The rapid growth of esports brings with it a correspondingly rapid growth of the events that support them. This growth also brings a change to the fabric of the industry. Investors new to the esports space will be tasked with putting on events, some of which will be temporary installs and some will be permanent. In addition, existing players will continue to expand their event footprints; businesses with experience doing temporary installs will expand to permanent installs and vice versa. As with any change, these changes bring a lot of questions with them and we’re here to help.
Starting at the design phase of either a permanent or temporary installation, the differences between the two become pretty obvious. “When you’re building a temporary installation, you’re essentially building a huge puzzle that has to be assembled and disassembled many times,” explains Mike Graziani, eGency Global’s VP of Design. “This requirement changes the way you approach its design and engineering; it’s not a bad thing, but you have to take into account that these things have to be put together quickly and taken down quickly.”
As you’re considering design choices that meet the demands of a temporary installation, packing and shipping need to be top of mind. Since these installations will be packed and shipped multiple times, they represent the two biggest costs associated with temporary installations. “Packing and shipping need to be prioritized as you’re putting together design and fabrication plans. The heavier the material, the higher the shipping cost. The more complicated the assembly, the more expensive it will be to put the thing together,” Graziani observed. “When you multiply these costs by the number of times the installation will be built, it’s obvious that these things need to be top of mind when you’re planning temporary installations. Again, though, these aren’t inherently ‘bad’ things; it simply presents a different kind of challenge to design and engineering folks.”
Intrinsic to the discussion about the complexity of temporary installations and their shipping costs is the decision on the materials that will be used to actually create the experience. Wear and tear becomes a top level consideration as plans are being put together. “As an example, wood products are great building materials, but you have to keep in mind that repeatedly screwing through the same points of contact will eventually cause some instability for which you’ll have to pre-plan,” says Graziani. “On the other hand, you have something like aluminum, which is light, strong and very reusable. The trade off is that we use camlocks to assemble with aluminum, which puts a limitation on the angles of construction. With this material in particular, using camlocks, 90 degrees is the ideal angle of assembly; that’s a limitation you don’t have with wood.”
Another important consideration when discussing temporary installations are the technical capabilities / limitations of the venue. Thinking specifically about esports events, you’re going to be looking – for the most part – at stadiums and convention centers, most of which were designed with large numbers of temporary installations in mind. As a result, designing for the technical lowest common denominator is the best way to ensure that the installation will work at, for example, the Javits Center and the LA Convention Center. Think here of things like electric, wi-fi, and plumbing/water supplies. Having a baseline design in place that addresses the minimum capability for each of these ensures efficient builds and disassemblies. At the same time, though, having a “plus up” plan for venues that have additional technical capabilities is a good way to make the most of your event installations.
As esports continue their march into mainstream consciousness, game makers, teams, broadcasters, and even sponsors will be presented with more and more opportunities to put together permanent installations. Like temporary installs, permanent installations present their own set of limitations and opportunities.
“People who’ve been primarily working with temporary installations stand to be pleasantly surprised by permanent installs,” Graziani says. “While this isn’t the case all of the time, permanent installs could be cheaper than people think. Differences in the costs of design, engineering, and packing/shipping all present an opportunity to provide differentiated experiences that can meet and even beat budget expectations.”
The differences in permanent installations present themselves at the design and engineering phases of the project. From a design perspective, many of the caveats that govern the design of temporary installs don’t apply. “When you’re designing a permanent installation, you do it with the understanding that it needs to be packed up once, shipped once, and assembled once,” eGency Global’s Graziani explains. “This opens up a lot of opportunity for designers. They can introduce some complexity that makes the experience truly one of a kind because it only has to be assembled once.”
Permanent installations also open up a lot of opportunity when it comes to choosing materials. “We’ve done a lot of gaming and esports installations over the years, both temporary and permanent. One of the things that’s a consistent requirement for esports installs is a broadcasting/shoutcasting desk. When we do these for temporary installs, we use acrylic much of the time because of its material and shipping cost. When we look at permanent esports installs, we have the option of looking at sturdier material – like heavy duty glass – that looks ‘weightier’ both in streams and in person,” says Graziani of the materials possibilities. “The material costs a bit more, as does the one time shipping cost, but it’s a net savings because you’re only shipping it once.”
Audio visual design is another area where permanent installs have a chance to shine. “Esports installations are, by necessity, very AV heavy,” Graziani continues. “When we’re looking at permanent installs, the possibilities really open up. Gaming and esports are moving beyond the age of the straight-up 16×9 video wall that mirrors the gameplay on players’ screens. We’re starting to expand these display walls beyond the 16×9 aspect ratio so that we can include motion graphics that wrap around gameplay AND provide viewers/attendees context that helps make sense of the action on screen,” he says. “And things just keep getting cooler. The possibility of sharing these one-of-a-kind experiences with people online via AR/VR is definitely on our radar.”
The demand for event production in esports will continue grow in line with the sport itself, which brings both opportunities and challenges. Temporary installs are great opportunities for partners of every stripe to provide differentiated experiences that can surprise and delight physical AND online attendees. Permanent installs open up a lot of design, engineering, and fabrication opportunities that aren’t traditionally associated with temporary installs, but the requirement on design is particularly heavy; after all, you’re only building it and installing it once. Regardless of which option you’re considering, eGency Global has the people, the experience, and the expertise to make your esports event both painless and successful.
To learn how you or your organization can tap into opportunities in esports, please visit www.egencyglobal.com or call 972-323-6354 to speak with an eGency Global esports expert today.