What is in your mind when someone mentions a business with more than 100 million monthly (27 million daily) active users? For me, social network and instant messaging seemed to be the only safe bets – it is the same size as Pinterest or LinkedIn according to Statista 2016 data. But let’s try harder and I will give you some hints – the average session length is around 40 minutes… in a row! Still no clue?
What about we replace the users with players? This is by far the most popular game in the world – League of Legends aka LoL – a competitive online game created by Riot Games.
Last week, us Boothies had the great pleasure to hear from Chris Hopper, eSports manager from Riot, who provided an interesting talk about the story of Riot and how eSports works as an industry. As an entrepreneur targeting the mobile game industry, I think I have a good understanding of the size of the gaming market. However, I was still shocked by how fast eSports has grown and what it looks like today.
With over 36 million unique viewers tuned in, League of Legends 2015 World Championship Finals has more viewers than the NBA finals, a fact that was hard to comprehend as a big basketball fan. But after looking at the game setting at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, I realized that eSports is no longer what I thought. It has transformed, largely promoted by Riot, to a real franchise with strict rules, hardcore fans and super stars. These 18-year-olds can have countless followers and earns millions per year, then retire at an age of 23!
One thing that struck me hard was how Riot started by offering the game for free as a business model to boost eSports. It seemed to be a crazy move in the era when all PC games are sold separately and there is not such a thing as “free games.” It was the founders’ vision that this game is supposed to be played competitively. Aiming for product manager as a start of my post-MBA career, I was fascinated by how Riot carefully selected the target customers of the game – competitive, hardcore gamers – and focuses every single step to provide the best experience.
I was also surprised by how many people at Booth are interested in this topic. Seeing how quickly the seats filled in our largest seminar room, it was clear that Hopper’s talk about his use of analytics in this rapidly-growing tech industry was a big hit with Boothies. In fact, I am sure they are torn between the LoL quarterfinals happening now at the Chicago Theater and upcoming midterm exams.
If you are interested, too, why not come and start a new eSports club at Booth?