We sit down for a chat with George Woo, eSports Marketing Manager at Intel to talk about the future of eSports and if it will come to Dubai soon.
What is your opinion on growth scale of eSports?
Well, my opinion is first of all, e-sports, if you pull viewer ships, we top at around 256 million viewers round the world and is set to grow to 345 million by 2019. So what we try to do is provide the best gaming and technology to our fans around the world. Hopefully creating some amazing experiences. One of the things we know about these gamers need the whole platform and we have our 7th gen core processor which delivers that performance and that something. Our best right now is our 10 core, 20 threads, Core Intel i7 Extreme Edition that provides that. When we say that is the best processor we have in the market right now.
It is a great growth scale. It gives us opportunity to make these memorable experiences, you know. These events gives the community an opportunity to meet for the first time and they see these great competitions that we deliver. Katowice, we have been here for 5 years, but other locations when we go into, its a new thing for them. But this event is special.
Would you advice eSports as a career?
Yes absolutely. There is a huge opportunity in eSports, and obviously ESL. It is hiring a lot of people right now, and trying to grow the space. We are now just scratching the surface, or should I say e-sports in general is scratching that space. That's why lot of gamers are moving into the business side. So I do think the sky is the limit right now, so we will see how it goes for the next five years, and that's when the truth will be told, where this actually goes. But I think there is definitely a career to be in e-sports.
What do you say to those who don't consider eSports as sports?
I would say that they are wrong. I think that e-sports is a professional sport. You got these guys who are just like athletes. They train, 8- 10 hours a day. It takes physical as well as mental just like any other sports. They have their fans, they get paid, they got sponsors. What else can you expect? Its not a game anymore. People that think that will be left behind.
Will we see other games than DOTA, League Of Legends and CS:GO?
Intel is a title sponsor, so ESL is our strategic partner. They are the ones who have these grass-root tournaments like Pro League and everything else and they bring them up and they come to us when the title is ready. They are always looking out. There could be Overwatch, it could be Heroes of the Storm, obviously you see those games here. We are trying to keep that momentum up. This never guarantee that these titles wont be there. So one of these things that is sure is that CS:GO, DOTA2, League of Legends are the top three. There are some upcoming ones like Quake Champions as well as Heartstone, TeamPlay. So we are looking through all these different titles. But it is really ESL that is providing that recommendation to Intel.
Will we see other genres come into eSports?
I cant speak for ESL, but I just know that working with them for a long time, it is hard to mix virtual with reality. FIFA would be the only one I would really say is successful. But we have tried auto racing, we have tried other types of games. I just feel that the viewership is not as great as these fantasy type games, and I think that people would rather watch the real deal. The real thing, than watching a virtual play.
I wish we could do that though, so that there would be a quick acceleration to linear TV, because that's what half the battle of liner TV is because they are not family friendly titles that we are doing.
How do you think Virtual Reality can contribute to eSports?
VR is a big thing that Intel wants to continue to keep that leadership right. We know that to have that immersive experience you need a platform. That again, is with our 7th gen processor to provide that immersive experience. So we want to continue in building that forefront and we have done that with IEM already. We are starting with experiences, then you have broadcast in VR, then we are also doing show matches on stage. We are not fooling anybody, and I cant tell the future. But it is going to take some time to get to that level. First you have to build the community, the teams and the viewership of course.
Will ESL come to Dubai?
IEM was in Dubai, in Season 3 or 4 we were in Dubai. We tested it, and it was pretty successful. We had governments help on that on bringing a server there. ESL not Intel. We do look at expanding into new markets all the time. Obviously its the landscape, which has changed and there is a lot and right now we have around 4500 tournaments around the world, so that is a lot. So we really cant expand, have five, six or eight stops for IEM, it doesn't make sense because we want to keep IEM at the top. But there are other leagues we are getting into in the future hopefully, so that may address other countries like the UAE.
I would love to go back. We were there really early. We had a CS:GO match and it was okay but we wanted to expand a footprint out there and we had an opportunity to do that because some of those costs were subsidized, but I like to be there some day. But it comes down to Intel, where we are, where we feel is a good market and where ESL can help. They are not strong right now. That's what we try to do two, so to be successful they need to have people strong on the ground. So you never know where they are going to be and someday we might get there.
What do you think is the future for eSports?
Like I said earlier, we are still scratching the surface, but I definitely feel that there is a huge opportunity to evolve this. A lot hinges on the game titles. The digital platforms are there, more non gaming companies are getting into this space. Sport teams are investing as well. All that helps the growth of e-sports. The only thing limiting it are the game titles right now. Hopefully we might see the next big thing soon.
It is hard to tell as well. For example, five-six years ago we wouldnt have LOL, we had Quake Live and all these things and then we had Starcraft 2 come in and it spured the industry. Then we got lucky with League of Legend, then CS:GO. So we are waiting for that next one. And if I knew that the next one is coming up, I could answer that question a little better.
According to you which is the best genre for eSports?
It is always the FPS. I think FPS is more intuitive, the fantasy MOBA titles will always be popular. But then again it is just tough to get to linear TV because people don't understand, it is a harder learner curve. FPS is easier, but they are looking at family friendly titles, so its a tough thing. I know they don't come up as real sports and there is limitations there. So that is why there is a huge discussion, and these are good questions, where e-sports will be in a few years. But definitely you have the viewership. We are very happy, and its not like it is a no now. People are watching other people play video games.
We would like to thank Intel and George Woo for the opportunity.