This exclusive interview with the CEO of Allied Esports is part of Fan XP- a newsletter designed to keep you abreast of the latest innovations, strategies and more regarding fan experience across the globe. To sign up, please click here.
With the number of global esports enthusiasts expected to reach 250 million by 2021, according to market research provider Newzoo, competitive gaming appears ready-made to offer an engaging fan experience for new generations of followers.
However, esports is a highly competitive and fragmented space, with the onus placed on event operators to provide fans with something different in order to cut through the clutter.
For Allied Esports, an entertainment business dedicated to the burgeoning sector, interaction is a key pillar in an expansion strategy that has led to the company operating directly or having properties via its venue affiliate programme that span North America, Europe, China and Australia.
“Whether an event is at one of our mobile arenas in Europe or the US or at our flagship location, the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas, our fan strategy is the same: deliver an experience that they can’t get anywhere else,” Jud Hannigan, CEO of Allied Esports, tells us.
“We do that in a number of ways. We work with great partners, like HyperX and Newegg, who help us create an authentic setting in an environment where interaction with the pros is achievable and is the ultimate fan experience. We provide service that exceeds expectations. And we tell a great story: who is playing, why are they special and what makes being here the only place you want to be at that moment.
“Many of our events are interactive, so fans in the audience can participate in the action by competing in the event, being a part of the live stream or winning prizes just for being in attendance.”
Content is key
Hannigan stresses, however, that content is key – and by structuring events so that they retain the interest of spectators from start to finish, a fulfilling fan experience can be provided.
“If we create an event where the format is dynamic, engaging and keeps guests on the edge of their seat, they won’t realise how much time has passed and they will be happy to stay even longer,” Hannigan says.
“An example of this would be our most recent Simon Cup Grand Final featuring Fortnite, where we created a format with a scaling point system. This allowed for the bulk of the competitors to have a chance to win in the final round which only increased the suspense throughout HyperX Esports Arena with everything on the line in that final game.
“As far as accessibility, we often have events that are free to spectate, so everyone from gamers to the curious passer-by has the opportunity to have the same experience.”
Unlike traditional sports, the esports landscape is continuing to evolve rapidly. No longer a niche passion, esports has been adopted by some of sport’s biggest properties, while media and commercial organisations grapple to maximise the opportunity at hand.
Against the backdrop of an ever-changing outlook, it is therefore only inevitable that the fan experience will evolve accordingly. However, according to Hannigan, that is a challenge that the likes of Allied Esports have to be ready to embrace. “Esports has the benefit of operating in a world driven by endless creativity,” he says.
“Games continue to evolve in ever-engaging ways and new games continue to come to market at a rapid pace. The key with esports, though, is because the games are always changing, we believe the experience should always be adapting as well.
“The biggest evolution will come from technology and how that fan experience is executed. We are already seeing the ability for fans to attend events via virtual reality. This puts more creative demand on event organisers to deliver even more dynamic experiences over new mediums.”