ESI Spring Forum recap: What is the potential for battle royale esports?

Esports Insider - Manchester

Earlier in the month, Esports News UK’s Craig Robinson attended the Esports Insider Spring Forum in Manchester City’s Football Academy Media Centre.
The event consisted of networking, presentations and panels and a local fun FIFA tournament. As for the actual esport content, there were three main segments: esports broadcasting opportunities, SpecialEffect’s charitable work and a keynote on the popular Battle Royale genre. Here’s Craig’s recap.

The potential for battle royale esports

Esports Insider’s big panel of the evening discussed the potential for Battle Royale (BR) esports, the genre of the moment, with the likes of Apex Legends, Fortnite and more proving popular.
The panel consisted of:

  • Poppy Ingham – Fast Web Media social media manager (moderator)
  • James Dean – ESL UK managing director
  • Maeve Finnegan – Estars marketing manager
  • Jonathan Tilbury – NSE executive director
  • Mark Weller – Vexed Gaming COO

First off, Jon Tilbury hit the nail on the head when it comes to battle royale audiences. Demographics can be easily identified with the split between the big three: PUBG, Fortnite and Apex.
“PUBG has a much older audience playing and watching,” he said. “Fortnite is much more influencer-led and tends to be a lot younger. Apex Legends has hit a sweet spot in the middle where the gunplay and mechanics are sophisticated enough to attract older players, whilst the art style works for both and influencers, allow everyone to gather in one place.”
So, what can battle royale learn from the wider esports ecosystem?
The panel explored this well and identified that BR games present their own exclusive issues. James Dean spoke of his own experience at Gamescom 2017’s PUBG tournament and the infrastructural challenges they had.
He said: “It was a) extremely expensive, b) extremely complex and c) harder to engage with as it didn’t have that great narrative.”
Mark Weller brought up the fact the community in BRs got way too competitive too quickly.
“Everyone got PUBG and was loving it,” Mark said. “Then all of a sudden it got competitive and then all of a sudden people were like ‘Im better than you’. So, everyone got competitive. The game itself was in no state, and arguably still not in a state, for esports.”
On the competitive ecosystem and players, James Dean added: “PUBG’s Pro Leagues are running and that is now focused very much on that core talent, and putting in a sustainable ecosystem to have an open system that allows for talent to rise through, which is super important for longevity.”
Jonathan Tilbury argued for the strength and the uniqueness of this phenomenon.
“Esports has become a platform where you can make a name for yourself, so you can start self-publishing content through platforms like Twitch or YouTube,” Jon stated. “In 10-15 years time, what are player contracts going to look like when players realise they can self-publish content?”

Related article: Penta Sports signs UK’s first pro Apex player


The growth opportunity for esports broadcasting

David Fenlon represented Proxima Group with their research into esport broadcasting. In their study, they compared esport broadcasting pricing and audience engagement to the likes of the Premier League, La Liga etc.
The summary of the presentation concluded that the variety of broadcasters out there is great for the growth of esports.
Although, David did include some downsides to esports in its current position. His main argument was that longevity is key. If an organisation is there long enough, they will eventually be more likely to gain investment as more money enters the scene. 
The below screenshots shows the growth of football broadcasting when Sky’s monopoly was smashed a few years ago.  In comparison, competition between broadcasters can boost revenue for esports in the years to come:
David Fenlon Proxima Group

The great work of SpecialEffect

Most people reading this article will undoubtedly be familiar with the SpecialEffect charity which helps disabled people play video games. Many streamers and brands in the games industry have supported them – ENUK ran a 24-hour live stream a few years back.
On stage, Tom Donegan, Events Coordinator for SpecialEffect, told the audience about the work they do.
They have a fleet of cars that visit various people in need, work out what exactly they need to be able to play or use the internet, and finally, their engineers get to work and make it happen.
SpecialEffect, Manchester, Esports Insider
In their presentation, they played a video of one man, who described himself as feeling completely independent, despite his condition, thanks to the help of SpecialEffect.

More ESI content

This is only the tip of the iceberg from the evening’s discussions and presentations. Head down to an Esports Insider conference and get involved in important industry debates to their fullest. They provide great networking opportunities and if you see a member of team ENUK, do say hi.
The next ESI event is a big one. ESI New York 2019 takes place on April 23rd and promises an impressive line-up.
Featured image provided by Esports Insider (photo taken by © Jak Howard)

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