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Business of Esports TV: Booming VALORANT

(Podcast 135)

In this segment, we discuss the booming popularity of VALORANT and how that might propel its expansion into mobile.

The Business Of Esports brings you news, debates, and all the information you need to know about the gaming sector, the world’s fastest-growing market. With Paul “The Profit” Dawalibi leading the charge, and a variety of special guests, BoE TV is the only place to find insider information on the esports industry!

Check out the full podcast here:

Paul Dawalibi 1:03:39
Yeah, guys, let’s get to this last story here. We have to we have to mention this because it’s another big story this week. And and this is valorant Mobile being announced. And in conjunction the PC version, hitting 14 million monthly players huge numbers from valorant and valorant. Mobile coming out. I mean, everyone knows how big of a fan I am of mobile games. Zack, let me start with you. Just two questions here. One, how much does the mobile space in some ways hurt you? If you if you see it like that at all? And to where is valorant? based on the data you have from the Centers? like where is valorant in this hierarchy of popularity in terms of what people are playing?

Unknown Speaker 1:04:29
Yeah, so interesting fact is, is that in Southeast Asia, a lot of our centers run pub g mobile in an emulator in their PCs, where the players can use the keyboard and a mouse and like, it’s like a pretty popular title there and our overall network. It’s not very high. But like it’s strange to know that players will like can you imagine an upscaled mobile graphic? I mean, it’s just it’s

Paul Dawalibi 1:04:53
it’s sort of cheating also playing against

Unknown Speaker 1:04:57
easy because they have controls different right. So Yeah, that’s interesting. So the mobile market to us like we have seen that when you talk about land centers like what do you go there for? What’s the purpose right if the player just wants to meet up with their friends and play a certain title, like pub g mobile has taken some players out of land centers, especially in Southeast Asia in the market for us because a lot of them have cell phones now they don’t have a PC. They have high speed at home but pub g mobile is pretty good. So I expect valerate Mobile to be very popular. And again, we pulled this up before we talked you know, we knew we’re going to cover this subject but you know, it’s very interesting to me League of Legends is all it’s been a mainstay in evergreen title and land centers for years and years and years. And you know, people push it up a little push it down a little bit, it’ll pop back up again, but you know, for last month for us, number one played was fortnight number two, Counter Strike number three Call of Duty and then fourth was valor and it’s bumped call Liga legends down to number five, it’s, it’s a pretty big deal for us that you know, riots, second title is vaulted above its original gangster. So, you know, like, I I’m excited for it. It’s competitive. It’s fun to watch, you know, like they’re doing a good job of pulling those players in from other titles like CES and Overwatch enjoy that game a lot. So, yeah, it doesn’t surprise me at all. And I anticipate to keep climbing I hope they feed it. Like they feed their their league of legends, games with enough content and activities like they’ve done so.

Paul Dawalibi 1:06:31
Well, William, I’m curious, like, specifically free because you know, we’ve been over this mobile conversation a million times. A Do you think the mobile version here potentially hurts or cannibalizes the main game and be like, what’s the what’s the riot secret here in your mind? Right? Like, the fact that to Zach’s point here, it’s already past League of Legends in across the all these centers, like what is their secret sauce here? Right, they seem to have fallen on, like the ability to create competitive games in a way that no one else can and drive real success and player.

William Collis 1:07:06
Yeah, I mean, it’s tricky. I want to say two things. One is I love, love, love, love that they’re doing mobile. I just think accessibility is the most important thing. I think people who are scared that mobile cannibalizes or places I think it’s an IT GETS customers who otherwise couldn’t get and it’s an on ramp for customers who otherwise wouldn’t have right. I think it’s wonderful. I think I think high quality mobile offerings for very good game should exist, because many people can’t play very good games, you know, on PCs, right? Cuz they just don’t have access, right? So I think like, I just think it’s smart. And if you think of valorant as something maybe more than a game, sort of how Riot seems we think about League of Legends with music and things like, well, this is better get your brand in front of more customers, you know, why not? Come on? So I think it’s absolutely like an effect that they’re following it this fast. tells me they had this in development for a long, this isn’t right didn’t just start this when valor launch was like, Oh, you have a mobile like they’ve been doing this for what that’s smart. They have a strategy they’ve recognized that needed to work from the get go right, or at least from much earlier in the development cycle. So I love that. Yeah, I think the bigger concern for Riot here a little bit is where are your users coming from? Right? Because what’s freaking me out in the stats that Zack shared is I would think valorant would knock out CES, I would think valorant would knock out Call of Duty. What was the thing that dropped on the slots? League of Legends? Right. And it’s anecdotal. We’re talking about, you know, sensor data that Zach has chosen to share with us and things. But that’s a little concerning to me if I’m Ryan, because Ryan, his whole approach has been, oh, we’re gonna get competitive games in every different competitive gamers in every different genre. What if they’re just getting competitive gamers, and they were just going to the competitive titles. So you’re in the worst pace possibly are valorant. And I’m not saying this is the case. But it’s got to be the Mac because obviously, there’s incremental consumption going on here. But like, you’re actually just pulling your users out of one title into another. You had people who love competition, who probably would have preferred a shooter, but we’re doing MOBAs. And now, so like, that, is the thing that really is, you know, making me prick my ears up when Zach sharing those numbers is like, this is weird, because I think that the titles This is aimed against, it’s not knocking down, it’s knocking down the owned home title. And that yeah, that’s, that goes to a bigger concern. So you’re talking about how great is right that they can do this. And let’s not understate they’re human. This is incredible for anyone to launch a shooter like this and have it get to this level of popularity this fast. That is like, I mean, only a two true triple a publisher could do it right, particularly with a new IP. This is absolutely an unbelievable achievement. But it may not be all roses and wine here because I wonder if it has, you know, that’s the point essentially.

