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Tribe Gaming CEO Patrick “Chief Pat” Carney discovered Supercell’s mobile strategy hit Clash of Clans shortly after its release in 2012, during his sophomore year of college—and was quickly hooked. “Instantly, when I found Clash of Clans, I was like: this is the one,” he told The Esports Observer.
However, while on the hunt for strategy guides online, he couldn’t find much. Carney figured he was pretty good at the game himself, so he decided to try making YouTube videos for the first time. “I actually ended up recording videos in the laundry room of my dorm, because it was the only place that had strong enough Wi-Fi for the gameplay, and then I would do the voiceovers in my car,” he said. “Very humble beginnings in content creation.”
As Clash of Clans and the wider mobile gaming scene grew, so too did his channel, which has logged more than 700M video views to date. His ambitions grew, as well. Seven years later, Carney watched Tribe Gaming’s Clash of Clans team compete in last month’s $1M World Championship on the main stage at ESL One Hamburg. During the event, we spoke with Carney about the rise of his YouTube business, his approach to managing Tribe, and why he envisions a bright future for mobile esports.
Patrick Carney will be at the Esports Rising conference on November 14 speaking on the “What’s the Future of Mobile Gaming” panel. Tickets are available now.
From Hobby to Career
At first, Carney was thrilled with making about $10 a day from his YouTube videos. “I said, ‘Mom, I’m going to get Chipotle for free every day doing this on YouTube, and I’ll get a job after school. This will be something where I can provide supplemental income doing something that I love,’” he said.
However, as the popularity of Carney’s channel grew, so too did his opportunities—and he soon had to choose between focusing on school or his content creation. Amidst applying for what he said was one of the top business graduate programs in the United States, he moved back into the dorm for his junior year of college. “I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ I packed all my stuff up, I went back home, left school, and ended up pursuing and going into content creation full-time,” he said. “I haven’t looked back since then.”
Carney’s initial focus on Clash of Clans eventually shifted towards card-based successor Clash Royale and Supercell’s more recent team-based action game, Brawl Stars. He believes that his enduring success as a creator over the years is due in part to looking beyond core game-based content for each game, and rather embracing larger opportunities around the games and the wider mobile scene.
“Rather than just simply creating content around the games, [it was about] becoming more involved in the ecosystems—whether it’s through esports, building close relationships with the developers, or almost positioning myself as an ambassador within mobile gaming as a whole,” he said.
Growing the Tribe
A longtime fan of League of Legends, Carney nearly got into esports team ownership in 2015 via discussions around acquiring a League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) team. Ultimately, he decided that it didn’t make sense given his experience and fanbase. “My brand is as this big mobile gaming creator, and all of my fanbase is mobile, and mobile is this really fast-growing, exciting platform,” he said. “Why would I enter into League of Legends or a PC/console title where my brand might not be a fit?”
In 2017, Carney felt that the time was right to launch Tribe Gaming as a mobile-centric organization. Mobile gaming was still growing, plus Super Evil Megacorp had launched a franchise program to help support Vainglory teams. Running his own content creation business had largely been a solitary pursuit, but suddenly he was overseeing teams and support staff for a competitive organization.
“YouTube is very business-intensive, but it’s really just yourself—you don’t really have a team or people that are underneath you, or that you are managing or delegating to,” he said. “Definitely learning more as a CEO and an owner was—especially early on—very interesting and a lot of fun. I think early challenges also had to do with the validation of mobile gaming.”
Tribe Gaming now focuses on Clash Royale, Clash of Clans, PUBG Mobile, and Brawl Stars, and Carney said that the organization has passed up opportunities to enter console or PC titles and expand beyond the mobile scene. “Even if mobile is potentially a smaller platform now, we’re staying core to our roots and what we know best, and always putting our best foot forward there,” he said. “We’re always going to stay mobile and stay to what we know.”
Many of Carney’s co-workers are longtime pals in and around the mobile gaming scene, and he said his goal now is to try and nurture players and up-and-coming content creators to pass on what they’ve learned over the years. “I’m giving them a bit more insight, with my background in being a content creator and having gone on this seven-year journey,” he said. “I can relate to them, whether they’re starting up their esports careers or content creators, and really work to help them build their individual brands like I have myself. It’s one of my favorite things we’ve been able to do.”
Back Into Clash
Carney’s career has come full circle with the launch of the Clash of Clans World Championship, and his Tribe Gaming team was the first to qualify back in April. The $1M competition held in partnership with ESL, came during what Carney suggested is a revival of interest in the game.
“The Clash of Clans esports push has been pretty magical. I started my YouTube channel with Clash of Clans in 2012, and to now be in 2019 and have the game have its first real year of esports is pretty nutty,” he said. “Clash of Clans is sort of in a renaissance right now as a game overall, especially with some changes they’ve made over the last year. To have esports come out in year seven and to be this successful is frankly, for me, quite surprising.”
Tribe Gaming recently signed smartphone brand OnePlus as a sponsor, and Carney said that brand interest in mobile gaming and esports continues to grow. He had trouble pulling in brands when his YouTube channel had strong viewership numbers back in 2014, he said, but that is no longer a problem today with his esports team.
“Over these years, as mobile has become more mainstream and as people have realized how effective it is to collaborate with teams and influencers, the interest has grown significantly,” he said. “Now on the mobile esports side, where we stand right now as a company, the interest is so strong we’re actually not able to facilitate it.
“Brands and partners are starting to realize the eyeballs that are on mobile, whether it’s three of the 10 biggest games on YouTube being mobile, whether it’s the 2.2B mobile gamers globally—any of these statistics you want to throw out there, mobile obviously has an impressive audience,” he continued. “For Tribe to have this very mobile-specific audience is attractive to a lot of partners, whether it’s an app or a mobile-specific product—it’s a very powerful tool. We’ve had a lot of really successful partnerships so far, and it’s been a really fun journey for us as a company. But in 2020, we’re really looking to level up together with our partners. The sky’s the limit for mobile.”
Esports Rising – Nov. 14 | Who Is Attending?
Esports organizations in the likes of Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, Gen G. Game developers, including Riot Games and Blizzard. Non-endemic sponsors such as adidas, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Jack in the Box and more. Sponsored by Lagardère Sports, and presented by Sports Business Journal / Daily, with support of The Esports Observer.
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