Twitter, ESL & DreamHack – What does the deal mean for mobile esports?

People talk (*argue) about esports on Twitter everyday so why can’t you watch it on there? The platform’s new move will see to this obvious opportunity with arrangements for ESL and DreamHack events to be live streamed on the Twittersphere. 

Andrew Paradise, Skillz

We spoke to Andrew Paradise, CEO of Skillz, to discuss this from a mobile perspective.

Esports Insider: How big a deal is this move by Twitter for mobile esports titles?

Andrew: It’s pretty big! Twitter has primarily been considered a mobile social media platform, with roughly 83% of users accessing its content via mobile.

The company’s live video offering announced in December was really the launch point for Twitter to now unveil its larger foray into the esports ecosystem. Twitter has the power to become a major driver of mobile esports mainstream adoption – more people will initially tune in to watch on the platform, and eventually may even decide they want to try playing themselves.

“It’s inevitable that esports and mobile will increasingly overlap as both industries continue to rise in popularity”

The esports industry has grown by embracing broadcast channels outside of traditional television networks, such as YouTube and Twitch, and Twitter is now another way to broadcast events and tournaments outside of the typical model. Mobile esports are a growth industry, with 2.1 billion mobile gamers around the world and a market that’s expected to reach $5 billion (£4.07bn) globally by 2020. It’s inevitable that esports and mobile will increasingly overlap as both industries continue to rise in popularity.

Esports Insider: How much legitimacy does this bring to esports, or rather how much legitimacy do esports bring to Twitter?

Andrew: This partnership brings a lot of legitimacy to the esports industry. Twitter has had longstanding deals with major sports leagues like the NFL, NBA and MLB, and by adding esports content to the roster it’s a sign that esports are being viewed in the same light as these offline sports.

“Twitter has primarily been considered a mobile social media platform, with roughly 83% of users accessing its content via mobile”

It’s also another testament to the fact that the market is taking esports very seriously. Just look at how much companies like Google and Amazon have invested in their YouTube Gaming and Twitch platforms that pull in millions of views for esports tournaments – over 470 million people watch online gaming content on a regular basis.

Twitter is hoping to become more of a destination for consumers to watch live events, and bringing in esports content will definitely help with this. There’s a strong overlap in the fandom of both offline sports and esports, and by providing broadcasts for both, Twitter could become one of the first places people turn to watch the sporting events that are most important to them.

Esports Insider: What do you think of Vainglory player’s FlashX statement that mobile games are the future of esports?

Andrew: I couldn’t agree more. With 2.1 billion gamers worldwide, mobile is the most popular gaming platform in history and we’re continuing to see an accelerated uptick in the player base for both mobile games and esports. There have been huge advances in mobile technology in recent years, and we’ve also seen even more diverse content being developed with mobile players in mind.

A perfect example of new technology further bolstering the mobile user base is the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is a huge company which has shown its understanding of the level of importance of both esports (with its variety of multiplayer games) and mobile (with the fact that it is portable, handheld and uses much of the same technology as current gaming tablets). This new hybrid mobile/console offering will further encourage crossover between players of both types of devices.

Esports Insider: With Facebook and Twitter competing for viewers, does Twitter have the upper hand as the office water fountain of the esports world?

Andrew: Both companies have been exploring new esports initiatives, but with this most recent announcement Twitter might have the upper hand at the moment.

“With 2.1 billion gamers worldwide, mobile is the most popular gaming platform in history and we’re continuing to see an accelerated uptick in the player base for both mobile games and esports”

Both social media sites are increasingly regarded as go-to news sources across multiple generations, but Twitter has become a real-time resource for breaking news and live coverage – first with 140 characters, then photos/videos, and now live broadcasts. Twitter’s position as being a resource for live content is only solidified by this new esports partnership.

“Facebook isn’t out of the game. It has also made some big strides into the esports industry already”

That said, Facebook isn’t out of the game. The company launched its live video feature in December 2015, almost exactly a year before Twitter. It has also made some big strides into the esports industry already, such as its partnership with Activision Blizzard to bring Call of Duty to Facebook Live and rumored talks with Vainglory developer Super Evil Megacorp to do the same with the mobile title’s content.

It’s a tight race; we’re excited to see how it plays out and what other contenders will enter the fray.