NSW stadiums miss eSports action

James Riley
Editorial Director

The NSW government might be developing plans to invest $2 billion on new sporting stadiums in Sydney. But there are no concrete plans to build next-generation infrastructure for the growing local eSports market any time soon.

Still, they are looking at eSports in a semi-serious way for the first time and the industry is hopeful that Australia will open its eyes to a growing international phenomena – and giant industry.

The NSW Office of Sports hosted a roundtable earlier this year help formulate suitable policies to guide the government about how it can support the eSports market.

Gamers: eSports is a global phenomena that mainstream Australia has missed

However, more than just discussions between governments departments need to happen if the NSW government wants to avoid being left red-faced because it has not reacted quickly enough to an emerging sector.

The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) shows the game development industry in Australia generated $118.5 million in the 2016-17 financial year. And eSports opens up a whole new industry frontier.

Further evidence of the growing eSports gaming market can be appreciated by the recent victory of Australia’s Anathan Pham, who helped his team win more than US$11 million in a Canadian gaming tournament last week.

ESports Games Association Australia board member David Harris described the process of gaining support from the NSW government for the local eSports sector as a “complicated value chain”.

“Nothing is going to happen overnight but the good thing is that it’s now on people’s radar,” he told InnovationAus.com.

“At the moment, solely government-funded eSports stadium is probably not a direction in the way things are moving. But it’s important to note that any infrastructure that is being built or funded takes into consideration of being future proofed, and obviously being eSports ready is part of that.

“As I understand, eSports is one thing that has been looked at in studies on future stadium infrastructure.”

The NSW government has committed approximately $2 billion for its Stadium Fund, which it will use for large redevelopment projects such as the Sydney Olympic Park Stadium. However, little detail has been shed on whether that will include infrastructure to support future eSports tournaments.

This is unlike the Victorian government that recently hosted the state’s first Melbourne ESports Open, after it received funding from the Major Events Funds, which was boosted by $4.5 million in the recent state budget. This saw stages at Melbourne and Olympic Parks fitted with giant video screens, full concert lighting, and concert-level audio production.

While the NSW sector continues to wait on solid backing from state government, there are those in the private sector like Gfinity Esports Australia who have taken it upon themselves to create eSports arenas across Australia. Earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with Hoyts to create a chain of arenas within current Hoyts cinema locations. The first was in Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter.

At the time of the announcement, Gfinity Esports Australia chief executive Dominic Remond, said Hoyts’ national venue reach will give the potential for eSport fans to watch tournaments on the big screen in additional cinema locations.

“This will enable our fans and audiences to join in the excitement as we continue to position Gfinity eSports Australia as the leading eSports tournament and broadcast provider in the country,” Mr Remond said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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