Super Evil Megacorp on eSports, Mobile, More

Gamesindustry.biz ran a terrific interview with COO Kristian Segerstrale on “Vainglory’s ascendancy as an eSport, and why massive prize pools are bad for business”

European Deputy Editor Matthew Handrahan notes: “Super Evil Megacorp raised $26 million in August 2015 “to fuel the growth of Vainglory, a MOBA for the smartphone market with serious designs on eSports glory. According to its COO, the serial entrepreneur Kristian Segerstrale, the last 18 months have been defined by growth: a 10x increase in Vainglory’s eSports viewing figures, a multimillion dollar deal with Twitch for the game’s eSports league coverage in North America and Europe, sponsorship revenue from companies like Amazon, Nvidia and Red Bull, and a surge of interest from both general and Vainglory-first eSports organisations.”

Highlights:

Q: “eSports as a commercial proposition is still a relatively young phenomenon, but Vainglory has still managed to put a lot of the necessary infrastructure – leagues, live events, sponsorships, and so on – in place relatively quickly compared to other games in the sector.”

KS: “We’re standing on the shoulders of giants. It’s true that we still consider ourselves to be very early – not as early as a year ago, but still somewhat early – and it’s been a lot easier because so many PC eSports have grown. We’ve learned a lot from that, and that has allowed us to grow fairly quickly. The other thing is that everybody has a mobile, so in some ways it’s much easier to have a larger addressable population.”

Q: “It’s certainly true that some of the most successful games ever created are on mobile, but does it logically follow that the most successful eSport will also be on mobile? The culture of gaming on mobile is so different.”

KS: “I think over time, just doing the math, that will be true. However, when most people think about what to expect from a game played on a touchscreen right now, there is literally a whole generation of touchscreen gamers whose understanding of games is three minute sessions, timers, energy mechanics, pay-to-win mechanics, which breadcrumb you through an experience. That can be a great experience, but still a very specific kind of experience.”

“One of the great things about Pokemon Go is that Niantic has finally been able to show the touchscreen generation that you can do a totally different thing on these platforms. And we think that an experience like Vainglory – or something else – will over the next three or five or seven years figure out how to evolve gaming culture on these devices away from freemium experiences, toward experiences that are much more social, much more team-based, about us sitting around a table together and playing.”

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