CASE STUDY: OP Live Dallas 2018
Sept. 22-23, 2018 – Irving Convention Center – Irving Texas
From the beginning, the founders of OP Live – eGency Global and SMU Guildhall – set out to create a unique experience – a family friendly esports event with a collaborative spirit. The founder’s intent was to create an inclusive experience where video gaming enthusiasts, parents, academia and industry could come together for two days of fun activities, lively competitions and education about the growing esports industry.
Unlike traditional tournament-style esports events that focus primarily on competition, OP Live also encourages attendees to open their minds and contemplate the big picture of esports:
- How to translate a passion for gaming into a career.
- What parents, schools and industry can do to help make that happen.
- Why that’s a good thing for all concerned.
An Event Propelled by Collaboration
OP Live Dallas was produced through the collaboration of eGency Global and SMU Guildhall, the top ranked graduate school for video game design in the world. Both organizations have long committed to helping students grow their careers in the esports world, so coming together to create an event that furthers that purpose made perfect sense.
They just needed to convince other industry players to come on board. Enter…
After learning more about OP Live from SMU Guildhall’s Mark Nausha, GameStop, the multi-channel retailer of video games and more, came on board as an OP Live partner early on. John Davidson, Head of GameStop Partnerships, felt the event aligned well with GameStop’s brand promise: Power to the Players.
“College kids are very passionate, but often have limited resources. Our goal through this partnership was to amplify awareness of the event to increase attendance and provide equipment and prizing to augment the experience. This event brings the entire community together in a unique way, which is exactly what we want to support,” Davidson says.
GameStop promoted the event via email and boosted Facebook posts (1 million+ impressions), and by hanging flyers in 154 locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. GameStop also provided prizes for attendees.
Over the next few months, other sponsors came on board, from Reaction A/V – which handled all of the A/V installation for the event – to The Trade Group – general contractor and more for OP Live and sister company of eGency Global.
Bring On the BIG GUNS: Team Envy and the Dallas Fuel
After enlisting GameStop’s help to support the event, the OP Live team reached out to Dallas-based Envy Gaming to see if they would participate in some way. Envy Gaming is the owner/operator for popular esports franchise Team Envy and Overwatch League franchise the Dallas Fuel. Excited to have a new opportunity to engage with local esports fans, Envy Gaming came on board in a big way.
According to Stephanie Chavez, Marketing Director at eGency Global, “In order for OP Live to be successful, we knew we had to get fans excited about attending the event. The Dallas Fuel and Team Envy have a huge fan base here in Dallas and beyond, so their agreeing to participate really helped raise the profile of the event.”
Through the partnership, Team Envy and the Dallas Fuel made their pro players and staff available for meet and greets, autograph signings and coaching and educational sessions for fans. Both teams also took part in OP Live’s pro-am tournament – the Bounty Royale Brawl – and fans could nab team swag through contests and giveaways at the event.
Gaming with a Purpose: Raising Funds for Local Kids with ExtraLifeTM
The gaming community is known for its inclusivity, diversity and passion for giving back, so the event organizers wanted to include a charitable component with OP Live. SMU Guildhall had previously collaborated with ExtraLife, a charity affiliated with Dallas-based, non-profit Children’s Health, a member of the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals, so Nausha asked if they wanted to get involved, and they agreed.
ExtraLife was the perfect fit as the charity of choice, because it was founded by video gamers who wanted to raise money for kids in their local communities. Through ExtraLife, individual gamers signed up to raise funds while competing at OP Live. Over $500 was raised during the event – funds that go directly to Children’s Health – plus, 40 new gamers signed up to fundraise for ExtraLife in the future.
“The partnership with ExtraLife and OP Live was really a win-win all around. It gave gamers the opportunity to give back, and local children will ultimately benefit. As OP Live expands into other markets, we look forward to aligning with ExtraLife again,” says Chavez.
Let’s Play! Pro, Collegiate and Fan Competitions
COLLEGIATE OVERWATCH15 Colleges144 College Players
BOUNTY ROYALE BRAWL PRO-AM
4 Duo Teams Pro Players
92 Duo Teams Amateurs
3 Collegiate Teams
C’mon, what’s an esports event without some great competition? The OP Live team wanted to provide competitions for gamers of all ages and skill levels, especially local pro teams, students from nearby high schools and college esports teams in the region. OP Live hit all of those balls out of the park with the following events:
Bounty Royale Brawl featuring Fortnite
Duos of OP Live attendees were able to take on other fans and duo teams of pro esports players from pro teams Complexity, CLG (Counter Logic Gaming), and Team Envy. The fourth pro team called the Dream Stream Team, consisted of pro streamers PinkMeatBall and TopGun.
