Lifelong fans of videogames and passionate members of the eSports community, Alexandra Merz and Marc Berthold realized that there was need for a social media platform centered on eSports players and fans. And to fill this void they founded World eSport. Wanting to learn more about this startup, Marc and Alexandra allowed me to interview them for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some video games you two loved playing? Are there any classic video games that you’d both love to see embraced by eSports?
Alexandra Merz: I loved and still love fighting games! I started with playing Streetfighter on the PC and then moved to Tekken on the console. And both games have been embraced by eSport, even if these aren’t the most popular games. Furthermore, Marc and I enjoy playing and making FIFA clips for our users during our free time. I guess we all know and see how FIFA keeps evolving in the eSport industry, especially with football teams getting into eSport as well.
Marc Berthold: I remember that the first FPS I played was Wolfenstein, but the first game I played in multiplayer was Outlaws! My cousin and I were on two different computers (but in LAN in the same room), and we were playing this game 1vs1. It was really fun to fight in this western atmosphere, perform a suppressing fire with the Gatling or eventually see the dynamite ending up in the water without exploding. Since we both were already really competitive (even though 9/10 years old), we most of the time had to put a piece of carton between our two screens not to check where the other was standing. Beside Outlaws which was our first FPS experience, we really loved to play Age of Empires II (this time online) against each other. Would be fantastic to have an Age of Empires IV dedicated to eSports!
Yanes: When did you both begin to realize that eSports was becoming a large and profitable industry? Was there a specific moment when you two knew that you wanted to get into this industry sooner rather than later?
Marc Berthold: I have always been part of the eSports industry as I was a pro gamer for more than 10 years. After I ended my eSports career and finished my Master’s degree, I wanted to get some experience but was still highly addicted to Gaming & eSports, so I kept an eye on it. I had the chance to experience and live so many things while traveling to attend competitions, I wanted to be able to help this industry. And once you have tasted eSports, it’s hard to get rid of it. So I knew that sooner or later, I would build something for others to enjoy it even more.
When Alexandra and I met, I had a vague idea of what World eSport should be, but the enthusiasm she showed me during our first talks convinced us both that it had to be this project as quick as possible.
Yanes: What are some popular misconceptions you both think eSports needs to overcome?
Marc Berthold: First of all, even if this is slowly changing, eSports is still a word that a lot of people never heard about. It is important to communicate about it so people don’t take us for Aliens when we mention it.
Secondly, in most people’s mind, when you talk about eSports & Gaming, people picture a fat kid with acne playing in the dark in front of his computer and who dropped out of college. This is depressing to hear this kind of stereotypes. Most pro gamers are really smart people and end up with Master’s degrees or more.
There is a last thing that really pisses me off. in France, most of the time when there was a story about a teenager involved in some kind of crime or violence, you could be sure that all the media covering the story would say that he was an intensive gamer, as if playing video games implies that you will end up committing a crime. This is definitely something that needs to change.
Yanes: You both founded the company, World eSport. What was the inspiration for this company?
Marc Berthold: As mentioned previously, I have always been involved in eSports and I wanted to give back to this industry everything I had the chance to learn and live through it. With Alexandra, we wanted to give the gamers of the world, the eSports enthusiasts, a place to gather and to fully enjoy their passion. We want to provide the eSports industry a tool that will help it be more structured in order to continue growing.
Yanes: At its core, World eSport is a social media platform. Given how difficult it is to launch another social media company, what are some steps that World eSport is taking to become profitable? Is there a minimum number of users World eSport needs to hit?
Marc Berthold: Building a new social network is indeed not the easiest thing to do, as people already have to check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat etc. But from our own experience and from the feedback we receive from gamers all around the world, these platforms are not adapted to eSport & Gaming. They are used to these because they are the only ones available, but they are really not designed for this industry. This is why we believe World eSport is legitimate in the market. The biggest challenge for us is to make people aware of World eSport and to make them try. Once they’ve tried it, our users usually really love the platform and continue to use it.
There is no specific number of users that we would like to welcome on World eSport, but with 360 Million eSports enthusiasts around the globe, we want to make sure that they all have their place on the platform.
Yanes: World eSport started offering legal services. What are some common legal issues that eSports competitors and teams regularly face?
Alexandra Merz: Indeed, we have just recently launched an additional service to World eSport, called World eSport Legal Services (http://legal.worldesport.com/). We aim to offer consulting on what we believe are the common legal issues in the eSport industry based on our experience and feedback. One of the most common issues is drafting a contract correctly. These often lack logic, structure and core clauses essential in the eSports industry.
Furthermore, Intellectual Property rights are a new field to many in the eSports industry and can create obstacles along the way. These IP rights impact websites, logos, brand names, broadcasting rights for tournaments/events, licensing, sponsorship, merchandising etc.
Yanes: On this note, given how complicated legal issues can be, how is World eSport hoping to help players from all over the world?
Alexandra Merz: Our aim is to offer the players from all over the world a service, which can understand their needs best. How? By combining the long-term eSports experience with the legal expertise we have. We thereby want to ensure to provide the most suitable service for this specific eSports audience. We are trying to educate the young generation and to raise the awareness they need in this industry and we certainly keep our doors open for any future inquiries. Our clients are our priority.
Yanes: An issue I think that is still a problem with eSports at large is harassment towards women and minorities. What are some ways World eSport is trying to address this problem?
Alexandra Merz: As the Co-founder of World eSport and the CEO of World eSport Legal Services, I am actively involved in representing women in eSports & Gaming. Our social network dedicated to the professional and casual eSports & Gaming industries is open for everyone and anyone who is interested in these industries, who is willing to create a team or find one, who is willing to connect with other players from all around the world and soon search for jobs and positions. We invite everyone to make use of this platform and we do not tolerate any kind of harassment or racism. We have strict terms on these in our Terms & Conditions and take every report abuse submission seriously.
Yanes: Given that World eSport is based in the UK, what are some ways that Brexit might impact UK esports players?
Alexandra Merz: Yes, it is correct that we are a UK registered company, however we work remotely and are always on the go. We have plans and are working on these, including establishing a headquarter in a different country, which is more suitable for our long-term goals.
Yanes: Finally, what are the long term goals for World eSport? Ten years from now, where would you two like to see the company at?
Marc Berthold: Our objective for World eSport is to create a hub dedicated to the eSport & Gaming industries. We want to offer the different actors of the market (casual, semi pro or pro gamers, teams, companies, associations etc.) a platform where they can gather and interact, discuss about eSports and grow together.
We believe that eSports needs this kind of place to bring some structure in the market, and we want to help to achieve this. Our aim is to help everyone enjoy their passion as much as possible by providing them a platform and the tools dedicated to eSports.