Qualcomm Technologies is jumping, driving, shooting and brawling its way into the fast-growing world of esports.
On March 8, the company announced it has partnered with ESL Gaming, the world’s largest esports company, to stage the Snapdragon Pro Series – a global, multi-year series of mobile esports tournaments with a prize pool of $2 million.
“The rapid rise of mobile esports is well-documented, and we’re incredibly proud of the role ESL has played in that to date,” said Rodrigo Samwell, CCO at ESL Gaming. “Our new collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies and its Snapdragon brand will elevate our mobile ecosystem to its fullest potential. We’re excited to transform the future of mobile esports for players and fans around the world, continuing to create a world where everybody can be somebody.”
‘Era of Everyone’
Patrick Perkins, head of marketing gaming and graphics at Qualcomm, describes the transition of esports to mobile phones as the “era of everyone.” In the early 2000s, gamers competed on expensive PCs but as technology advanced gaming systems became more available to more people. Today, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Elite Gaming features have “desktop level capability” inside mobile phones.
“A few years ago, you’d have thought to yourself there’s no way possible,” Perkins said, adding that there are now more than 2.4 billion gamers using mobile devices.
“If you take all the PC gamers and all the console gamers and add them up, you’re still nowhere near that number,” he said. “The beauty of it is that anyone can compete so while what started off as an elitist thing that to be the best you had to have all the equipment. Now it’s like if you are a person and you have a pulse and you have a phone and just about everybody does, you can compete and you can take part in this competition with a $2 million prize pool.”
Perkins said he is hoping to see stories of gamers from around the world breaking into the esports world with this chance to compete and “actually win some money and get some notoriety.”
Wide World of Esports
The Snapdragon Pro Series will be a comprehensive global mobile esports ecosystem, with tournaments in 87 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East, China, North Africa and Asia-Pacific.
In addition to the different countries, the tournament will also feature different game titles across multiple genres, like shooting, racing, fighting, brawling, etc.
“Something that fits everyone’s appetite,” he said, adding that the tournaments will feature multiple titles from top publishers and developers from around the world to make the competitions “regionally relevant.”
“A very popular title in Mexico might be different than one in Europe and it’s great to know that we can actually pick and choose those titles so that it means something for the people in that region,” he said.
The Snapdragon Pro Series has three levels of competition. The first level, the Mobile Open, is a series of regional online competition open to anyone who wishes to compete. The top group of competitors from each region will then move on the Mobile Challenge – regional, live and in person events “where you have arenas filled with tens of thousands of people rooting on people playing on their phones – really cool,” Perkins said.
The top group of competitors from that series are then invited to compete in the Mobile Masters – a final round competition held in one yet to be announced city.
Marketing and More
Perkins said Qualcomm and ESL have been working on the idea of this series for over a year “Everyone knew it made sense and there was a lot of crossing the t’s dotting the i’s, but everybody recognized that combining a best-in-class company with the best-in-class league, something good is going to happen.”
For Qualcomm, that something good is massive, worldwide exposure to show off the capabilities of its Snapdragon Elite Gaming processor.
“Qualcomm Technologies is all-in on gaming,” said Don McGuire, Qualcomm senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “Snapdragon Elite Gaming has led the industry across the mobile gaming technology stack benefiting gamers at all levels and enabling the ecosystem to deliver best in class gameplay. In partnership with ESL, Snapdragon Pro Series will be an important additional pillar of our comprehensive gaming strategy allowing us to build category leadership in mobile esports globally.”
Perkins said that when people buy mobile phones, they are usually looking for two features – a good camera and good gaming “so people watching top competitors using Snapdragon really markets the brand well. Gaming is such a great display of what technology can do.”
That display will be in front of not only the tens of thousands of people watching the events live at arenas around the world, but also billions of gamers watching at home on Twitch and YouTube – platforms that have interactive technology like chat rooms and “shoutcasters” doing play-by-play that make viewers “feel part of the action, getting the inside knowledge, being able to contribute,” Perkins said.
In addition to marketing, Qualcomm will also benefit from the tournament in another way, according to Perkins.
“Snapdragon Elite Gaming is a premium brand. It puts the tools in your hands that are going to give you that advantage,” he said. “One of our taglines is ‘Winning Matters.’ So putting Snapdragon phones in the hands of the world’s best competitors, we can get that feedback, open up that dialogue about what what’s working, what can be improved, because we’re always looking for what’s next.”
CEO: Cristiano Amon
Headquarters: San Diego
Business: Processors for mobile phones, computers
Revenue: $33.57 billion (2021)
Stock: QCOM (NASDAQ)
Notable: Snapdragon Elite Gaming’s advanced game optimizations, ultra-realistic graphics and lightning connectivity allow mobile phone gamers to play online with gamers on PCs.