Interview with Vainglory’s Asia Pacific General Manager

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As if its intro video when you first download the game isn’t obvious enough, Vainglory is firmly positioning itself as an eSports game.  Growing from an initial prize of $5000 for its first tournament, the total prize money awarded for Vainglory tournaments totalled $350,000 in 2015, and is expected to be much higher for this year.  A big contributor to the game’s growth is the success Vainglory has had in the Asia markets.  Recently at the Taiwan Game Show (TGS), Taiwanese gaming news site Gamebase had a chance to speak with Taewon Yun, Asia Pacific General Manager at Super Evil MegaCorp.  Below are translated excerpts from the interview (original article in Chinese can be found here: http://www.gamebase.com.tw/news/topic/98255144):

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Gamebase: Can you reveal to us a little about what Super Evil Megacorp is planning for promoting Vainglory as an eSport in Taiwan?

Taewon Yun:  Today (Jan. 30th) we will be hosting activities at both the Google Play and Twitch booths.  Tomorrow (Jan. 31st) we will also have an hour of activities.  Also, we have been having ongoing discussions with local Taiwanese companies, exploring what we can do with the game here.  We hope to build a community of players in Taiwan, and create a healthy eSports environment here.

The way we promote eSports is different than other game companies.  Profitability is not our main priority.  We don’t believe eSport competition should be a sales tool, instead, but something that can become more like a regular sport.  We hope partners here can cooperate with us and generate more followers for the game through competitions.  We hope we can create an eSports ecosystem here that has the potential to carry on forever.

In terms of next steps for developing (Vainglory as an eSport in Taiwan), we currently don’t have a clear time schedule for when this will happen.  This is only my second time in Taiwan, and we need to think more about how we want to take our next steps here.  But you can see that our team acts and moves quickly; the Chinese New Years content update is actually our way to reach out to the community here in Taiwan.  We hope players here will support our game and allow the Vainglory gaming community to grow here.  Once we find our ideal partner, our team will take action immediately.  For example, in cooperating with OGN in Korea, we only took 3 days to confirm our eSports competition plan for that market.  We hope Taiwan will be just as smooth.

Gamebase: Do you already have impressions for certain eSports companies or eSports teams in Taiwan, perhaps ready to talk business with them?

Taewon Yun:  We have already spoken to a few teams here, but we definitely don’t know all the teams or companies that are related to eSports in this market.  Our approach to promoting eSports is different than most companies, so if a potential partner sees eSports as a means to generate revenue, then it’s difficult for us to continue discussions.

Gamebase: Vainglory recently released a new activity where a game must last 15 minutes in order for you to be able to win any prizes.  Do you think this time requirement is too long?

Taewon: Although our game is made for mobile, but we also don’t Vainglory to be a game that you play while you’re riding on public transportation, as you’ll be most likely to lose a game that way.  We hope our players can be the type that can sit at a coffee shop and spend 20 minutes to play one session.

When we were developing this game, we wanted to find out how to make a MOBA game for mobile that is fun.  During this process, we felt that a 5 minute match will not generate a lot of interest and excitement for the user.  At the same time, 40-50 minute matches are definitely too long.  After testing various designs, we decided to control the match time at about 20 minutes.  Again, I must stress that we are not just developing a mobile game, but a hardcore game that can be played on mobile.

Players nowadays spend quite a bit of money on their mobile phones, but most games they play on their phones tend to be simple games with simple mechanics.  We didn’t want to build a game that you can finish in 2 minutes; we wanted the game to perform to the standard of Starcraft and World of Warcraft on PC.

Gamebase: Do not notice if Taiwan players have any particular playing styles or character choices that are different than players from other countries?

Taewon Yun:  We haven’t noticed anything yet.  In terms of character selection, there’s not much difference between Taiwan and neighbouring places such as Hong Kong, Korea, or Japan.  But in terms of playing style, what we see is that while Japanese players tend to play more slow and conservatively, Korean players tend to play more aggressively.  Taiwanese players are a compromise of both styles.

Gamebase: Can you reveal to us how many monthly players Vainglory currently has in Taiwan?

Taewon Yun: That’s a trade secret so it’s not convenient for me to disclose, and I don’t think the number really has any special meaning.  We pay attention to 2 numbers: 1 is the amount of views our game is getting on Twitch, as that’s an indicator of how interested our players are about our game.  In the past year, we have exceed 20 million views on Twitch.  But Twitch is not available in all countries, so some players do not have the chance to use it.

The second number we pay attention to is the average duration a player spends playing Vainglory per day.  We feel this number indicates how much players love our game.  Our latest version of Vainglory is observing average playtime per player at about 50 minutes; most recently, we are observing averages of 90 to 100 minutes.

Gamebase: Recently, which country has been generating the most activity in terms of competitions or players for Vainglory?

Taewon Yun:  Korea is currently the most active for Vainglory in terms of actual eSports competitions.  Korea has already established an international league for Vainglory competitions, and so has North America and Europe.  We hope we can establish such leagues around the world and encourage Vainglory competitions in regions around the world.

But more important to us is not the professional competitions, but the ground roots competitions ran by our players.  These kind of player hosted tournaments can be found across the world.  I remember receiving a message from a player in India who wanted to organize a Vainglory competition, which really surprised me.  These kinds of LAN parties or player organized competitions are very interesting, and will attract a lot of sponsors to cooperate with us.  These activities are also great for broadcasting, and sponsors can promote their brand and products through this.  It’s a win-win-win situation.

When promoting Vainglory, we will not use public transportation ads, TV ads or online ads.  The LAN parties and tournaments are our promotional method, as we highly respect the development of our player community and the activities that they organize.  We don’t really care for game rankings or anything related to that.

Gamebase: Currently for Vainglory’s professional competitions, there are no standards for what kind of devices one can use.  Will there be standards for mobile devices or tablets in future competitions?

Taewon Yun: We don’t have any regulations for devices.  Players can bring whatever smartphone or tablet they want to the competition, because professional players are already used to the smartphone or tablet they are using for playing Vainglory.  We have many types of devices available at our competitions for players to use, but more often than not players just use their own devices during the competition.

 

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