Amazon-owned Twitch is doubling down in eSports. On the heels of its partnership with game development studio Psyonix on Rocket League, the streaming company has inked a three-year deal with developer Super Evil Megacorp on the mobile game, Vainglory.
The collaboration encompasses a multi-million dollar investment from each company as well as a multi-pronged program across sales, promotions, broadcasts, and live events in North America and Europe.
Vainglory is a mobile, multi-player online battle arena (MOBA) game in which teams of players compete in a fantasy setting. Currently, the most popular eSports title in the world is another MOBA, Tencent-owned Riot Games’ League of Legends for PC.
Kristian Segerstrale, COO and executive director of Super Evil Megacorp, says Twitch will dedicate a team to help run online qualifiers and live Vainglory eSports competitions.
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“We will be collaborating with Twitch’s resources for websites, merchandise sales, sponsorship sales management, and more,” explains Segerstrale. “This will provide more resources for (professional eSports) teams to grow their followership, and to connect them with more fans, as well as to help support the growing amateur scene to help build the most sustainable long-term framework possible for Vainglory eSports.”
Mobile devices make up 35% of Twitch’s viewership, according to Nick Allen, director of eSports operations at Twitch.
“Vainglory’s popularity on Twitch has skyrocketed,” Allen boasted. “With 150 million minutes viewed, it was the fastest growing mobile game on Twitch in 2015.”
The mobile eSport will see its prize pools swell as a result of this deal. Super Evil Megacorp gave away $350,000 last year. The larger pot of prize money is already attracting more professional teams such as TSM, SK Gaming, Team Secret, and G2 eSports.
“Our first major eSports initiative of this size and scope was the Capcom Cup, and it has been a successful venture to date and helped us shape the projects we’re doing with Rocket League and Vainglory,” reflects Allen. “It also helps that the collective teams behind these events have extensive backgrounds in eSports with tight ties to the community.”
In addition to the official Vainglory Championships, the companies are hatching additional plans to support competitive Vainglory over the next three years. Segerstrale sees the company’s eSports program expanding with more pro teams, more sponsors, more prizes, and more excitement from its community to be able to participate and watch in new ways.
Investors seem excited about prospects in this gaming market as well. Super Evil Megacorp has raised $41 million in funding from backers including General Catalyst, Index Ventures, Signia Venture Partners, Korea Investment Partners, CrossCut Ventures, Initial Capital, The Raine Group, ZhenFund, Yuri Milner, and Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital.
“If you think about the fact that there are more than three billion touchscreen devices out there, compared to 700 to 800 million gaming capable PCs, one could assume that touchscreen eSports have the potential to be five times larger than they are on PC right now,” Segerstrale suggests. “And with the accessibility to view and play on mobile devices anywhere, anytime, the opportunity looks even more exciting.”