Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.

As huge as e-sports recent growth has been, its long-term future may be on the smallest of screens.

We recently spoke with Kristian Segerstrale, the executive director and chief operating officer of Vainglory developer Super Evil Megacorp, about how competitive gaming may be on the precipice of an explosive growth in the tablet and phone space. Segerstrale will speak on a panel of industry experts discussing e-sports at GamesBeat 2015, held in the San Francisco Grand Hyatt Union Square on October 12 and October 13.

Super Evil Megacorp’s success with the first major hit in touch-based multiplayer online battle arenas (or MOBAs) has given Segerstrale a vision of a spectator-based gaming future on every smart phone. During our brief phone conversation, Kristian points to both the proliferation of, and the advancing technology on, touch devices as road signs toward that future. And while a vocal portion of the gamer community still lauds the more “hardcore” bonafides of gaming-first devices like consoles and PCs, Segerstrale believes that psychological barrier to entry isn’t large enough to hinder the community as a whole.

“I think fundamentally gamers don’t care about the device they play a game on,” Segerstrale said. “They just want the game to be great.”


GamesBeat Summit 2023

Join the GamesBeat community in Los Angeles this May 22-23. You’ll hear from the brightest minds within the gaming industry to share their updates on the latest developments.

Register Here
Kristian Segerstrale (left) of Super Evil Megacorp with Twitch’s Marcus Graham and Bo Daly of Super Evil.

Above: Kristian Segerstrale (left) of Super Evil Megacorp with Twitch’s Marcus Graham and Bo Daly of Super Evil.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

According to Segerstrale, the creation of this break-out success in touch-based e-sports is just a matter of time. The big names in competitive gaming have already left a foundation worth taking advantage of in their race to fill stadiums and hand out athletic Visas. ESPN has signed an e-sports editor, and broadcasting companies are picking up exclusive broadcast rights. Bringing phones and tablets into this growing economy has less to do with crossing over, and more to do with simply taking advantage of what’s already there. Namely, the mobile market’s hundreds of millions of preexisting customers.

“The groundwork is ready for it,” said Segerstrale. “Someone just needs to create the right software and build the right community around it.”

And as stiff a challenge as game development can be, it’s the latter part of that equation that could prove most tricky. You can focus-group every aspect of your game design and put as much money behind its marketing campaign, but in the world of e-sports the customer decides when and if your product is worth playing. The titans of e-sports brands measure their games’ lifespan in years, rather than months, meaning you not only need to be entertaining, but adaptable.

The e-sports community is also broader than most single-player or even multiplayer experiences. Segerstrale broke the fan base down into three chief stakeholders. A successful spectator sport must please its pros, its viewers, and its casual players. Whether it’s soccer or StarCraft, if it isn’t fun to watch and play both as an amateur and as a professional, then it won’t survive to draw the crowds and sponsors.

“Ultimately a game is a set of rules,” Segerstrale said. “It is the community that decides it’s worth playing”

None of the above restricts e-sports to a particular platform. A leading, touch-based e-sports brand could pull in, by Segerstrale’s estimates, three to five times the magnitude of the current strongest IP on computer, by the amount of touch screens in circulation alone. The ease of streaming and content-production on PCs have given it major market dominance up until now, but ignoring the miniature computer in everyone’s pocket is a mistake game publishers and developers may not keep making for much longer.

Above all else, Segerstrale hopes to promote open-mindedness during his appearance at GamesBeat 2015, registration for which is still open. The future of the e-sports could get smaller in screen size, but profits are likely to only get bigger.


Above: Vainglory

Image Credit: Super Evil Megacorp

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.