Players competed to earn a spot in the final Bounty Royale Brawl Over Powered round by hunting and eliminating a pro (or winning a round to earn a Victory Royale). Meanwhile, pros competed to eliminate as many players as possible, until the final round, where they hunted each other as well. The Dream Stream Team’s TopGun and PinkMeatBall prevailed in the final round.
“We were beyond thrilled that Epic Games agreed to bring Fortnite to OP Live. Fortnite is the hottest video game out there today, and the fans loved competing in the Brawl. A total of 98 attendee duo pairs participated, which made the Bounty Royale Brawl a huge success,” Chavez says.
Collegiate Overwatch Tournament Powered by Team Envy and the Dallas Fuel
Fifteen college esports teams comprised of 144 players from Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas were invited to face off in the collegiate Overwatch tournament at OP Live. Invited teams had chance to prove themselves in front of members of the Dallas Fuel and Head Coach Aaron “Aero” Atkins.
The tournament progressed through opening rounds, quarterfinals and semifinals, before culminating in the tournament finals, where the University of North Texas topped the University of Oklahoma to become the Over Powered Champs.
Today’s students will ultimately direct the evolution of esports in the years to come, and technology will play a key role. So, the OP Live team decided to challenge students by adding a hackathon to the mix. For the GameChangers Hackathon, local students were invited to build an application to aid the esports industry. Three collegiate teams of three to four students participated.
First place honors went to Team 1’s eRecruit’ Discord bot, a tool that helps esports players get noticed by recruiters, while allowing recruiters to easily compare potential recruits for their teams. The Discord bot scrapes various APIs and game servers to retrieve a player’s stats, compile valuable stats into one embed message and output the message on discord.
eGency Global CEO Chris Stone was blown away by the perseverance and smarts of the students involved. As he explains, “We knew the students would bring their A games, but we were astounded by the range of creativity and technical know-how the teams displayed. The hackathon also helped demonstrate how a passion for gaming can translate into a career in the real world, which is what OP Live is all about.”
SMU Guildhall Games on Display and Available to Play
As the #1 graduate school for game design in the world, SMU Guildhall students and staff are always creating new and exciting games. At OP Live, attendees were able to get an exclusive look at the next generation of games and even give several of the new titles a try.
People who love gaming love trying out new games they’ve never seen before. Needless to say, the SMU Guildhall Games booth was one of the busiest spots at the show.
Powered Talks: Education and Insight from Esports Insiders
To watch any of the Powered or Parent talks, visit the OP Live Dallas YouTube channel.
The goal for the OP Live Powered Talks was to help the passionate gamer understand how it truly is possible to find a meaningful career in the industry they love. To motivate attendees to pursue careers in esports, OP Live asked successful esports streamers, developers, organizers and professional teams to share their stories.
