YouTube Gaming officially entered into mobile eSports on November 4-6 with King’s Cup Live on YouTube Gaming, a $100,000 Clash Royale major tournament that was held live in Los Angeles at YouTube Space. The event opened the door for competitors on iOS and Android devices from around the globe to compete against eight of the top Clash Royale YouTubers.
While mobile games like Super Evil Megacorp’s Vainglory and Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone are forging new paths to success in mobile eSports, Supercell’s Clash Royale has exploded as one of the most popular games on YouTube Gaming. According to SuperData Research, Clash Royale was the third highest grossing mobile game for the month of September.
YouTube Gaming worked with Supercell and Google Play to unlock a special in-game King’s Cup Special Event Challenge, which offered players free access to play with cards they hadn’t yet unlocked. Global head of gaming content at YouTube, Ryan Wyatt, explains to [a]listdaily why he’s expanding into mobile eSports in this exclusive interview.
Why did you decide to focus on mobile competitive gaming?
We’ve hosted broadcasts from several other big eSports events but we wanted to do something to represent mobile gaming on YouTube since it’s such a big category for us. This allowed for an event that was entertaining, but also lent itself to competition. Outside of King’s Cup, we’ve had all of the Dota 2 Majors and International, League of Legends Championship Series, ESL Pro League, Call of Duty World League and others. We’ve helped organize many shoots and live broadcasts also from the YouTube Space like Guitar Hero, Super Mario Maker, Call of Duty Infinity Warfare, Battleborn and the Heroes of the Storm launch.
What do you feel is the appeal of Clash Royale with your YouTube audience?
As one of our top 15 games on the platform, it speaks to a broad audience. It’s easy to understand but has a deeper meta for those that want to pursue the game more deeply.
How are you collaborating with Supercell on this activation?
We partnered with Supercell and Google Play to bring this tournament together and make it available to all players to participate in.
How are you supplementing this King’s Cup event with additional content for fans from YouTubers?
The whole name of this event has been content. Knowing how popular unboxing videos are across YouTube, we customized this idea by sending our invited creators fabricated chests which contained handwritten invites to the event. Each creator did an “unchesting” video which drove over 2 million views over eight creator channels. We also worked with Google Play to design a first-of-kind in-app Kings Cup Challenge, which was a special game mode you could play within Clash Royale. Hundreds of thousands of players participated in this event, including our creators, who made videos like Road to the King’s Cup, which drove additional awareness. Even more, all the creators posted the event trailer to the event on their own channel. Lastly, we made sure entertainment was the main product of the livestream: YouTube creators shot shoulder content (interviews, quick facts, fun facts, etc.) that they also posted on their channels to supplement the livestream.
What potential do you see for Clash Royale when it comes to eSports moving forward?
The game has tons of potential—the game designers are focusing a lot on the game balance and mechanics and are thinking very critically about how the game will be played and consumed for the next year. Clash Royale has a very strong user base and right now and the metagame is being tweaked so that very high-level play and dense strategy can be made. These are key ingredients for an eSport and I believe that once there are more events that can better expose the game as a serious mobile eSport, the overall ecosystem (teams, players, tournament organizations) will grow.
What type of correlation have you seen between mobile consumption of eSports or Clash Royale YouTube content and the rise of mobile eSports like Vainglory and Hearthstone?
Clash Royale is one of our top 15 games on YouTube, so it’s commanded a massive audience. The gameplay is dynamic and short form with consistent updates and tweaks from Supercell, which makes it unique. With the large user base, users have used YouTube as a primary source for their information and entertainment needs. The game is updating constantly and the meta of the game is ever-changing. YouTube has become the home to several creators who have garnered audiences in the millions of subscribers.
How does your own eSports background help with creating competitions like this?
Some people on our team, including myself, have been involved in competitions across the world for the past decade and it has allowed us to have a good idea of what to do and not do in these events. From the flow of the tournament broadcast (less downtime, high production value), to the competitive integrity (the rules and format), viewers need to have a reason to watch. Crafting this event, we knew that we needed players who audiences needed to root for, but we also wanted to root out the best underdog story. We also wanted to dangle a large cash prize in order to truly bring out some of the best players (we had high attendance from Korea and out-of-state participants). Although Clash Royale isn’t revered as one of the top eSport games in the scene, it has a lot of the personalities, hardcore fans and accessibility that can make it a strong contender.
Is this an experiment or potential beginning of a bigger push into organized eSports or competitive gaming events?
We love being able to offer our gaming community a place to watch all kinds of content. From VoD, 360, live, mobile and more. We’ll continue to make sure gamers come to the platform and are welcomed to experience some of the best eSports competitions in the world.