Recently, MMW caught up with Ari and Ben Fox, Producers of CEC and Gameacon, at the Casino Esport and Gameacon Conference. Here’s our exclusive chat.
MMW: Tell us about CEC/Gameacon and how it all started?
Fox Brothers: The “Fox Brothers” started their 20-year relationship with the casino industry by working in marketing and ultimately programming software for the casino transportation segment. The relationship we had with both executives and employees in the casino industry and software developers formed a natural foundation for the start of Gameacon about 5 or 6 years ago. We heard the concern of programmers and game developers that there were no events out there that gave them the platform they needed to reach the public, other devs (developers), potential studios, and employers – like there was for other segments of video gaming.
There was no “Sundance festival” for game developers, and so Gameacon was born. There is a natural intersection of video game development and eSports, and it is this immersion into eSports which led us to realize that this was something the casino industry must gravitate towards if they hope to evolve with the interests of the younger generations. It was obvious to us that the two industries could mutually benefit from each other, but were in different hemispheres needing a bridge to gap the abyss between them. It was for this reason that we created the Casino eSport Conference (CEC).
MMW: Why is the conversion of eSports and the casino industry important for its growth?
Fox Brothers: The incorporation of eSports is essential to the integration of a new and relevant demographic to casino properties. Due to the loss of revenues from aging players, slot machine revenue (which at one time was 70% of the casinos’ revenue) is way down. Casinos need a long term investment and solution, and eSports is the way of the future. There are many, many facets to the eSports industry. The term eSports doesn’t necessarily mean a pro circuit tournament. It can also mean amateur tournaments where locals and vacationers can come out and play together, like the old days of bingo parlors and slot tournaments.
In order to be successful moving forward, casinos must be more than gambling centers. They must provide the entertainment that people want and is relevant to the new generation in order to maintain revenue into the future. Only when you understand the needs and habits of your customers can you properly serve their needs. The CEC was created to educate the casino industry about this generation, how to connect with them, how to host them, how to market to them, and how to give them a pleasing environment that’s satisfying to what they’re looking for in entertainment.
MMW: How has mobile technology influenced eSports now, and what role will it play into the future of this competitive space?
Fox Brothers: Mobile technology is vital to connect and also entertain the next generation of casino-goers. For eSports, it is a direct connection to the community. Mobile devices will be used for more iGaming eSport related themes, betting platforms, marketing purposes, as well as watching live matches. Millennials do not watch traditional TV or listen to traditional radio. Increasingly, they are even eschewing mainstream social media resources like Facebook. They communicate on social media sites like Discord, Reddit, Slack or networks like Twitch, Hitbox or Beam. The power of streaming for casino advertising is immense and will undoubtedly be included as a topic of discussions at next year’s CEC event.
MMW: What is your vision of the CEC & Gameacon conference’s future as you plan to bring it back to Las Vegas in 2018?
Fox Brothers: Our continuing vision for the CEC is to educate casino decision makers about the needs of the new generation, while simultaneously forging real connections between casino executives and people who work in eSports daily – from a local, amateur, and professional level. By bringing in tournament organizers, eSport equipment suppliers, game development studios, game publishers, payment platforms, betting software suppliers, hosting locations, marketing platform providers (such as streamers, and social networks); the CEC will act as a bridge between these two currently disparate industries.