Allied Esports takes gaming world by storm
Irvine (California, US)-based Allied Esports is a premier esports entertainment company with a global network of dedicated esports properties and content production facilities.
Esports is a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers. Of late, it is growing exponentially and has already amassed a large, global audience. Esports is becoming a booming global industry where skilled video gamers play competitively. In the same way that traditional sports have competitions in baseball, basketball and football, esports encompasses competitions across a variety of video games. The industry is real, growing globally and investable.
The COVID-19 lockdowns have boosted user engagement with video games and esports. Revenues for many gaming companies and platforms have increased during the pandemic. The COVID-19 seesaw is still on globally with the virus variants Delta and now Omicron continuing to make mincemeat of the world. In stadia the world over, it is with-fans-and-without-fans scenario on and off. However, the esports industry is thriving despite the COVID clobber. Gaming offers an engaging distraction for people at home looking for social interaction.
In an exclusive chat with ‘Coliseum’, Jud Hannigan, CEO, Allied Esports, US, reveals how interactive gaming is becoming the fastest growing form of entertainment. He further reveals how Allied Esports is preparing for the future of gaming in the form of building an esports venue for today and tomorrow that supports community growth on a local level and content production for a global audience.
Preparing for the future of gaming
Connecting the esports ecosystem
Allied Esports is positioned at the center of the esports ecosystem connecting all facets of the industry with its most important audience – players, fans and viewers.
Interactive gaming: $175 billion
- 3.2 billion gamers – 82 percent play more than five hours per week; and
- 662 million people watched 27.9 billion hours of content across all game live streaming platforms in 2020 – up 78.5 percent year-over-year (YOY).
Esports: $1 billion
- 435 million global esports audience in 2020 of occasional viewers and enthusiasts.
Stated Jud Hannigan, “When we think about esports, we really have to think about gaming. Interactive gaming is the fastest growing form of entertainment today. There are 3.2 billion gamers in the world. Put that in perspective and 2.2 billion basketball fans and 3.6 billion soccer fans in the world. So, gaming is much a part of the fabric of our lives.”
Gaming is a 175 billion dollar industry today and rapidly growing – “We have close to 500 million people that will be turning up at least once a month to watch esports competitions. Well, live and in-person events plus online events too.”
In fact, the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020 worked to the advantage of the esports industry. Hannigan stated that there was a massive jump in viewership in 2020 – “It was already quite significant before but livestream content at the gaming was watched for almost 28 billion hours in 2020 on livestream platforms like Twitch, Facebook and YouTube gaming. So, it is a fairly large industry. The space is made up primarily of terminal organizers, streaming platforms, the players and teams, and the game publishers obviously are some of the biggest drivers in the space as well as the brands that are looking to really attack this market and get in front of what’s largely considered a high-recovery demographic by advertisers.”
Allied Esports – the center of esports entertainment
Global properties, live events and production services that elevate creators, competition and content.
- First mover in dedicated esports arenas and innovative infrastructure; and
- Owner and operator of the world’s most sophisticated esports venue and production facility – HyperX Esports Arena.
Allied Esports network of leading innovative esports properties include HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas (US), the world’s most recognized esports facility, the Allied Esports Trucks in North America and Europe and the world’s first venue affiliate program with members Fortress Melbourne in Australia and Wanyoo in China.
About Allied Esports
Allied Esports was founded in the year 2015 as Hannigan put in, “We create live events, after-production services, game publishers and really we are about elevating creators. This world that we live in now the dominant aspiration is to be a content creator and we are out there elevating creators and the competition that happens in this space.”
He added, “We began our business in 2015 with a first dedicated esports arena – Wanyoo – in Beijing (China) and began to move from there into Europe and North America and today we are most known for what is the most recognized esports venue in the world and that is the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas (US) which we opened up in 2018. Our mission here has been to build this global property network which allows us to grow up and service the markets that we are in and create events and content at scale. We want to create content for that massive audience and huge gamer base out there.”
Allied Esports Property Network
- Owned and operated properties;
- Allied Esports Property Network (Affiliate Members);
- Proprietary events and content; and
- AE Studios and 3rd Party Productions.
Allied Esports have got studios in Las Vegas, in Hamburg, Germany, they have these mobile truck solutions as well and have also developed an affiliate program. They have affiliate partners in Australia and China as well.
HyperX Esports Arena
- 30,000 square feet bi-level arena at 1,000 person capacity;
- Broadcast center and production studio;
- LED video wall spanning 50 feet;
- Telescopic stadium seating; and
- Two full-service bars and kitchen.
The HyperX Esports Arena is a major production facility on the Las Vegas Strip and it leaves gaming enthusiasts spoilt for choice. It is open 365 days in a year and “We don’t really have dark days in the arena and essentially we don’t have third party programing coming in. We have our own proprietary programing which continues to draw people in all the time. Our average customers stay, you know people come in, they play, they watch, they consume, they eat, they drink, they buy some merchandise, and ultimately they compete. So, 46 hours is not uncommon for somebody to stay in our facilities and with a lot of activity for them to do in addition to just watching others compete.”
The HyperX Esports Arena boasts telescopic seating as Hannigan pointed out, “Everything we do in our space is modular because every game we create for our client or partner has a different set of requirements. We try to create something different, making that space feel different but we turn over our space quite frequently, each week because our Friday night program is with a Fighting Game community or our Saturday night programing is for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and very varied requirements. So, the building and the setup and the layout are always being turned over on a frequent basis.”
Mobile Esports Trucks
- 80 ft. long 35-ton semi-tractor-trailers in North America and Europe;
- Transform into full-fledged competition and broadcast trucks; and
- Serve as a spotlight for gaming and entertainment events across the globe.
