The head of Tencent Games’ North American publishing team, Neo Liu is a busy chap so when he says his focus on Pub G mobile and developing it as an eSport, you best take him seriously. Of course, he is realistic in his aspirations and realises that mobile eSports has a long way to go before it is in the same bracket as its PC and console-based cousins.
So what does this mean for Pub G?
Liu commented: “In the US or the North American market, console and PC are still dominating. A lot of players use these devices, but the trend with mobile users is increasing and especially as more people have affordable mobile devices, more people will want to enjoy games on them.”
Liu likened the situation in the west to what happened in China where mobile eSports has really gained some traction. He points out that the audiences are slightly different and that games on mobile devices tend to be a slightly quicker pace. Liu used a clever analogy likening it to how some people prefer movies and some people like to binge-watch reality TV.
Liu is targeting more casual gamers, but conventional wisdom dictates that if somebody is gaming casually then they probably won’t have the skills to play competitively. So it was put to him that he is targeting a demographic that doesn’t exist. His comeback was to say:
“We don’t think we’re advocating users to be more hardcore,” he added, “It’s not necessary for them to play two hours every day and need to keep grinding their skills to be pro gamers. We just want them to enjoy the game and the eSports content, to keep a good, healthy ecosystem around the game… We’re not trying to pressure them to be pro gamers, because, like any sport, it’s always a pyramid. The top players are at the very top, but we need a foundation for that where more people can join into and enjoy events.”
It is because of this his company are working on both the top end and the lower-ranked player base. While Pub G has huge tournaments for the top end players to attend, they are also championing lower-stakes tournaments to encourage more casual gamers to compete. The hope is that this will encourage a thriving eSports community.
It isn’t just small monetary prizes to encourage the games less elite to play more often, either. The game partnered up with Super League and run a series of small events up and down the US where the victors won a chicken dinner…yes we know, winner winner!
He pointed out why it is important to help develop a pro scene. Emphasizing that he wants Pub G professionals to act as role models for the gaming community. Lofty ambitions indeed. He went onto mention how in more established sports how the top player become ambassadors for the game. This, in turn, encourages more players to try and turn pro.
Tenants push for Pub G mobile seems to have the most effect in emerging eSports markets. Coincidentally this seems the most efficient strategy to try and make his dream a reality. Although there is the anomaly of the success of mobile eSport in China. Liu puts this down to the fact that the Chinese have developed a predisposition for mobile phone usage in general, so eSports becoming popular on that platform is a natural progression.
Interestingly, despite not being officially released in China, Pub G does seem to have quite a following there. It may be a potential goldmine for the company as it continues its concerted push towards global domination.