Tablets and smartphones may be played by millions of casual gamers, but up until now mobile devices haven’t really been seen as systems for enthusiast gamers.
One app game, Vainglory, is changing that. It’s carved out its own competitive gaming scene, and earlier this month held its own championships at London’s Gfinity arena with $25,000 up for grabs.
Vainglory has had a strong start over the past year, with the North American Vainglory Championships having more than one million stream views, up from about 300,000 three months ago.
The total prize pool last year was $350,000, with sponsors like Amazon, Red Bull and NVIDIA helping to grow the game’s prize pools and prominence.
PCR caught up with developer Super Evil Megacorp’s COO Kristian Segerstrale to find out if mobile devices have a future with enthusiast gamers – and if more games could help grow sales of tablets in the future.
"Mobile eSports is still very, very young across the board. In some ways we’re the biggest and fastest growing today, but it’s so early.
"We do think that there’s enormous potential, because if you think of the competitive PC gaming community – hundreds and millions of players – there’s a total install base of maybe 700 or 800 million PCs altogether that can play games on the planet.
"By the end of this year you’ll have more than three billion touch screens that can play a game like Vainglory, so mathematically we believe somebody is going to figure out how to create communities and work to ultimately create something that turns out to be a phenomenon played by hundreds and millions – or who knows, maybe up to a billion people in five or ten years’ time from now.
"So whether that’s us or someone else that does an even better job in creating a great competitive game for touch, we’ll see, but we definitely think the seeds of growth are there and there’s an incredible opportunity, one way or another.
"But it does require us to create a game that ultimately gamers respect and what to play. I think the mobile gaming industry has done a terrible job of that in the past, and I think with Vainglory we’re really going all out to prove that you can make games worthy of core gamers’ time and competitive gaming as a whole. We’ve got to keep that up."
It’s possible the smartphone and tablet could go the way of the PC – and create a new platform for hardened, competitive gamers. It could create a more premium category and is certainly one to keep an eye on in the future.
Segerstrale also spoke about how PC companies, retailers, tablet makers and so on can get involved with eSports.
"An easy way to get involved is to find a team or players you are excited about who are creating a lot of content," he added. "Some people play on an iPad, others play on an Android device for example. Getting a player already engaged with your brand is probably the best way to get into it.
"There’s opportunities around tournaments, sponsoring teams or players, working with us and more. You could even get a guild to take over a cafe, for example. It’s a very engaged community."
Image source: Shutterstock (dad and son playing game on tablet)