We start off Dreamhack Winter 2017 by interviewing Edward Baily, Business Development Manager – Northern Europe for HyperX.
How does this DreamHack compare to the other ones you have attended?
Over the years we have seen the BYOC section (bring your own computer) fallen, I think they used to have 12,000 LAN [seats] and I’ve seen it fallen a lot over the last couple of years. I think there is 6-8000 [seats] now, roughly. The expo area has grown massively, and the esport side has obviously grown now as well.
I think Sweden is a very strong gaming country, for esports also. They’re very passionate here.
It’s actually a little quiet today, they actually changed the dates. Usually the first day is a school holiday, but because its not a holiday today a lot of the younger kids will arrive later tonight.
Whats your objective with exhibiting at DreamHack Winter?
It’s for us to show that we engage with the community here a lot, we’ve got several objectives really. We want to promote our products, so people can try the new keyboard and mouse. We also have a headset wall where people have the opportunity to really have a good feel. Big teams and influencers are also brought to the booth for meet and greets and 1 v 1’s. We try at every event to bring those teams to the booth for different interactions. At DreamHack Malmo we had G2 Esports at the booth and there was a massive queue to meet them.
This weekend we have 4 streamers at our booth. We actually have FaZe clan’s Olofmeister here. He’s one of our brand ambassadors for our new HyperX Cloud Alpha Headset. So he’s going to be at our booth tomorrow doing a meet and greet and maybe some 1 v 1 for an hour. We expect that to be crazy because he’s basically a demigod here.
Talent Schedule at the HyperX booth
Whats your overall vision of HyperX and esports?
Our long term goal is that we want to be the #1 gaming and lifestyle brand in the world. We set that goal at the start of this year. We’ve done a few things, for example we have trademarked “We’re all gamers”. It’s a good message to send out, everyone in the company is a gamer. We want to try and support as many people as we can in the gaming community. This weekend we’re launching an aspiring streamer program to try and support more of the grassroot streamers and give them equipment and help so they can do really nice productions. Next year you’ll see us going more into the console space as well. We don’t want to do just PC gaming, we want to do console and mobile as well.
VR esports. What’s your opinion?
Ultimately if you want to build a VR gig you need to spend at least a thousand pounds on a decent system, you take PSVR but its not the same as the really high end spec systems. I think that’s a massive buyer’s entry, you’re not getting kids spending thousands of pounds on VR gear. At the same time, they haven’t really developed many games, there are some out there, but there’s not many that are good to watch. I think thats the issue they have at the moment, you have to make it appealing to the fanbase. I think those are the two main points. I think in the future you will see it come up but now its too early.
Are you guys looking to get into the VR hardware space?
At the moment we have no plans to go into the VR space. Right now all of our headsets are VR compatible, thats a non issue, but we also make the memory for the PCs. We’ve seen some of our competitors bring out these VR headsets, but its basically the same headset with a new packaging on it, a marketing gimmick.
You sponsor quite a few esports teams (over 40 from last count), are they just gear-supply sponsorships or can you give some details about the more in-depth sponsorships you have with teams?
Yes we sponsor over 40 professional teams and around 500 streamers/youtubers around the world so it is a huge investment from our side. Sponsorships with major youtubers and teams are no longer just giving out gear; there is a substantial monetary investment for a popular team or streamer. To give you an example some major teams are demanding sponsorships in the millions of dollars now…
Are the teams allowed to use your gear during tournaments, or do they have to work with the supplied equipment (in the tournaments that you don’t sponsor)?
Based on whether there is a booth available or not tournament organisers require the players to wear noise cancelling headphones with in ears headphones. Other than that our players happily use our products at every opportunity.
HyperX has been sponsoring esports for a very long time now, how have you seen the overall scene grow in the last few years, and where do you see it heading?
Esports has an amazing future ahead of it, with increased tournament prize pools from the gaming developers, new sponsors, new genres (Battle Royale) and show piece tournaments such as Valve’s Dota2 ‘The International’ with a $20m prize pool growing each year. This year we’ve seen major non-endemic brands like Mercedes, Gillette, Nissan and American Express enter the space. We’ve also seen the growth of professional football clubs entering the space as they realise the potential of esports.
For the future of esports there needs to be a unified gaming body like other mainstream sports in order for it to get to the next level.
Which gives a better ROI, sponsoring streamers, teams, or events?
We see different results from different events/situations. The advantage of working with a streamer is they don’t have such tight schedules as they tend not to be competing in major esports tournaments on a regular basis. Successful teams however have massive online reach and viewership numbers for a tournament can be up to 45million such as the Intel Extreme Masters finals in Katowice.
What advice would you give to young gamers trying to break into the scene (aside from buy our gear)?
I would say it’s important to stay focused and work hard if you want to become pro. If you do make it, stay grounded…too often young players break through and get caught up in the moment and within years they have retired from the scene as they didn’t focus on their game at the time.
We all know HyperX and Kingston from the memory side of things, can you give a brief history of when and why HyperX went into the peripherals business and when it got involved in esports.
After investing in esports for over 10 years we realised that there were opportunities for us outside the PC. This year we actually celebrated our 10 year anniversary with SK Gaming. In the summer of 2012 we attended our first major esports event – DreamHack Summer (the world’s largest LAN party). This was the turning point for the brand when we realised the true potential for esports and PC gaming as a whole. From this point HyperX invested heavily into the esports community and now sponsor over 40 professional esports teams around the world.
With this investment we saw huge growth, over the past 5 years HyperX has grown by over 200%. However, in a short space of time, HyperX has excelled within the gaming headset market. In just over three years HyperX has rolled out a diverse cloud range fitting into enthusiast budget. Already the Cloud II has become the headset of choice for many pro-esports teams including Envyus, Echo Fox, NaVi, Gambit and FaZe. Through the sponsorship of events such as the Intel Extreme Masters and the ESL one series, HyperX has entered the market and swiftly disrupted the likes of Razer and Logitec’s market share.
In case you don’t know, HyperX is sponsoring a PUBG tournament this weekend at DreamHack Winter 2017. Check out the announcement here.
Photo credit: Christopher Backholm