Paul Dawalibi 1:09:57
You know, I wanted to bring up sort of an end anecdotal point that Zack has sort of disproven but my I had this theory which was we pick a game and this is my own personal experience, right when I, when I have time to play something, and I get in my Discord server, the way we decide what game we’re gonna play is not based on which game we want to play. It’s based on Okay, there’s five people online, let’s play valorant or there’s three people online, let’s play apex, or there’s 10 people online. Okay, we’ll play customs five v five, valorant. Right, like, and so a lot of it’s driven by just like, the numbers you have, because these are social activities now. But the fact that you know, a five v five game replaced, or at least surpassed a five v five game I’m like, maybe my maybe my theory here is disproven, because to Williams point valorant should have replaced cs go.

William Collis 1:10:56
Yeah, who knows? I mean, it’s it’s a tricky one. But I love the theory. And I do think it’s important to think that maybe and this is a little bit of simplification, but maybe we’re so quick to categorize games by genre, right. But like, you don’t really categorize film and movies the same way, right? Like, you’re not a romantic, like, you might prefer ROM coms, but no one says like, Oh, I only I’m an only rom com watcher, right? Like if there’s Oh, I’m never like, Are you kidding me? I would never watch a Best Picture. Right? Yeah, documentary. you consume the media much more broadly. And you know, and yeah, you might have preferences. Like, of course, you prefer ROM coms? like Harry Met Sally all day, come on, stream it up, you know, but like, the the point I’m making here is like, yeah, maybe, maybe what’s going on here is a deeper customer segmentation of users than were actually then then the cursory approach we’re taking here, and it’s a little bit concerning to me, you know, maybe they’re just right style users, and Riot can reach them. And they certainly seem to have reach more with valorant. But then what does that mean for the next title? Because there’s only so much more, there’s only so much of that type of consumer out there.

Paul Dawalibi 1:12:11
But this is to me were like being GG circuits, kind of so cool, right? Because you could probably figure out if there’s any truth to my theory here, right? Like you could figure out when groups of X number of people come in, What game do they play most? Right. And And is there any correlation between size of the group and game preference?

Unknown Speaker 1:12:34
Yeah, the fun part, Paul about ours, it is in our network, besides like a Best Buy kiosk where they’re playing, you know, for and they’re limited to 15 minutes there where it’s free. Everybody’s paying to play. Yeah, so people are precious with their gaming time, if they’re paying 358 dollars an hour, depending on where they’re at, in the world to be in one of these centers. So our data is so pure, because I’m not going to mess around with a game. I don’t feel like playing if I’m paying $5 an hour to play it with my buddies. Right. So yeah, it’s very interesting to look at our data and get a lot of that and again, not to, to pour salt in an open wound, because I know you guys have talked about this in the past, but it makes me sad, because I feel like a real loser. And all of this is maybe Overwatch, you know, like, and I hate that because we really, we really change the way the world views eSports with what the Overwatch league did bringing in, like big names, and again, underneath the hood, like, a lot of us know a lot of the details and it doesn’t matter what the details are. For someone who’s been doing this since 2004. Like the world looked at our business differently when I went into meetings and talked about gaming and eSports after the Overwatch league added folks like the craft group, you know, into talks, so I just hate it, but it also proves a point that men are gamer gamers fickle, right? Like you could put together whatever you think will be long term, but next thing you know, there might be a fortnight popping out that just makes your Overwatch thing.

William Collis 1:14:08
Yeah, you are right, the status casualty and all of this is like arguably the most and I would agree with you, I would actually go so far as to say I think the most important game for the evolution of our industry is Overwatch. It is sad to not see that in your top five Zack, it’s sad, you know, it’s night. My heroes storm is the right age.

Paul Dawalibi 1:14:34
Call of Duty Black Ops is seven. There’s two Call of Duty games in my top 10. Wow. Interesting. Interesting.

Unknown Speaker 1:14:43
Well, we don’t know this because we I mean, we kind of know it in The Lancet industry, but all of us as gamers. And you know, like we have the United States or America view of things that we don’t see around the world as what titles are popular, right like I always use Dota as an example. Like, it is massive in other parts of the world, especially South America. And it is not very popular in land centers in the United States, right, like, Yeah, but it’s a massive worldwide title, you know, so we just, I don’t know it is. It is sad, but I’m excited for Valerie. Right, like, I’m excited that a new game is creeping up into the top five, and sustaining it and I hope they feed it right. Like that’s the biggest piece. I hope they keep feeding.

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