For serious video game players, winning isn’t everything – it’s the only thing. Whether that means defusing bombs, destroying the nexus, or pushing the payload, today’s players are turning to places such as Reddit and YouTube to find that competitive advantage.
In today’s esports and gaming space, there are resources available to players to help them achieve their video game playing goals. Videos, guides, and more are being produced by both professional players and fans who want to help players take their game to the next level. Some, though, are still looking for more.
Companies such as ProGuides, which recently raised a $5M USD seed investment, are attempting to create a multiple-game learning system that includes a library of “how to” videos from professional players, to hiring coaches who can either analyze submitted videos or go live with players to watch them play and give feedback.
“For example, Mike, my buddy is way better than me, right?” Gabriel del Rio, public relations manager for ProGuides told The Esports Observer. “If I want to maintain, if I want to stay in that conversation, and I still want to play with them, I have to get better just because they’re leveling up faster than I am.”
To fulfill that need, websites such as Gamer Sensei, CS:GO Boost [Counter-Strike: Global Offensive], The Esports Coach, and others have developed. And as other websites have built their catalogs of coaches, videos, and guides, ProGuides made two strategic decisions that have made it easier for the company to draw in top-tier talent as coaches.
“We want to push the boundary of what it means to produce content in this industry,” Co-Founder and COO of ProGuides, Kristoph Oedman said. “And as you can see right there [Oedman points, indicating the location of his next-door neighbor], behind that wall is actually Riot Games’ studios. This gives us the opportunity to bring in professional players from that ecosystem and conduct interviews in a very professional environment.”
The ProGuides studio is 200 yards from where Riot Games plays its League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) matches for North America. And what Oedman is referring to when he says“ professional environment” is the studio that was built using part of the $5M in seed money the company raised — the second part of the equation for ProGuides.
“We’re working on different product lines that the studio can actually be involved with directly at ProGuides.com to serve these users,” said Sam Wang, CEO of ProGuides. “Whether it’s related to the coaching directly or it’s related to working with the pros and creating different kinds of content on that.”
And while making the best strategic decisions gives companies such as ProGuides a better chance of succeeding, there have been some very popular coaching websites that have failed because of costs involved and the effort needed in maintaining; for example, a site like Boomeo, which was backed by WME-IMG.
Boomeo boasted some of the biggest names in Counter-Strike such as Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, Richard “shox” Papillon, and Kenny “KennyS” Schrub. The draw to this site was that patrons could play on its practice servers while being coached. However, when the site was unexpectedly shut down, one of the reasons was it was too expensive, inside sources said.
However, Oedman believes there are other reasons why coaching websites have failed and that ProGuides will succeed–community engagement.
Oedman’s strategy is to simply engage with people, something he says most businesses fail to do.
“We essentially ask users to inquire by asking questions, and then we’ll read your comment and engage with them on a level that’s not just in passing.”
Maintaining that level of audience engagement can become expensive over time with all of the hours put in by staff. And while ProGuides does look to combat and offset expenses, one thing the company hasn’t done yet is take on any sponsors.
“We would love to offset costs by doing product integration,” Oedman said. “I think if you look at Riot for example, they put Alienware in front of their videos. They’re a premium brand and we want to enter that space. We’re looking for brands with the right fit for us.”
In searching for the right partners, ProGuides has to stay away from brands that interfere with their coaches’ personal deals.
“Product placement is really important. When you have an instructor talking about performance, it’s a seamless integration to position a high-performance PC, high-performance mouse, and keyboards,” Oedman said. “Screen real estate’s important.”
If ProGuides’ YouTube video tutorial viewership numbers are any indication, the company’s three-pronged approach appears to be working as interest in esports and gaming continues to rise. In fact, video games and esports as an entertainment medium continues to grow, with Newzoo reporting that the global esports audience will reach 495M in 2020; that’s 14% of the world’s population, with more than 180M of those fans considered esports enthusiasts. As the number of fans grow, so does the number of people playing video games. And that groundswell of enthusiasts does not appear to be diminishing anytime soon.
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