Oct 10, 2014

The next big thing: Competitive video gaming

by | News

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Video gaming is about to enter the realm of popular sports.

That’s what Todd Harris, of Alpharetta-based gaming company Hi-Rez Studios, claims is the next big thing in gaming.

He gave his thoughts at the monthly meeting of the Greater Alpharetta Tech Network Aug. 21 at the Golf Club of Georgia.

Video streaming service Twitch has gained popularity in recent years for allowing viewers to watch other people play video games. In February 2014, the site had 45 million viewers, making it the fourth largest source of internet traffic in the U.S. It sold recently to Amazon for nearly $1 billion.

This corresponds with a trend Harris has been seeing for a while. One of the highest viewed YouTube channels is not Miley Cyrus or any other celebrity page. Instead, it’s a channel created by one man – PewDiePew – taking videos of himself playing games. He has 30 million followers and 3.5 billion views.

“Watching people play games is a very big thing,” Harris said.

It is becoming much like traditional sporting events – people get excited for their team or their players to succeed.

Of course, like other sports, there is a lot of money to be had as well.

Harris and Hi-Rez plan on bringing professional video gaming to Atlanta next year in the form of a tournament of their game “Smite,” a god-and-goddess-based fighting game.

With a pot of close to $1 million, he expects plenty of players and hundreds of thousands of people watching – both live and online. Harris said the competition will be at the Cobb Energy Center Jan. 9 – 11.

“It’s going to be a high-tech, high-energy sporting event and rock concert,” Harris said.

Hi-Rez is Alpharetta-based and has released three games – “Global Agenda,” “Tribes: Ascend” and “Smite.” They were founded in 2005 from local workers.

Hi-Rez Studios can be found online at http://www.hirezstudios.com/.


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