On today’s show I talk to Ben Goldhaber, co-founder and CEO of Juked.gg, a fantastic esports aggregation website that makes it easy to just see all the esports happening live online right now.
When you hit the site you just get this great dashboard of live feeds as if you’re looking at a bunch of screens in a sports bar. It launched in 2019 and I’ve been a fan since I first spotted it – it solves the classic problem of not knowing what’s on and not being sure where to find it.
Ben has a huge background in both esports and live-streaming, and was even on the founding team when twitch.tv was born.
So it was great to catch up and hear his thoughts on why he’s created Juked as well as his thoughts on making esports easier to watch and where this still very new service might go from here.
This week Seamus talks with Nico King, co-founder and Executive Creative Director of Chaos Theory Games, an independent games studio based out of Sydney, Australia.
Chaos Theory is a great blend of pragmatism and idealism, creating games for brands to help them with marketing initiatives right through to games for good, helping charities, educators and environmental causes to deliver fun and engaging experiences.
They’ve worked with businesses as big as eBay, M&Ms and Samsung to create mobile games and even AR and VR experiences. And then they’ve helped Sydney University gamify dermatology education, and created the Bleached Az game tie-in for a viral animated cartoon series.
We last caught up with Michal ‘Carmac’ Blicharz, VP of Pro Gaming at ESL, at Intel Extreme Masters Sydney last year. This year, Australia’s IEM is moving to Melbourne to headline Melbourne Esports Open. Or at least, it’s meant to be. If we’re amazingly lucky, and we’re probably not going to be lucky, we’ll all get to catch up in Melbourne and enjoy the show in August.
One of the big lines in the sand for seeing the coronavirus shut down a lot of major events around the world was this year’s IEM in Katowice, Poland, in the country where Carmac is from. The event was all systems go until the very day before the doors opened. With travellers already in the city, ESL had to make the announcement that authorities had decided they could no longer enter the arena to watch one of the most beloved events on the annual calendar.
In today’s conversation, we talk about how esports has had to respond to the crisis in the age of stadium events as a norm, how the shock now turns to opportunity for the industry, and whether this will be a chance to change minds and open the door to new fans and new perspectives on what esports has to offer.
Ben Lee is the co-founder and Managing Director of Blowfish Studios based in Sydney. He’s been a games and software developer for over 20 years and Blowfish has been producing games for nine years – and recently they also started publishing games too.
They’re best known for their Siegecraft games but have a super diverse range of games across consoles, PC and mobile. Lee is also particularly insightful on running a game studio as a business, and what you can learn from other businesses of all stripes, not just other devs.
Big thanks to IGEA for helping to line up this interview, and Byteside will be working with them to do a lot more developer interviews throughout 2020.
Seamus caught up with Josh Inman, Operations Manager for ESL Australia, a few weeks ago around the AO Summer Smash event (ESL was behind the scenes on production) to talk about the importance of that event to the local scene.
Plus Josh dropped the IEM Melbourne news on Seamus in this chat so you get to hear his raw reaction to the news and then they discuss just how Melbourne is getting so serious about being Australia’s “home of esports”.
Seamus visited the construction site of Fortress Melbourne ahead of the venue’s launch in early March. He spoke to Jon Satterley, CEO of Fortress, and Ben Jackson, Dell General Manager for Australia, to find out about the venue, its mission, its business model, and their Alienware partnership.
Having had the chance to walk the three-floor venue (as deeply under construction as it was), it does feel like something very new in the Australian market. It’s massive, and it’s aiming to be a great esports venue while also being a space that is open for use every day for people to hang out and play games together. And that includes tabletop!
It’s great to hear the mission from the folks before the public’s fingers hit the keyboards and controllers – and bars. Hopefully we’ll catch them again later in the year to hear more about how it’s doing and what lessons you just can’t learn until you’re operating.
Seamus rounds up his thoughts from being there, as well as the mainstream media interest that blew up around the event. Plus why the haters need to calm the farm – Fortnite is an esport and it’s not going away anytime soon.
And the positives of the shift into a new phase of Fortnite esports starting just days from now with Season X.
This week we’re taking a bit of a dive inside the new sponsorship deal between Intel and Acer and the Meta High School Esports program, owned and operated by Adelaide Crows Football Club.
These are global companies getting involved in an Australian grassroots esports operation, so it seemed an interesting opportunity to talk to all involved about why it’s happening, what it means for Meta and the value for Intel and Acer.
So I spoke to reps at all involved – Intel, Acer, Meta, and the Crows, plus I also had a chat with one of the teachers at a school that participates in the Meta program to get a sense of how this league is impacting on some of the students too.