Business, Economics and Jobs

Valencia to host first global esports congress


Attendees play video games at Microsoft's Xbox 360 display at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 13 and is expected to feature 2,700 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 140,000 attendees.


David Becker

DreamHack, Europe’s premier esports organization, is inviting professional gaming figureheads from around the world to discuss the future of professional gaming.

In the first ever global esports congress, industry leaders will meet in Valencia to hash out the next steps in the industry’s growth. Esports has yet to become a household name, but with the aid of live internet streaming, fans and leaders are coming together in an attempt to make professional gaming a breakfast table topic of conversation.

“Esports has arrived as a major force in the video game and entertainment industries,” said Kevin Lin, COO of Twitch, one of the world’s largest live streaming web platforms. 

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“There is a need for the entire eSports ecosystem to get together to discuss a host of pressing issues on the business side of the equation, including advertising, infrastructure, competitive standards, video content and delivery and more. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

In its genesis, esports was little more than a cottage industry made up of impassioned players scraping change together to pay for flights to competitions. Now, pros often make six figure salaries and have become international celebrities. 

Electronic sports, or esports, have long been the realm of South Korea, home to the masters of professional gaming. But over the last few years, the competitions have become more and more popular in North America. While the industry has seen incredible growth in the past four years, a large number of fans and industry heads worry that growth has plateaued. 

With a revenue model relying heavily on corporate sponsorship, participants will undoubtedly be discussing the next step for teams and leagues involved in esports to grow as companies. Not unlike NASCAR, it may require a larger fan base to attract both more recognizable sponsors as well as more sales in licensed products. 

Earlier this year, North America’s largest esports league, Major League Gaming (MLG), began a push towards broadcasting professional tournaments on both the internet and television. 

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“I think we have a clear path to doing something on TV this year. We’re going to meet with some of our partners," said MLG CEO Sundance Digiovanni said. "There’s a publisher who is interested in it. There’s a title that we think will work. We’re going to see if we can bundle something up. It’s got to be additive, though.”

The Valencia Esports Congress will be the industry’s first attempt to bring worldwide professional gaming luminaries together to forge a new path for growth. 

“Valencia eSports Congress will be a great way to bring more awareness to esports,” said Dreamhack CEO Robert Ohlén.

With any luck, posters of professional gamers may find themselves on the walls of bedrooms and college dorms.