Holy eSports Batman, it's ICE time!
Once again the Excel Centre hosted the annual ICE event this February, where the great and the good of the online as well as land based gaming and betting worlds meet. This year's event looked bigger than previous ones with larger and more elaborate stands.
The topic of eSports and betting was certainly popular, evidenced by spotting no less than 10 representatives of international football clubs. The big games operators showing off their ability to create compelling, impressive and shiny online game play to commercial managers of Premiership clubs was proof enough that its a key sector for some.
So apart from film props (Batman stand by Playtech a clear winner for many visitors) what are the results of a days attendance at ICE?
There is no doubt that the eSports sector is developing fast, the feeling however is that no-one really, really seems to understand it. One of the football club Commercial Directors admitted he knew "frankly very little about it at all" and as a asset for the club his view was honest yet quite telling in that "if I can monetise those players and that audience then great, but we have no idea if its going to achieve the types of ROI my board are asking from me and the team". The point is that for the clubs to make any sort of impact in this space you need to be brave and really invest in a smart way, but their appetite for risk is low and the reluctance to move too far from safe revenue streams is too great.
How the betting businesses can build a new market in the eSport sectors has evolved very fast, with two leading players in online gaming close to the launch of their own products specific to eSports. One of the operators told me they have some of the leading games publishers on side now after some initial reluctance so feel they have the necessary advantage of "establishment approval".
Will Batman feature in his own eSports team? DC v Marvel? Will the football clubs get the necessary investment from their owners to build a credible and authentic platform in eSports? Is the weather going to get any warmer?
Tune in next week for more…!