The rise of esports talents as key opinion leaders has seen many popular personalities establish themselves firmly in the minds of many, both audiences and brands.
But this is just the start of the industry, says Charlie Baillie, Chief Commercial Officer at Ampverse, which represents a slew of Asian gaming talents across Southeast Asia, working with brands to create content involving these talents and their communities.
Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia had a virtual chat with Baillie in late 2020, where he talked about the growth and evolution of gaming and esports talent and shared his insights on how content is evolving in the industry.
Here are some key takeaways from the interview.
What constitutes gaming or esports talent to you?
Charlie: Within the space of (gaming and esports) you have pro esports players in the same way that you have pro soccer players, pro sports men or women from any other sport. These are the people who are competing within specific games for tournaments, and so on.
On the other side, you have what I call models of the entertainment, which are the influencers. As you can probably imagine, there’s a huge amount of content that’s created around different games, whether it be on platforms, like YouTube or Facebook. There are content creators who are entertainers who create a lot of this content to engage with their audiences.
You have two different types of talent as we see it, the pro players and the gaming influencers.
You have previously mentioned “an Asian-centric approach” to talent management. What exactly does this mean?
Charlie: We fundamentally believe in the power of communities. We believe that when you create amazing communities, awesome things happen. When we think about communities from from an Asian perspective, we’re obviously in a non-homogenous region where local markets have different languages, different cultures, different games are popular.
That’s how we think about talent management. It needs to be hyperlocal, you need to be culturally relevant for the audiences and the market that you’re working in.
And so, rather than trying to build a ubiquitous brand that is trying to appeal to everyone, we really believe in championing local talent and building local communities that we think are going to be more relevant and resonate with the different audiences across this region.
Your commercial background in advertising. Having been in this industry for about a year, how has your perspective of gaming shifted from when you started?
I’ve spent some half my life in the entertainment industry, working for people at Universal Music Group, working for big, big artists like Rihanna and Justin Bieber and helping to market and commercialise them. And then more recently working in more media and advertising and influencer marketing.
When I was talking to my co-founders around the business we wanted to build, I was personally fascinated with gaming and esports because I just saw that it’s such a convergence of gaming, entertainment, media and advertising.
It’s a place where many, many audiences today are spending a huge amount of their time. I’m learning every day and I think what’s exciting is just how it’s how it’s evolving.
You’re seeing big artists like Travis Scott doing live gigs inside Fortnite and you’ve got partnerships like Louis Vuitton in League of Legends.
I think more and more brands recognise the opportunity, but also consumers are using gaming in a really interesting and innovative ways.
What do you think kind of industry that esports is evolving into right now?
I’m biased, but I gladly admit it. I think we’re just at the start of this journey.
You see these big headlines in terms of growth of esports, like how esports is commercially bigger than the NFL and other things.
And if that is the case, but we’re really just starting to scratch the surface. If you take esports, for example, it’s only, I say only, but it’s a billion-dollar industry of what is between $100 – $50 billion gaming industry.
There’s going to be a lot more evolution. What we’re seeing is that gaming is really becoming the sort of the thread between popular culture and technology.
We’re seeing rappers and musicians launching their records through their Twitch streams. New virtual pop groups, launching tracks through League of Legends that are going to rank high on the Billboard charts.
I think we’re just starting to sort of see what is possible, using technology and the convergence of these games. Right now, it’s just two games developers that are doing these remarkable things in terms of the worlds that they’re building.
I think there’s a lot to come and it’s going to be really interesting!