SXSW 2018: Razer signs first mobile eSports team, talks future of competitive gaming with Skillz

Mobile eSports dominated SXSW Gaming this year with a number of tournaments sponsored by Razer Phone, including Arena of Valor Collegiate Showdown and Clash Royale Super Magical Cup Kings of the Hill.

On a panel on the state of the industry that I moderated with Razer’s GM of Mobile, Tom Moss, and Skillz’s Director of Developer Relationships, David Mok,  Razer made a surprise announcement that it had just signed Team Queso to Team Razer, its first mobile esports team.

“2018 is the year that mobile esports will explode. Cannot stem the tide, there is already such a massive base playing. By far the biggest gaming platform in the world with 2 billion phones, mobile makes up 80% of industry revenue. When PUBG launched in China, there were more players on mobile than PC.” said Moss, “Expect to see multimillion dollar prize pools, dedicated mobile event spaces, even documentaries this year as more brands get on board,” said Moss.

Moss expressed excitement for the quality of content available for the Razer Phone which launched November 2017 for $699. Hit games include Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, Vainglory, Hearthstone, PUBG and Fortnite.

Outside of core, competitive casual gaming is also on the rise with Skillz being named the fastest growing company in America on the Inc. 5000. Skillz enables indie developers to turn their bubble shooter, trivia, and match 3 games into competitive gaming apps with leaderboards, replays, streaming and real money rewards.

As people live longer, some are turning to casual competitive gaming to supplement their income, making mobile esports a viable a part of the gig economy.

“One player earned $130,000 on a Skillz bowling game, had it been offline he would have been the fifth highest bowler on the PGA Bowling Circuit,” said Mok, “90% play for free, but 10% want to put skin in the game.”

Currently there are 12 million players on Skillz, with 1000 games to choose from, and 7,000 developers on the platform, some earning millions. Player base skews slightly female at 55%. Age range is 21 to 50+.

Developers interested in integrating the Skillz SDK can find details at http://www.skillz.com/developers.

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