The first one is a short trailer of the VR League at IEM Katowice, a big event where most people go to for other esports titles. But it was good to see VR being there as well.
The second video is interesting looking to the future. Playing VR wireless is kinda possible including all the bodysuits for VR already out there. Then, you can change the field of a stadium in a real life shootergame map for example where team A has to try and place the bomb at a certain location, and team B has to defend it (example using the game Counterstrike). People have to run around and hide etc, would be a good spectacle.



That's interesting! There's this place made on a warehouse where you get to play a shooter and walk around with the bodysuit, 5 vs 5. The graphics were pretty basic, surely because you can't carry much power in the bodysuit as of right now.. but it was funnnnn
 

Koenz

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That's interesting! There's this place made on a warehouse where you get to play a shooter and walk around with the bodysuit, 5 vs 5. The graphics were pretty basic, surely because you can't carry much power in the bodysuit as of right now.. but it was funnnnn

A matter of time before technology will be able to cope with everything and up all the graphics :D
 

r0dgie

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Hi @r0dgie, great question!

So, talking about Fortnite: it's officially a 12+ game as you've probably discovered. It's a shooter without blood and it looks very colorful and happy with many suits and things. Something that I can imagine attracts 7-year olds. Instead of dressing offline toys, it's online.

I always advise the following:
- If a child asks you to download/buy a game and no friends play that game --> I would not download/buy it yet.
- if a child asks you to download/buy a game and friends do play that game --> download/buy it.

The reason for this is the following:
If your child loves the game the chances are high he is going to spend time at his friends place to play the game. Maybe it's even the whole reason of going to that friend. The problem here is that you don't know what your kid is doing while playing, or how he's reacting to things happening.

When you let your kid play Fortnite at home, you can see how he plays and reacts to the game, and you can control many things as a parent. Besides that, you can put yourself in a great position to guide your child as a mentor in this online industry. Learn more about Fortnite yourself, ask questions about it and talk about it and make clear rules together (written down in a nutshell, also got models for this). This way, Fortnite (gaming) can become a bonding activity, not something that stands in the way of your kid and the family. It's also important that your partner/wife does the same. Else, you get the situation that I had with my mom and dad (good relationship with dad, bad with mom).

Another great result of guiding your child is that your child will feel more confident to talk about anything that happens in the game. Results he's gotten, friends he's playing with, and also potential new online friends he's talking too or playing with. Showing interest in these new friends is also important and based on what he's explaining, you can judge if things are okay or not. This is what my dad did when I was 14 years old. I was asked to play in an amateur team, and my dad actually spoke to the team on Teamspeak back then to just get an idea of the people I'm dealing with as a kid.

Regarding the 'healthy gaming' thing:
Gotta love acronyms :) Here's a model I call the 'Spel Schijf van Vijf' in the Netherlands. It's been in the news multiple times. In English I simply call it 5S-system. It consists of:
1. Sleep
2. Study
3. Sports
4. Social life
5. Screens

These 5S-es have to be in a healthy balance. The S of 'screens' isn't allowed to have a negative effect on the other S-es. If that happens, it's important to get the balance back by talking about it, setting rules together, having a clear structure etc towards rebalancing that specific S.

When these S-es are balanced, it's healthy. I'd still suggest having a clear structure and rules that you set together. Everything you can structure now is a big ++. When your kid is 15 and is used to the structure and rules etc, you'll have a lot less problems than some of the parent's I'm working with :)

Please let me know if this answers your question. If you have any remaining questions, be sure to ask!

Thanks for the detailed response. I will share this with my wife and see how we can implement it.

Cheers
 

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