Through the Powered Talks, industry icons explained how they got started in the industry and turned their passions into a career. The line-up included success stories from:
- Aaron “Aero” Atkins, Head Coach, The Dallas Fuel – Tips and Tricks to Coaching and How to Become a Coach
- Luis Cataldi, Global Education Evangelist, Epic Games – Tips and Tricks About Unreal Engine
- Mark “Garvey” Candella, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Leader of Student Program, Twitch – Twitch University Student Program
- John Davidson, Head of GameStop Partnerships – Esports Trade Association and the Various Roles of Esports
- Charles Egenbacher, Project Manager, Epic Games – How SMU Guildhall Helped Me Break Into Gaming
- Kevin “Kebunbun” Hoang, Account Manager, Twitch – Building an Esports Team at University of Washington
- Kyle Langley, Technical Designer, Epic Games – Workshop: Building a UE4 Ability System
- Geoff Moore, President and COO, Envy Gaming – Building a Network and Now to Break into the Industry
- Ryan Musselman, Co-owner, Infinite Esports, President, Trigger Fish – Running OpTic Gaming and the Business Side of Esports
- Tyler Schrodt, Founder and CEO, Electronic Gaming Federation – How to Bring an Esports Program to Your Campus
Parent Lost & Found Talks: Yes, your kid could have a future in esports
Video gaming often gets a bad rap in the media, while the upside of gaming and the esports industry gets shoved to the wayside. Through the Parent Lost & Found Talks, OP Live hoped to open parent’s minds and educate them about the rapidly growing career opportunities available in the industry. The line-up spanned a variety of topics, Including:
- Social Communities in Games by Eli Luna (Professor of Practice, Team Game Production, SMU Guildhall)
- Debunking Video Game Myths by Robert Atkins (CEO/Co-Founder BALANCED Media Technology)
- Extra Life & Children’s Miracle Network by a Patient and her Family
- A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Esports by Lean Mateos (Level Designer, Gearbox Software – SMU Guildhall alumni)
- Career Opportunities in Games by Adam Radford (Career Counselor, SMU Guildhall)
- How My Education Helps Me at Gearbox by Mario Rodriguez (Associate Producer, Gearbox Software – SMU Guildhall alumni)
“Many parents believe that their kid’s passion for video games ends at their gaming console or computer. Through the Parent Lost & Found Talks, we wanted to dispel misconceptions about gaming and shine a light on the career opportunities, generosity and inclusivity of the gaming community,” says eGency Global’s Stone.
When parents weren’t attending a talk or watching their kids play games, they could kick back in the Parent Lounge and relax or watch recordings of the Parent Talks on monitors in the space. Volunteers were also available to answer parent’s questions.
Popular Streamers & Cosplayers Meet & Greets and Shout Outs from OP Live
Nationally known (many who are Texas-based) cosplayers, streamers and industry influencers attended OP Live, including cosplayers Tiffany Gordan Cosplay, Frostbite Cosplay and R Squared Cosplay, and streamers and influencers Belle, But Why Tho?, CareLevelZero, TopGun, PhallofPharris, PinkMeatBall, ReclaimJoey, Rover8680, SodaKite and yo_boy_roy.
Fans could snag autographs and photo opps during Meet & Greets with their favorite streamers and cosplayers or chat them up on the trade show floor. Cosplayers also partnered up with the Dallas Fuel for added exposure.
Three streaming pods provided by Event Architecture were available to streamers during the event.
Chavez was pleased with the turnout of popular gaming icons. As she explains, “Gaming fans love chatting up and taking photos with their favorite streamers and cosplayers, as well as sharing those experiences digitally (social, text and email). Those shares, along with the streaming and social sharing done by the streamers and cosplayers, really helped raise visibility for OP Live during the event and for the long-term.”
Photo Booths Encourage Social Sharing, Raise Visibility
PHOTO BOOTH KEY STATS
To further encourage attendees to spread the word about OP Live, two Ritratto Photo Booths were available at the event. One was available at the Dallas
Fuel booth and the other at the Meet & Greet area. The Ritrattos provide professional lighting, a variety of fun filters and the option to take a photo or create a GIF.
Guests could share photos directly to social media or via email or text, which made it easy to spread the word about OP Live. Twitter and Instagram were by far the favored social sites for OP Live attendees.
OP Live App: Fun for Attendees with Odyssey Quest Game and Insightful for Sponsors
OP LIVE APP KEY INSIGHTS
The OP Live event app was the attendee’s gateway into and around OP Live. The app also included a map so guests could easily navigate around the convention center. Attendees could also use the app to try to win prizes in the Odyssey Quest game.
In order to get a chance at spinning the prize wheel in the Odyssey Hub, guests could track down and scan 39 different QR codes located throughout the hall. Each scan allowed them to unlock a badge, and upon reaching 15 scans, they could spin the wheel for prizes big and small. Only five players unlocked all 39 badges, which wasn’t easy because they had to defeat a pro player in the Fortnite competition to earn the final badge.
Through the app, attendees were also able to anonymously share their preferences and feedback about OP Live. Since the majority of attendees were millennial gamers and younger, these insights could be helpful for sponsors looking to target this unique market segment at future OP Live events.
Exhibit Hall Provides a Terrific Opportunity for Sponsors
If you own or rep a business that wants to get in front of avid gamers, OP Live was the place to be. In fact one of the vendors, Bang Bang Signs, had to replenish their product supply because attendees loved their metal backlit gun signs so much.
