As Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at video gaming entertainment network Ampverse, I wanted to explore the future of gaming and esports in Southeast Asia by speaking with some of the greatest minds in the space. Game Changers is all about understanding what’s trending, what’s evolving and most crucially, what’s next.

My next guest is Chris Chaney, an active investor, advisor and entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio of gaming startups. He’s someone who's been in industry for a while and has a front-row seat to the high-speed evolution of the ecosystem.

I get approached frequently by people who tell me they’re passionate about gaming and are keen to work in the industry. I don't remember this happening two years ago.
General interest in this space has reached a fever pitch, and it's helped legitimise our industry, which has always been seemingly on the fringes.

A naturally curious person, Chris’s interest and involvement in this space is beyond core esports. Some of the innovative startups he has advised and invested in are active in areas such as gaming audience insights, embedded advertising, gaming engines, edu-games, and even merchandising and youth summer camps.

I asked Chris whether measurement and analytics had evolved enough to give brands confidence to invest in the space or if the industry still has a lot of work to do in quantifying return on investment?

“I see a lot of different kinds of data getting used that leads to a lack of uniformity,” Chris said. “In the context of an esports tournament, metrics include total hours watched, unique viewers, average concurrent viewers and peak audiences to name a few. This can confuse brands that are not necessarily used to these types of metrics.”

There are many innovative startups looking to ‘crack the code’ and provide data analytics solutions including audience segmentation and identifying customer personas, measurement and reporting of partnership campaign performance and sentiment analysis.

I think we'll soon see some winners among these startups and I hope the result will be a lot of happy brands that are meeting their objectives and are excited about being in the space.

As gaming grows, we're seeing it move beyond hardcore fans, to more casual gamers and audiences. Companies like Venn in the US are taking inspiration from the original MTV with live programming studios, and building more lifestyle programming to facilitate the crossover of gaming and esports content to broader audiences. Is gaming different to other entertainment categories, or is this hybridity of audiences and formats what the industry needs?

We're going to see more diversification of gamers into existing mainstream formats of content.

Chris said, “It becomes interesting when creators are doing more IRL (in real life) content, for example, where they're not playing video games in front of a computer. This will help broaden their reach, bring new players into the ecosystem and also deepen the engagement with their existing audiences.

Gaming is at a cultural crossroads with fashion, music, sport and movies, and we see gaming increasingly intersect with other types of entertainment. Fortnite has been streaming live events, including a virtual Travis Scott concert. FaZe Clan also recently announced the launch of a studio for original film and TV projects, and are in talks of creating a reality show, as well as a feature length film slated for next year.

I asked Chris about the trends or developments in gaming that he’s particularly excited about. He had no shortage of responses:

“Mobile esports are huge in Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia and China. With the new mobile League of Legends: Wild Rift launching this year, I'm curious to see the adoption and when mobile esports finally arrives in the West.”

“We have a tremendous number of eyeballs in the space, but generally commercialisation has still been limited. I’m super interested to see which companies will be the most successful when it comes to the long term evolution of esports,” he continued.

“Also, the newly announced Playstation 5 is the last physical console that Sony is releasing. I’m interested to see what the future of the console and gaming hardware generally looks like.”

Gaming is a great equaliser and may be one of the best tools that we have to bring people together, especially in the current climate that we're in. Chris added, “How do we ensure that gaming continues to have a positive impact in bringing people together from all backgrounds and experiences? This is something that is important to me and an area I personally want to play a role in.”