Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
0

Gaming News

How Gfinity is tackling the eSports market in the UK

By
Gfinity has explained how it hopes to boost the profile of eSports in the UK, and some of the challenges it faces.

Despite the "vast amount of talent" from UK players in games like League of Legends and Call of Duty, chief operating officer Paul Kent said the way it's presented and delivered to consumers right now is lacking.

A Call of Duty eSports tournament hosted by Gfinity in London

© Gfinity

Gfinity hosted a Call of Duty event in London during October.



"Organisation wise, we have a lot of good companies doing really well, but up until now it's not quite got to the level of say, mainland Europe or Asia," he told Digital Spy.

"And that is it, to be honest. We're not at the same level as Germany, Scandinavia, France, North America, Asia... we're far, far behind.

"I think up until now, no-one has wanted to do it in the UK. Not because of any particular reason, just because there's not been anyone in the UK to take it to the next level."

Kent said that so far the UK has mainly seen more "festival style" events where players bring their own equipment. While "they are a lot of fun", they don't promote and celebrate eSports stars like they should, he argued.

"If we're going to tell the world that these are the premiere sports stars, that this is the new mainland support, that this is the UFC - [I'm] just using that as a reference as something recently that's gone big - then you have to take these sports stars and treat them as they are," said Kent.

A Call of Duty eSports tournament hosted by Gfinity in London

© Gfinity

Gfinity hosted a Call of Duty event in London during October.



Kent continued by citing two examples from the most recent Call of Duty Ginfinity event in October, which hosted teams from North America, Europe and the UK.

Players were stopped at the airport to sign photographs, while one fan and his son drive from hours away to get their Xbox signed by one of the teams.

"That, to me, says we're doing something right here," said Kent. "On top of that, the viewing figures are going up and up."

Gfinity, which recently signed a deal with Major League Gaming, aims to improve eSports popularity by producing more programming on a regular basis.

It recently opened an eSports studio in Richmond, where it can produce shows of "far higher production", with the aim to broadcast qualifiers or friendly matches several times a week.

Gfinity's tournaments have proven popular so far. Its first event earlier this year, which focused on Call of Duty and League of Legends, saw 2.5 million streams over Twitch.

A Call of Duty eSports tournament hosted by Gfinity in London

© Gfinity

Gfinity hosted a Call of Duty event in London during October.



Despite its success, it's unpredictable when and by how much eSports' popularity will improve in the UK.

"Like any business we have a two or three-year plan," Kent explained. "It could go huge in the next two weeks, it could be the next two years. Of course we haven't got the TV adverts and mainstream media backing it yet – it still is a niche market."

Kent discussed several barriers to entry to mass eSports acceptance. One was continuity, where fans must be able to rely on regularly scheduled eSports content.

"It's being able to say every Monday night, at 9pm, there's going to be two hours of eSports action, it's going to be Call of Duty. Every Thursday you're going to get League of Legends," he suggested.

"If you keep that schedule, you'll pull those people in. But up until now it's ad hoc. You have these great weekends or nights, but nothing for months."



Simply understanding the rules of games is also a factor. Kent argued that while a game like FIFA is easy to watch because it's essentially the same as football, Call of Duty is more confusing due to its modes and objectives.

But even at its core, Call of Duty is a contest in shooting other people first. DOTA 2, meanwhile, is very confusing to those who aren't initiated with the game.

"Once we resolve that, then it's just going to blow up," Kent said. "Personally there's no magic to that; it's about getting the data to the user, without overwhelming them with data... There's no straightforward solution to that problem."

That is in part a cultural factor. The UK doesn't have a net cafe culture, while the likes of South Korea and Scandinavia do.

As a result, networked games like StarCraft have been commonplace to the populace for years, and as a result eSports has proven far more popular.

Kent added that once players "get it" and understand how to follow games, eSports could take off because the nature of competing is so popular.

"Be it rugby, football, netball or tennis, as human beings, we love to compete," he said.

"We love to show our friends, enemies, whoever you want to call them, that this is what we can do well in whatever sport or hobby you love."

You May Like

Comments

Loading...