Ambassador Studios Reports: 2018 eSports Business Summit

Updated: Oct 23, 2018

Introduction | Overview

Esports Overview: Why Attend an eSports Business Conference

What is eSports? Is that what my nephews are doing down in the basement? Did I see an eSporting event on ESPN? There is an actual business world surrounding gaming tournaments? You mean people are actually making money competing in these Gaming Tourneys? ……. Yep, Maybe, Yessir, most certainly, and you betcha, and a whole lot more!

To explain eSports as simply as I can, I am going to defer to a quick little video here. If that doesn’t work, you can always attend the conference and attend the Workshop, Esports 101: Everything You Need To Know To Get In The Game. But to save time, eSports is based on video gaming tournaments that are focussed sometimes on specific genres of video games, and sometimes focussed on only one specific game title. Teams compete, and the winners usually take home some pretty decent prize money. And its seriously competitive, as teams have managers, and training facilities, and sponsors, and media deals, etc. Its really something incredible to behold, and it is only in its young stages of growth as an industry. As a result, it is a hotbed of talent in both digital and marketing and entrepreneurial spirit, and the future is being molded by innovative small and large companies alike. As gaming changes, so too will the landscape of eSports, so the potential for new opportunity is limitless.

Ambassador Studios eSports Blog Series Introduction

Now that you know a little bit more about what eSports actually is, we can start to take a look at the actual eSports Business Conference which was designed to bring together all sectors of the sports ecosystem for three days of networking, education and inspiration. We plan on rolling out a blog post everyday this week with different points of view from team members that attended the Inaugural eSports Business Conference in Las Vegas. Each new blog will have the theme of eSports, but the perspective may be focussed on brand marketing, sports and technology, collegiate esports or how people are growing their businesses by leveraging global esports audiences.

We started out on Monday by posting a report from Simmons Research on LinkedIn which will help you learn more about the business side of eSports. So, if you haven’t read that, go take a quick look at the eSports Extravaganza and get even more educated on esports. Then, take a couple minutes to read Chance McKinney’s blog below, and come back tomorrow, for Chris Kindred’s blog on his perspective on the 2018 eSports business conference.

Me, Myself & eSports

My experience at the 1st Las Vegas eSports Business Summit

What I expected v.s. reality:

Going into this I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I was keeping an open mind. Would it be a bunch of gamer enthusiasts all there to chat about the latest games, consoles, technology, pro eSports athletes, and past/up coming tournaments? Would it be a a bunch of corporate paper pushers looking to get there hands on the next big thing? Lastly, would it be people that are intrigued by eSports and just wanted to learn more about it, where it is heading, and how can we get involved? I believe I found that there was a little of everything. Not to say one group was bad or the other was better, it was actually refreshing to see that there are lots of different people all looking to do lots of different things. I never expected to see professors from universities trying to learn more about starting their own eSports programs at their respective schools. I was surprised to see retired professional traditional sports athletes, Ryan Howard, that already had invested in N3rd Street Gamers (NSG) — a Philly eSports company that provides the gaming community with arena facilities, production studios, equipment and broadcast services. Then there were things that I did expect to see like big PC software and hardware companies there to show there products and how they are helping the growth of this new frontier that is eSports. Also representatives from the biggest names in eSports developers, EA, Blizzard, Riot Games, Epic Games, etc. Lastly, what was most intriguing about expectation versus reality, was that eSports is still in its infancy! This was surprising for a number of reason but mainly because I felt eSports had already been pretty well established in the main stream. This may be because I myself am a very big console gamer, and I have been seeing and reading about the progression of eSports for a while now. I could not have been more wrong, with every work shop and keynote there seemed to be an ongoing theme. This is still new and there is still lots of innovation, creativity, and challenges to come. This to me just makes it that much more intriguing.

