Jason McIntosh is back on The Gamerpreneur's podcast with the show's host, Dr. Bradford Carlton, this interview was uploaded on the latter's Youtube channel on 12th July 2020. They discussed how ggCircuit is doing while the COVID pandemic is happening and how esports venues around the world are affected by it.
The topic also revolves around the AtHome Client (now called ggHome) client that was recently released a few months prior to this interview.
The state of the esports venue industry
Dr. Carlton started the interview by asking McIntosh about the current state of the esports venue industry. McIntosh gave a short recap that ggLeap is cloud-based software that tracks data from esports venues in its network. He added that during the last interview there were around 800 esports centers in the network and around 20,000 - 25,000 active players.
McIntosh presented data that showed info on the flow of users (players) and March 6, 2020, was the last time when the foot traffic was the highest in esports centers around the world. By the end of March, the player volume went down by 98% due to lockdowns.
ggCircuit had to address the situation and help the esports centers. Finally, the company decided to release the AtHome client earlier than what was planned. The feature was released in mid-April 2020.
How the news of the pandemic affected ggLeap
The global pandemic of the Corona virus had taken its toll on every business sector and esports was no exception. Dr. Carlton asked how it had affected ggLeap and McIntosh explained most of the esports centers had to close which led to their ggLeap subscriptions being put on hold. ggCircuit applied for the Business Loan Recovery which helped the company stay afloat during the pandemic.
McIntosh added that an event where a $15,000 prize pool was offered to the esports centers to help them retain their customers while not being able to operate. ggLeap's data shows that around 4,000 gamers participated in the event.
The AtHome client allowed gamers that participated to get their game stats tracked for the event leaderboard while playing from home. This enabled esports centers to continue operating virtually albeit in a very limited capacity.
Challenges of an online environment vs physical center gaming experience
Dr. Carlton wondered about the challenges of doing an online environment compared to an actual esports venue. McIntosh explains that the concept of the AtHome client is similar to other stat tracking software but the main difference is that it has a virtual LAN center experience and it pits an individual player's stats against another player in the network.
McIntosh continued that the virtual LAN center experience is for everyone be it an esports team, esports venue, or even a rap artist that just wants to leverage their fans or audiences for matchups against another brand.
An example of this is if Drake and Ninja each decide to do a virtual LAN center for their brands. They can have their fans get behind their respective brands and take on each other in an event where players from each team are paired randomly.
How can ggLeap customers earn from the virtual LAN center concept?
Virtual LAN centers are pandemic-proof solution for retaining customers
Being an esports business channel, Dr. Carlton asked the inevitable question of how can ggLeap create revenue from the virtual LAN center business model. McIntosh explained that the AtHome client is available for all esports centers in the ggLeap network for free.
Virtual LAN center platforms will enable players to participate in challenges or events. Prize pools will be available to entice players to join and games can be played from everywhere.
McIntosh added that each event will be statistics-based only since tournament brackets require facilitators to actively oversee an event and reiterated that ggLeap is about automation.
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The status of the AtHome client
Dr. Carlton asked how the AtHome client is doing since its release in April 2020, McIntosh replied that up thousands players from several global venues have participated. Supported games* were also expanded between July and August in the supported games library in order to attract more gamers to join the platform.
McIntosh added that the virtual LAN center platform will enable an influencer to gain more revenue beyond likes and follows. And instead of just doing giveaways to fans, an influencer can be more interactive with their community by giving away prizes via challenges.
Integration of games in the platform
The AtHome client supports a wide range of esports titles and Dr. Carlton asked if an influencer can request another game title to be added to the supported games library. McIntosh explained that the client can use many forms of stat tracking based on the game. APIs, OCR, log files, and more are all part of the various methods utilized to track stats.
McIntosh stated that a virtual LAN center might be a good starting point for anyone interested in putting up their own esports venue business in the future.
How does the Events system work
Automated events can be created from the ggLeap web admin
Dr. Carlton asked McIntosh how the Events system work. McIntosh explained that the Events system is based on statistical challenges that can be customized to what data the event creator wants to be collected in order for a player to earn points.
This system allows for a wide range of possible challenges which gives the esports venue owner or influencer multiple ways to create an event. Of course, the event creator can charge a participation fee in order to earn revenue. The Events system can be configured to be available for global, regional, or just local leaderboards.
This compelled Dr. Carlton to ask why not just ditch the brick and mortar esports venue model in favor of the virtual LAN center. McIntosh responded that the virtual LAN center (AtHome client) is just a way to help ggLeap's subscribers retain their customers while the global Corona virus pandemic is happening. ggCircuit still firmly believes in the brick and mortar esports gaming location and it is still the best way to socially gather for games and compete on any level. Once the pandemic concludes we feel that our numbers will eventually return to pre-pandemic numbers.
However, the AtHome client will continue to be available as a companion for ggLeap subscribers. An additional feature for doing automated events and retaining customer loyalty even after the pandemic.
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ggCircuit amid the pandemic
Before the interview concluded, Dr. Carlton asked McIntosh how long he thinks the COVID pandemic is going to last. McIntosh speculated that there might be another wave that will trigger yet another lockdown.
ggCircuit was able to get by during the height of the corona virus pandemic due to several partnerships that include Lenovo and Super League Gaming. McIntosh also mentions that the project with Dell and Alienware is another factor that ggCircuit was able to keep afloat financially during that trying time that affected the whole world.
*Supported games are games whose stats can be tracked by the AtHome and ggLeap clients.