eSports Arenas

A business and technical approach

ABSTRACT

eSports arenas are physical venues where athletes compete for the goal of winning a title or a championship in a specific game title while fans get the chance of watching their favorite teams and players live. Due to the increased popularity of video games, the need for eSports arenas is escalating. Several venues are being built around the globe to host major eSports tournaments. There are specific requirements needed for eSports arenas to deliver the best possible experience to eSports athletes and enthusiasts. To examine these requirements, a look at the major stakeholders of the industry is essential. In turn, educational institutions are increasingly turning towards the eSports world with the intent of inserting it in their curricula. In applied sciences universities, there is a need to have eSports areas and playgrounds.

eSports arenas

eSports arenas are being built everywhere in the planet, currently in developed countries, but as it occurred with physical sports, even in developing country the trend will prevail due to the number of players and gamers worldwide that creates the need for such facilities. Furthermore, arenas or simpler eSports and eGaming areas are attracting the educational sectors. Paul William Richards has dedicated a book “Esports Edu” (2021) in which he explores the educational value in eSports clubs, tournaments and live video productions. Specifically, he addresses arenas and playgrounds in chapter 20 titled: How to Design an Audiovisual Display for Esports (115) in which he uses math and physics to get formulas to calculate suggested screens’ display height, display width, and display diagonal.

Clear image display for viewers is not enough, Richards (2021) argues that “text” display is important too since viewers follow messages too. He publishes this interesting graph to calculate the ideal environment of the distance separating viewers from image and text display in the screens.

Courtesy P.W. Richards “Esports Edu” (2021, p. 117)

eSports Stakeholders

According to eSportsobserver, (2020), The eSports industry includes four main stakeholders:

  • Publishers;
  • Players & teams;
  • Tournament & league organizers;
  • Brands & sponsors.

Publishers

Publishers or developers are the producers of the games that players use to practice eSports. Among these publishers, Riot Games produced the famous League of Legends, while its competitor Valve created Dota 2. Publishers benefit from selling licenses to competition organizers and eSports venues as well as streaming platforms such as Twitch or YouTube. Usually, game publishers try to develop their game to become an eSport in order to benefit from the exposure online and offline, in addition to revenues that can be generated from tournaments and competitions.

Players & Teams

Publishers or developers are the producers of the games that players use to practice eSports. Among these publishers, Riot Games produced the famous League of Legends, while its competitor Valve created Dota 2. Publishers benefit from selling licenses to competition organizers and eSports venues as well as streaming platforms such as Twitch or YouTube. Usually, game publishers try to develop their game to become an eSport in order to benefit from the exposure online and offline, in addition to revenues that can be generated from tournaments and competitions.

Tournament & League Organizers

These may be independent companies or publishers themselves. Publishers are usually league organizers of their own games. Nevertheless, third party companies run competitions such as ESL, Major League Gaming, eLeague and dream hack Newzoo, (2020). These parties generate revenues from buying licenses from game publishers and afterwards sell the rights of their events to streaming platforms like Twitter and YouTube.

Brands & Sponsors

As stated by eSportsinsider (2020), the most shining brands involved in eSports are: Nike, Mountain Dew, Coca-Cola, BMW, Red bull and Adidas. Brands are the biggest source of income among stakeholders in eSports. By partnering/sponsoring publishers, players and teams, tournament and league organizers brands gain more exposure online and offline. These brands cannot reach youth by using the traditional advertising methods such as in TV advertising since this group of audience does not use traditional media anymore, while they are easily reachable through eSports in general. Therefore, eSports may be a huge opportunity for companies who are looking to reach a younger demographic.

eSports venues

There are essential requirements needed in the infrastructure and superstructure of eSports venues mainly eSports hardware and software, high speed connection with fiber optic cables, specific tables and chairs for the participants and the audience and large screens that allow the spectators to follow the game, as stated by Jenny et al. (2018).

Brian Mirakian is the senior principal architect building Fusion arena in Philadelphia. He states the major elements to take into account in the design of an eSports arena, namely: screen time, stealth mode, extra high-tech, and freedom to roam. Bloomberg CityLab, (2019)

Screen Time

Before the introduction of online games and the concept of top-tier gaming stations, there were small arcades and home entertainment setups. The revolution of the eGaming world was not an accident, it was an incremental process that started with arcade titles like Pong. Nowadays, we have all the modern technologies in the world to foresee the development of the eGaming industry in the years to come.

Stealth Mode

eSports athletes are extremely focused when they compete. It is therefore important that there are no external disturbances mainly shouting coming from fans or other sounds. State-of-the-art arena design should prevent sound disturbances by providing soundproof booths.

Extra High-tech

IT infrastructure is logically very important in games and sports that rely on internet and technology. Gen Z and eSports fans as a whole are tech-savvy. Esports arenas should provide fans as well as players with “a completely wireless experience-ticketing, purchasing merchandise, food & beverage” as Mirakiandeclares. “They want to be able to stream the content, curate and capture it.” It is then essential to have a top notch-internet connection, USB ports everywhere and customizable screens.

Freedom to Roam

In an eSport competition, fans take a seat in order to watch the big screens and observe their favorite teams. Sometimes these competitions last until 8 hours and fans may get tired of seating long hours on the same place. Therefore, it is important to provide rooms and social spaces where fans can roam and experience a different atmosphere without missing the action.

New, refurbished or mixed-use arenas

We observe in the big picture of eSports venues three endeavors: Some venues are built from scratch, other sports facilities were converted for eSports use, and finally there is a mixed use of physical sports or concert halls and eSports activities in a facility.

In fact, in addition to the important number of followers, eSports competitions are becoming physical events that attract a large number of audiences. There are venues that serve for multi-purpose events and are used for eSports events, and venues that are built specifically for the eSports competitions like the eSports stadium Arlington located in the United States, Texas. This venue is the largest in North America and it can host up to 2000 fans. This 100,000 square-foot facility has all the innovative requirements needed to host an eSports event such as: Grass valley broadcast system, an observer room, a caster audio, a data center, team rooms and player lounges.

The Spodek Arena in Katowice Poland was made before eSports existed, today it is home for the biggest eSports tournaments in the world. As mentioned by Geeks bet, the arena attracted 174,000 attendees in 2019 by hosting the Extreme masters CSGO, Starcraft 2 and Dota 2 tournaments.

The Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai is home to one of the first eSports events in China, The International event was hosted in this venue. It can host up to 18,000 attendees including 82 luxury suites made for a special experience, various clubs and meeting rooms. The size of the venue is what made it famous. It is an ideal spot to host major eSports events Geeks.bet, (2021).

The Barclays Center in New York is one of the latest arenas to host eSports events. Since this venue was specifically made to host Basketball, Hockey games, and concerts. It was perfect to host eSports events thanks to its 19,000 seats. It features 101 luxury suites, an array of bars, lounges, and clubs Geeks.bet, (2021).

In addition to the standard services cited above, the eSports venue will provide services and amenities that will be available for clients such as eSports competitions, recruiting, training and educating gamers and making them professionals, operate eSports streaming, work with external agencies for sponsorship and partnership deals, operate engaging eSports camps for children and youngsters.

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