Vincent Tucker, Senior Manager, Gaming Business Group at Logitech
Why do you think eSports has grown so much over the last few years?
The rise of Twitch and other streaming platforms has provided an opportunity for gamers to share their experiences and build a community around games they love. Streaming and content sites like YouTube have also enabled a shift in the sorts of content that people can access; they provide a repository for content like walkthroughs and guides. These sites also allow eSports personalities, individuals or teams to engage with the fans, further deepening the engagement around gaming. Another major factor in the growth of eSports is the accessibility of games. Many eSports titles are free to play, which has driven a tremendous growth in user base by encouraging trial of the game. Today, it is very easy to try a game and learn how to play without spending a single dollar. It is a very low, or no cost, to become part of the community.
Do you see the growth rate tapering off any time soon, or is there still a lot of headroom in the eSports market?
I believe there are still many opportunities for growth. There are new games that are coming out with the intention of being competitive eSport titles, and there are very large companies investing millions of dollars into these games to ensure they are competitive and appealing to the audience. For example, League of Legends went from 32 million monthly active players to 67 million over the last couple of years. That is incredible growth. Another signal of the growth is the prize pool for The International, an eSports event sponsored by Valve for DOTA2, which now has a prize pool above $6 million. The prize pool was only $600,000 when the event was announced in May. To me, these are all telling signs that eSports has a rapid growth trajectory with no end in sight.
What things need to happen for eSports to break through to the next level?
eSports is already breaking into the next level. You can regularly see news stories covering eSports events and personalities. eSports events have been integrated into SXSW and the upcoming X–games.
There are a few things that could help expand its acceptance though, such as having an eSports governing body that helps protect the players and build eSports into a recognized career option. As the eSports industry becomes more complex, there is a need for a stable franchising organization to grow and provide oversight for eSports leagues. I can see a day where teams have regional or city endorsements, just like the NFL and NBA.
Given how big eSports is with Millennials do you think there is a time when eSports will displace one of the major sports in terms of popularity?
It’s just a matter of time before eSports is elevated to the same level as other sports. The 2013 League of Legends Championship garnered higher viewership than the championships of several traditional sports leagues. In the past, eSports events seemed like they were single promotional events -- that’s no longer the case. Companies understand the need to turn eSports into a seasonal and consistent league structure to help solidify fan support. This is happening and it is happening very quickly.
You recently signed a deal with Team SoloMid(TSM). Did you approach them or did they approach you? What things make you decide to endorse TSM?
I’d have to say we chose each other. It was really a long-term discussion. We were initially approached by their sponsorship manager at the time, Jack Etienne, and we talked about how we could work together and build a partnership. The partnership was the important part to me. Jack has since moved on to Cloud9 but we’d started having regular dialogs with Andy Dinh, TSM’s current manager. As their existing sponsorships expired, it was a great opportunity for us to work together. TSM has a vibrant community. You can hear it in every match as the TSM chat drowns out the casters. We really love the passion that Andy and the whole team has for being the best. That mirrors Logitech G’s passion for building the best gaming products.
Will you be releasing TSM branded devices?
I can’t comment on our product roadmap.
Logitech recently released a major update to their gaming peripherals. Did TSM provide any input?
One of the great benefits of working with professional eSports organizations is that we can work very closely with the individual team members to get a real understanding of their needs and how they use products. We absolutely use those key findings around what makes sense and what doesn’t when building our products.
Logitech has always been one of the top companies in gaming peripherals. What things put the company there, and what steps are you taking to ensure you stay there?
When you think about how much time you spend gaming, the little things matter just as much as the big things. We have a dedicated team that works only on our gaming products. We engage with the gaming community through Gamer Panels where we collect feedback on new product concepts and performance. We work with several eSports organizations across the globe, including TSM, CJ Entus, Invitus Gaming, The Alliance and Cloud9, to receive their input on new products in development. For me, it is about the application of science to help each and every gamer be better. And just like the eSports teams we work with, we stay focused on performance.
In the end, Science Wins.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom. I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.