The Mobile Esports Trucks are 80 ft. semi-trucks. It opens up into arenas on wheels. It is a great activation tool at big events – “We did seven slots with NASCAR this year in North America – a purchase event eNASCAR that draws people to compete and play and also compete in other similar racing games. It is a really great content tool. Everything we do is about how do we create a live experience that will ultimately create exponential content either for ourselves or our partners.”
- First affiliate member of the Allied Esports Property Network;
- Largest esports venue in the Southern Hemisphere at 2,700 square meters at the Emporium Mall in Melbourne, Australia;
- Includes Alienware Arena + 160 premium gaming PCs; and
- Gaming lounges, arcade, two bars, and a Tavern-themed premium dining experience.
He informed, “Our first Affiliate Partner was in Australia – a company called Fortress Esports and they built out the largest esports venue in the Southern Hemisphere in Melbourne’s biggest mall called the Emporium and it is also Australia’s highest-traffic mall. So, they have got arenas, arcades, really great Tavern dining experience and again similar model – bring people in. Essentially, it is a celebration of the gaming culture that is going on there. It is an awesome space. They opened up right as COVID came upon us and Australia has its different methods of controlling COVID. But the times Fortress Melbourne have been open, it has been very well-received. The venue itself is very impressive and has been a big draw down there.”
Esports venues and community growth
- Active participants – watching, consuming, playing, competing, and creating.
We are the anchor
- Proprietary programing drives attendance.
Diverse offering for fans, players and partners
The esports audience are active participants. There was 28 billion hours of content that was being consumed – “These are active participants who are also engaging in the scrolling chat part that’s happening while they watch. Just watching isn’t necessarily enough and one also has to be participants as we create content especially not the competitive content but other content. We always try to engage chat, engage the group to kind of drive that because that keeps them around longer. They are watching, they are consuming, they are playing, they are competing, and ultimately they are creating.”
People come to Allied Esports events because they appreciate watching somebody who is better than them but they also want to play and be a part of that tournament. Ultimately, a lot of them are aspiring to become pros.
What are the biggest issues in esports?
- It doesn’t have the traditional kind of academy-type programs that traditional sports have and so not that well-established; and
- People have to go to tournaments in order to get clips of themselves with the aspiration of getting noticed to get signed by a popular esports team or an organization.
Hannigan continued, “I would say that well we have these really amazing events that come to our facility and we are around as anchor. It is our proprietary programing that brings people back to our venues 365 days in a year and we also have third party clients that come and use our space. Some like NBA2K League or we have the World Poker Tour that films their final tables in our facility. Again, that also brings different audiences, different perspectives and ultimately gets a taste of gaming while they are there and then come back to our facility for more later on. We have got these diverse offerings for our customer base of players and fans and ultimately partners that come to us and want to bring their events to us.”
Beyond the arena
Content serving global audiences
- Properties are content factories serving highly coveted advertising demographic;
- 27.9 billion hours of livestream gaming were watched in 2020; and
- 200 + OTT and connected television platforms for post-live distribution.
He stated, “The real thing I really wanted to touch on is looking beyond the arena and really beyond the live. We think about our world and how we monetize and drive our business and growth and why everything we do is we look at our facilities as content factories for us. Ultimately, it is about generating content that can be monetized in and across a broad spectrum of areas.”
27.9 billion hours of livestream gaming were watched in 2020. That number jumps 77 percent in one year and interestingly enough, a lot of growth is happening in Q3 and Q4 when traditional sports was back – “Yes, the pandemic had a big effect and when traditional sports came back, gaming did not slow down. So, really the fastest growing form of entertainment. The audience enjoy that participation and that interaction and it is all about experience. The experience that you are offering in the arena, it is about the experience you are offering for the folks that can tune in and overall, we get to control both side of the spectrum which can be daunting at times. But, it is also exciting and allows us to create more value both with the consumers, participants as well as our partners, sponsors, etc.”
Added Hannigan, “But the other side of this coin that we are looking into especially as we create content is that our content viewing today is about 1,000 hours and it grows by about 50 or so hours every month with the proprietary programing that we have but there is this interesting world – video broadcast is interesting and that continues to change and take shape but when I look at connected television over-the-top (OTT) platforms, that is really a rapidly growing market and the shift from linear to digital that’s happening today. Allied Esports is prime example of the content that is being leveraged in that space.”
He opined that kids today are growing up with their parents having been gamers “and this is what excites us about our venues”.
Allied Esports Property Network
The world’s first esports venue affiliate program designed to support property owners and aspiring operators in the development and operations of esports venues.
- Allied advises on site selection, design and build out of venue;
- Allied drives pre-opening phase including staffing and SOP training;
- License to use Allied IP and events to drive foot traffic;
- Option for Allied to manage day-to-day operations and be responsible for P&L; and
- Opt-in rights to Allied-sold sponsor and partner programs.
Hannigan narrated that in 2015 when they first started Allied Esports people made a beeline to their office seeking help to organize esports events or build a permanent esports structure.
It was then that Hannigan and his team decided to basically document everything that they had done and put together a Playbook so that “We could support some of these partners and those partners being like-minded operators and also property owners were approaching us telling ‘I want my space to have an esports offering’. In Allied Esports, they got somebody who is experienced in building out venues and designing jaw-dropping customized facilities. They also get our IP.”
He summed up by stating, “This is the principle on which we operate all our arenas worldwide and it creates a high level of experience on a more broad scale. So, that’s kind of where our mission lies and with our Affiliate Programing we get exciting partners coming in.”
Head honcho Hannigan bristles with confidence as he knows the gaming industry is here to stay and Allied Esports is definitely the ‘game’ changer in the gaming space for which they are going places.
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