What I liked …most:

I thought all of the work shops were very informative and the panels and speakers were all happy to be there, and share insight and experience in this new space we are all trying to navigate. One work shop in-particular was Collegiate eSports: Transforming the University Landscape. I knew that eSports had a presence in the collegiate space, but had no idea how far it has come. Not only do students have the opportunity to to get scholarships in eSpots, but they are begging to have that opportunity all over the country. What stated with one small college in downtown Chicago has spread coast to coast, I really wish eSports scholarships were around when I was in school but thats a whole other blog. The director of the first eSports team at The University of Utah was a panelist, which was interesting to see larger universities were involved. Especially for The University of Utah who apparently is the first collegiate eSports program to be in a power five athletes conference paving the way for other athletic programs to follow in their footsteps. Before we know it Saturday wont just be college football… College Fortnight? Sounds like an abstract idea now but a few years down the road, one can only wonder. Another work shop I enjoyed and found interesting was the State of the Union: 2K league. I must admit I knew a bit about about the 2K league before attending, so I believed that I wouldn’t learn much but rather dig deeper into something I was already familiar with. Being incorrect doesn’t even come close to how wrong I was. The 2K league is a prime example of how eSpots is crossing into traditional sports and vice versa. I knew teams were in existence but had no idea there were so many and definitely didn’t know they conducted themselves almost exactly like the real NBA would. Teams are associations that coincide with a city or existing NBA franchise. Players are drafted according to their created digital avatar and skill level, earring them selves real contracts with real eSports franchises. One day the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA drafts wont be the only ones ESPN is going to televise…. And yes ESPN has already begun testing the waters when it comes to televised eSports. I think for the most part I liked that eSports are begging to enter into the main stream, and its not going anywhere anytime soon. Lastly I thought the eSport arena at the Luxor was amazing. That its the first eSports arena I have ever been to, and now the bar is set super high. After taking a private tour of the facility it is very apparent that this venue is on the cutting edge of eSports arenas. Fully capable of have large scale broadcasts of tournaments, keynotes, expos, and the list goes on. I cant tell you how long I’ve been waiting to be able to play ps4 games on the TVs behind the bar, and I am glad to say the wait in finally over. Well played eSport arena at the Luxor… Well played.

What I think the summit needed:

I don’t have much to say in regards to what the summit needed because honestly I didn’t think it needed a lot. One thing I think we can all agree on is that the app needed some work. It seemed to get better as the conference went on, but when we first trying to log in and get started it was a bit more than hectic. Ultimately ending with several of us have to use the same long in. Other than that I think the app was really nice and help me pick and choose which work shops I wanted to attend. I would have like to have seen a better tournament put together. The charity one on the first night of the summit was, for lack of a better term, weak. The turn out wasn’t great the pro were al playing a game they were not pro in, and it just wasn’t as much fun as I was hoping. You would think that with all the big movers and shakers in the eSports world all being in Vegas a the same time they would have put together something a little more grand. I know its the business side we were all there to focusing on, but come on it’s eSports. Isn’t it really all about having fun? Either way I was a bit disappointed about that. Now that I think about it maybe a few more interactive booths in the networking spaces. I can only look from monitor to monitor to monitor watching company capability reels for so long until I completely get disinterested. If I’m getting real picky I would also say, in the future lets get a few more minutes between programs; but, thats it no more complaints out of me.

Biggest gains and takeaways:

I have two points 1) Biggest takeaway this space is young and has plenty of opportunity. 2) Biggest gain is learning about eSports from a business perspective and meeting the people that are leading the charge. To elaborate on my first point, I think that the general theme was that this space is still in the early days. I find this incredibly intriguing because that leaves so much room for innovation and new ideas, nothing is set in stone and everyone for the most part seemed to want to work together to bring eSports to the next level. I’m glad I got to see and hear what I did, so I can go out and not worry about how things have been done it the past. Guess what… there isn’t a whole lot of past to begin with. Now on to my second point. The biggest gain is the relationships we will generate out of this experience. I hope to be involved in eSports as soon as possible because it would be a passion project, and who in there right mind doesn’t like to be apart of something like that. I now feel like I have a good insight to how the eSports world operates, and know the companies and people who are in them. It will be interesting to continue to get more involved in this space and I’m sure the same people will continue to turn up. All in all I thought the eSports Business Summit was a great experience and I look forward to what is to come… and hopefully be apart of its evolution.

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