NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - November 04, 2016) - At the end of October, SPYR, Inc. (OTCQB: SPYR) added Mike Turner, a video game industry expert, to its team as its VP of Strategic Partnerships. Stock Market Media Group (SMMG), a research and content development investment relations firm, caught up with Turner, who will be responsible for the development of strategic partnerships for SPYR's games in Asian markets, as well as launching a new eSports division, to discuss his role with the company and the growing eSports craze around the world.
SMMG: What is it that attracted you to SPYR and, now that you have joined the team, what will your focus be at the company?
Mike Turner: "The team that SPYR has put together is what brought me to the company. We agree on the right way to operate our games, and I have enjoyed my interactions with the executives as well as our partners internationally. We have a great product in Pocket Starships and I am excited about the roadmap as we listen to our community and continue to implement more competitive features and move the title toward the eSports space.
"My work now is collaborating with all parts of the company to unify our vision, then execute the strategy to grow our Player vs. Player (PvP) community and deliver more of the intense action game-play in a more structured tournament framework. To do this in the right way, it touches every aspect of the organization, so it is great to see everyone is committed to giving our players more of what they want through the excitement of competition.
"This also means bringing our players and game into the larger community of eSports fans and companies. It takes a village, and it is my responsibility to navigate SPYR & Pocket Starships through the ecosystem of partners that can propel us to the next level. In addition to this, I will be managing any business relating to Asia as we leverage our portfolio across the globe."
SMMG: In our next piece, we will get more into the Asian market and partnerships, so here we'll focus on the growing fascination with eSports. Everyone seems to want a piece of the action and so many are getting involved in the space. What do you think the near and long-term future holds for eSports?
Mike Turner: "It is really exciting what is happening around eSports right now with all of the investment coming from traditional professional sports (Shaq, Magic Johnson, PSG, and the 76ers) like the NBA and Pro Soccer. There is a lot of hype in the space now, but we have seen what live streaming quality content can do for the games, the teams, and the fans of this type of competition. I think we will continue to see growth in the short term as more titles break into the eSports scene and provide an engaging and entertaining viewing experience for core fans and newbies alike. We have seen Rocket League really take off to be one of the latest new games to join in the PC side of the market.
"Long term, I think the future of eSports is even stronger based on the proliferation of live streaming of games and aspirational aspect for the viewers. The younger generations today are growing up watching YouTube and consuming most of their media content on demand rather than whatever the TV channels want to show them.
"When we were kids growing up, we never really thought we would be playing on the biggest stage. With eSports, however, it is different. It reminds me of the Super Bowl commercial Pokémon did for their 20th Anniversary, where the competitors said, 'I can do that.' Many people watch eSports for the entertainment value, and the educational opportunity to get better at a game they really love. There is also a decent sized segment of the gamers watching who are thinking… on a good day, 'maybe I could be a pro.' That's exciting and no wonder we see so many eSports fans; there are just so many reasons to watch."
SMMG: Traditionally, the break out success stories for eSports have been PC-based games, like League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Counterstrike. Do you think now is the time for Mobile eSports?
Mike Turner: "Yes, traditionally it has been PC-based games that have led the charge to make the eSports industry what it is today. These games are great and have shown us what is possible when all parties work together to bring the gamers what they want to see…the 'Worlds' just concluded last week, where over 20-thousand League of Legends fans packed the Staples Center. Last year's League of Legends finals event was watched by 36 million people. These are huge numbers (Riot's 2013 event surpassed the NBA Finals and MLB World Series viewers for 2013) so everyone is paying attention, with ESPN & Turner both devoting serious resources to their new programming on television.
"The style of real-time synchronous combat that is required in eSports titles is now much more accessible on mobile devices. Network connectivity has improved to the point where most people in the Western world can sit down and find a strong connection to the internet wherever they are in the day. Now that we are all carrying around these glorious computers in our pockets, we can seriously start to have real competitions on our mobile devices.
"We have already seen a few titles have early success in the mobile eSports space, with Hearthstone, Vainglory, and more recently Clash Royale growing a significant audience on mobile. This trend will only continue as quality games offer a great battle wherever and whenever the customer wants it. Live streaming on mobile is an important part of the ecosystem, and I think the recent Series B announcement of Mobcrush raising an additional $20 Million is another indicator that Mobile eSports is ready for primetime."
SMMG: How can SPYR change the eSports landscape by introducing a cross platform eSports game?
Mike Turner: "This is a real advantage of Pocket Starships, and shows our commitment to bringing the fight to gamers, wherever they prefer to play. Having the ability to practice on your home PC, but to train on your mobile while you are on the go, makes things much easier and puts the customer at the center of everything. Most cross platform games can become unbalanced, where you would not want a PC gamer playing against a Console player since the control scheme is not equal. Pocket Starships has shown more flexibility and consistently delivered balanced battles, no matter which machine you are logged into.
"Combine this with the trend of everything going mobile (PayPal just announced survey results showing 78% of gamers play on their smartphone) and you can see the advantages of this approach. Sometimes gamers don't have the time commitment required for a 20-40 minute League of Legends match, but they are looking for a shorter session strategic experience they can enjoy with their friends in a competitive way."
SMMG: SPYR is able to draw revenue from the $100 billion global games market, as well as the almost $30 billion MMO market, but eventually the company will also be able to draw revenue from the almost $500 million ($1 billion by 2019) eSports market. Having said that, do you see the eSports market being more of an advantage to SPYR/Pocket Starships than just the revenue it can produce?
Mike Turner: "We are looking to integrate eSports into every aspect of the game, and I think eSports has broad benefits to the company outside of whatever financial benefits it brings. We are looking at our efforts here in all aspects of the company:
- Attention -- eSports fans of other titles can be introduced to our brand through viewership of game play broadcasts. Media and PR around our events can be another impression that adds up to gaining the attention of our target audience.
- Acquisition -- Through watching the game played at the highest level, some users will want to give it a try for themselves. Through an eSports event or an influencer who is playing the game in front of their audience, some players will choose to immediately download to their mobile phone based on watching the best.
- Engagement -- For our existing players, eSports can be a chance to test their skills against gamers of a similar skill, or for educational benefit as they learn new tactics and skills to improve their own performance.
- Retention -- 'Gamers who play together, stay together.' Building on top of the core PvP of the game, any additional game modes we add will build short session, action filled multiplayer, with strategic choices.
- Monetization -- Although there may be several revenue streams from the eSports Initiative, players' motivations to practice for upcoming events will likely be our main revenue driver from this initiative."
In our next article, we will look into SPYR's efforts to get into the Asian markets using Mike Turner's expertise in this arena as well as discussing the benefit of developing partnerships to advance the company's goals in the industry.
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