Attendees could check out offerings from a variety of vendors, pick up swag from the Merch Store, grab a snack or stop by the Dallas Fuel booth to meet the team. The Parent’s Lounge and Art Gallery were located nearby, as was the double-decker VIP Lounge, provided by Event Architecture.
Other exhibitors included Team Envy and the Dallas Fuel, Dial Up Games, Pecos Pete’s, ExtraLife, Epic Games, Eureka Gaming Desks, Anime Pop, Stack Up, Stream Texas and Mowin’ & Throwin’.
Fan Art Gallery Offers Photo Opps and More
Art Galleries are frequently found at esports events due to gamers love for the artwork in their favorite games. The OP Live Team thought it would be nice to include an art gallery at the event, so they invited fans to submit their artwork for the show.
The gallery was a popular spot for photo opps and helped boost the social buzz surrounding the event due to the fan submitted artwork. It was also included as a stop on the Odyssey Quest.
Attendees Share the Love on Social – Here’s What They Had to Say
If you’re wondering if attendees at OP Live Dallas had a GREAT time, search #OPLive18 or @op_live_dallas on Twitter. Here are just a few examples:
Getting the word out: How eGency Global promoted OP Live Dallas
Launching a new live event can be nerve wracking. After all, no one had ever heard of OP Live Dallas until plans for the event were announced in May of 2018. That’s when it paid off to have a top notch strategic marketing team at the ready.
In order to promote the event, the team crafted a digital strategy that would raise awareness about OP Live Dallas four months prior to launch. The goal was to position written, static image and video content and ads promoting the event in front of as many gaming fan eye balls – and their parents – as possible. Tactics included:
PRESS RELEASES: Beginning with a press release announcing the launch of the event, the team sent out 10 press releases prior to launch and one after the event. To optimize the content for search, the press releases included keywords related to esports and gaming, as well as the names of well-known brands and organizations affiliated with the event.
Together, the 11 press releases were picked up more than 2,500 media outlets – including big national and local names like USA Today, NPR, Yahoo Finance, Dallas Business Journal, Dallas Observer and others, as well as leading esports outlets.
The potential audience, impressions and content reads was also impressive.
OP LIVE DALLAS SOCIAL M
EDIA ORGANIC & PAID ADS: The marketing team worked social media hard, posting unpaid content directly to the OP Live Dallas Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram pages and running paid ads (standard and retargeted) on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The ads targeted both millennial gamers and parents.
RADIO ADS. The marketing team also placed traditional ads on local radio stations Univision/KLNO-FM and The Ticket/KTCK-AM, yielding an estimated 255,200 general impressions through the campaign.
STREAMER PARTNER LIVE STREAM FEEDS AND SOCIAL SHOUT OUTS: OP Live Dallas invited several live streamers to attend the event, all who promoted OP Live Dallas during their live streams on Twitch and other video platforms. The partner streamers also promoted the event directly to their followers on Twitter and even through one of the streamer’s podcasts.
PARTNER/COLLABORATOR EMAIL AND SOCIAL PROMOTIONS: GameStop, the Dallas Fuel and Team Envy really came through for OP Live Dallas in the promotions realm. Not only did they boost posts on social media, they also got the word out about the event directly to their customers and fans via email.
So how did it all turn out?
Approximately 1,500 people attended the first ever OP Live Dallas esports event, which pleases the event organizers, especially since it was an inaugural event. By comparison, the first ever PAX gaming event (now PAX West) held in Bellevue, Washington was attended by about 3,300 attendees – PAX West brings in more than 70,000 attendees today. The original DreamHack LAN and esports event in Sweden started with a handful of friends and is now known as the world’s largest festival.
No other esports event brings together gamers, parents, academia and industry at one cohesive event like OP Live Dallas. With all of the positive feedback received from attendees, partners, collaborators and exhibitors, eGency Global and SMU Guildhall believe the future looks bright for OP Live Dallas and other OP Live events across the U.S.
Would you like to participate in an OP Live event near you?
To learn about upcoming dates, sponsorships and other opportunities for schools, businesses and esports teams, contact eGency Global today. Just give us a call at (972) 323-6354 or visit www.egencyglobal.com.