• Bg Chatsworth House Library

Venue Summit: Esports

Venue Summit: Esports

Chair: Steve Schwenkglenks, Barclaycard Arena Hamburg (DE)

Guest speakers:
Mary Antieul, GAME/Multiplay Events (UK)
Tim McGregor, TEG Live (AU)
Patrik Meyer, Commerzbank-Arena (DE)
Rafal Mrzyglocki, ARAM (PL)

With Esports expected to grow to a value of almost $1.5bn by the end of the decade, there was an eager and interested audience for the last of Thursday's sessions.

Host Steve Schwenkglenks said he’d started playing computer games on a Commodore 64, 30 years ago.

So, what’s the difference between staging an esports event compared to a concert?

Rafal Mrzyglocki from ARAM builds stages for the ESL – the organisation behind the events. He recounted a story in which he'd published an image of one of his stages on LinkedIn, only to be contacted by a promoter in Nashville who told him it was the worst stage he’d ever seen because there was no space for the band.

“We have the same space as the music industry but the function has to be different,” he explained. “Lights have to be TV broadcast quality, but they can’t blind the players or overheat them. Players are not allowed to see each other in some games, so for some stages we build a moving wall.”

Patrick Meyer of Commerzbank-Arena said that from his point of view the difference is that it’s more like a festival because the hours run Saturday and Sunday 11am-11pm. “It’s like a 24-hour live TV show,” he explained.

“We underestimated how much beer the audience would drink,” he laughed, "and much more food is consumed than at a concert, because there’s three meals to eat in the 12 hours."

Schwenkglenks agreed: “The day is so long. The amount of staff you need is two shifts. Normally, you have 400 guys working in the arena and suddenly you need 800.”

“We underestimated how much beer the audience would drink”

McGregor said that the key difference is that esports are broadcast - the audience watches ESPN-quality commentary from the experts. Traditional sports consider it a big threat in terms of ticket sales, he added.

Mary Antieul heads up all esports partnerships and operations for GAME Digital. She explained that new sponsors still have to be educated about esports. “It’s still in its infancy, and inside each esports there are different titles and different audiences,” she said. “But it’s really exciting seeing Audi and Coca-Cola come in because it brings credibility.”

But what kind of audience attends such events? Generally, 18-30 year olds, delegates were told. Mainly male, although increasing numbers of women are coming. 

Antieul said that she educates brands by showing games on Twitch, or directing them to other events taking place. There’s growing Government involvement and regulation, she said. “But there’s nothing like taking someone to an actual event,” she added.

Meyer said: “If you stand outside the stadium and listen, it sounds like a football match,” he added. “But they’re watching something different.”

Schwenkglenks wondered if esports could attract new audiences to stadiums and venues, and most of the panel agreed that attracting a mainstream audience to esporting events is difficult because you mostly need to be familiar with the game in order to enjoy it.

Schwenkglenks said “When we first saw the technical rider we realised we had to do something about our Internet. Not just for broadcast, but because the audience demands high-speed free Wi-Fi.”

There were many different approaches to ticket pricing. One event in Katowice started out as a free event, paid for by sponsorship. But for the last three years, it’s been selling premium tickets to guarantee entry to the event. Last year, it attracted 250,000 people for two weekends.

McGregor said his events are fully-ticketed and that sponsorship counts for 60% of his revenue. The top ticket price for his events was $350 for two days and it sold out.

Other sessions in the Venue Summit series:
Venue Summit: Spaces for stars
Venue Summit: Sponsorship & branding
Venue Summit: Corridors of power

The Venue Summit 2018 was run in association with: