Last week Miles Regenass gave us some tips on how we as a community can help support the players as they attempt to grow. This week’s chat is all about what the players and organisations need to be doing to help us help them.
If you haven’t quite realised it by now, Miles is a wellspring of knowledge, ideas, and good advice. Being a director at nAvTV and the marketing manager for MSI Notebook South Africa, he kinda maybe cares about the local esports scene a little.
So, being such a knowledgeable guy, what exactly is it that he would like to see from the our local professional players this year?
“I’d like to see more engagement with the community. I think it’s so easy as a semi-professional player – like all our South African players are that put a lot of time into competitive play – to just put a little bit more work on their Facebook and Instagram profiles, a little bit more engagement. And just an acceptance that they have fans and supporters, and just taking on the responsibility of engaging with those people.
I don’t believe we as a community, and then the players, and then the owners, and then the event organisers really focus on that enough. And it’s cool to say, ‘We put up a stream, come watch the stream.’ But I think there’s a lot more to it than that. I think it takes a lot more work than we collectively have put into it.
In the national progression, that’s something we’ll never be able to let go of. While we continue to try and improve all these other things like the environment and the schedules and the prize pools and all this other stuff, that should be 50% of what we’re doing. And the other 50% should be fans and players.
So how do we do that? I dunno. Like radio shows, get on TV, articles. Get hold of people, get hold of YOU magazine, you know. A lot of these guys have their own Facebook, and then you go to the Facebook and they post stuff and one or two comments happen and they don’t jump on the comment train and engage. And I get it cause it’s work and they’d rather be in matchmaking or shooting bots or watching a stream, or something like that.
But they follow all the international players and they see what those guys do. And they should just be straight up copying them. It’s not something that people haven’t done before. It’s not like we’re inventing the wheel here.”
Talking to your fans sounds like a pretty simple ask to us. Who wouldn’t want to talk to people who think you’re the best? It’s going to be a better conversation than the ones you have with your parents about why you’re still playing those video games.
Another way players can directly engage with their fanbase and grow their personal brand is through streaming. We know that hasn’t always been an option in SA due to our unfavourable internet situation. That’s what we call a euphemism, kids. Our internet is terrible, but we wanted to be polite about it.
Thankfully, the times are a changing and, thanks to the wonders of fibre, streaming is now an option for local gamers. So if you’re one of the best gamers in the country, please stream. We’d love to watch.
“I know a couple of the Bravado guys are interested. A couple of the Aperture guys. I’m sure in Carbon and WRG there are a few guys who want to do it. They’re all in a prime position, because what happens is the fans start becoming interested in the player and the player’s career and not necessarily the team itself and how well the team does. But the team can leverage off that interest.
So it’s more like: I follow the player and the player is in a team that doesn’t always place highly, but I love the player and what the player does, so I watch his games to see him do well, to see him struggle. That will be a natural evolution.
But again, we’re not going to get there until these players realise that if they want this to be a career and they want to grow this community then this is the next thing they have to do. Unfortunately, the honest truth is that it is work.”
The point Miles is making here is that there’s more to being a pro gamer than just being a pro gamer. As a player, you can add more value to your team than just being a godlike AWPer or a kick-ass midlaner. If players manage to build up relatively large fanbases they will have something that teams, brands and fans all want. They’ll put themselves into a position to actually make some sweet esports money.
Take the example of CS:GO player Hiko. When he moved to Team Liquid in 2015 he asked for roughly two and a half times the salary of the rest of the squad, and he could do this because he has a huge following, currently sitting at over 450k followers on Twitch.
Not only was he able to live comfortably off playing video games, he did it by building the CS:GO community around him. Win-win. We’re not quite at the point where our local players are earning salaries yet, but we’re getting close. And by doing things like engaging with fans, building a community and streaming or creating videos, we’re going to get there faster.
And Miles is pretty tired of hearing excuses about streaming.
“It’s dumb for us to think, “Oh our accents are off-putting”. You see British streamers do well. Or Australian. Even Swedish guys who talk with a very heavy accent. People from all over the world are watching them. I said it in a previous article (GLHF: We’ve got the proof right here.), us gamers don’t care what you look like or sound like. We just like it if you’re entertaining and if you play well and engage with us.”
But maybe a bit of a mindset shift is required from the viewers. We’re all happy to watch our favourite international streamers playing Rock Simulator 2014, but our local heroes should be getting our views every day of the week.
“We’re kind of where local music was all those years ago when they started the local is lekker campaign. Then suddenly we saw the rise of all these cool local rock groups like Springbok Nude Girls 10-15 years ago. And now we’re in this really interesting space in local music where there’s a quota, like 90% of the music played is local.
So what I think we are going to see in 2017, I’ve heard rumours that they are going to pass a law that local TV content has to be around 80%. So at nAvTV we’ve already seen people reaching out and very interested in the content. And I know there’s a whole load of discussions going on and people are interested in buying Telkom’s content and Mega8’s content. That’s going to help a lot. That’s really exciting. That’s really good for the teams and the players.”
But why is it so important for our local players to stream, create videos, chat to the fans and be lekker in general? Surely everybody just loves you because you’re TeH_bEsT?
“You actually have to take advantage of these opportunities. And if you don’t actively pursue them you are just going to be left in the dirt and it will be the end of 2017 and there will be a bunch of mediocre teams – in terms of their gameplay – but their engagement and activity levels are so high that they are going to have all supporters and sponsors.
And you’ll have a team of brilliant players that just have no direction. They’re placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, but they have no sponsors and they have no supporters because they don’t put the work in. And unfortunately you can place 2nd, even first, and sponsors aren’t going to want to pick you up unless you’re having the right discussions with them.”
Basically, the big esports dream will remain but a dream if players don’t start engaging the fans, and teams don’t start pitching their big ideas to sponsors, and report back to them.
“Those are our challenges. I think with the help of people like you (GLHF: Aww!) we will achieve a lot more next year, but it is going to be incredibly busy. I’ve seen the road map. I’m aware of what a lot of the people out there want to do, Mega8, Orena, Telkom, nAvTV. And then also with this rumour about the law around local content.
It already feels like a scramble, because I’m privy to some of the conversations in the background, who is going after whose content. There is going to be a scramble for these competitive games and that is going to have a very positive effect on the community.
But the community are all going to lose the opportunity unless they wake up and realise that people are actually interested in them because they play games well. And just come to terms with that and then start giving people what they want, which is interaction.”
Well, there sure is a lot to keep in mind if you’re one of those teams that’s looking to make it big in 2017. Miles always has a ton of knowledge to share, so we’ll try distill it into a classic GLHF checklist:
Step 1: Be a decent player. That’s the obvious part.
Step 2: Be funny and good value – don’t worry if you aren’t Ryan Gosling.
Step 3: Stream, Facebook, Tweet. Engage.
Step 4: Constantly talk to sponsors.
Step 5: In the words of Rihanna feat. The Peon from Warcraft: Work, work, work, work, work, work.