ESI has a business focus that only a handful of outlets have. Is there less competition because the serious side of esports is a ‘less glamorous’ area compared to event coverage or roster changes?
It's no secret that this is the least glamourous side of esports for the general public.
They care more about the actual games themselves and not the stuff that makes them tick, so obviously the things that event organisers do and anything else that's about business, they don't really seem to care as long as they get what they want for free, they're happy.
It's also not a surprise to anyone that the viewership isn't here compared to a Ninja streaming story or Shroud going to Mixer or Astralis winning ECS Finals but it is necessary that we cover it.
It's the quality of the people that are viewing this story as it can be people from outside of the industry, such as marketing managers at non-endemic brands, that look at our website to try to figure out where the space is at and then potentially invest so it's incredibly important but just not glamorous.
With you mentioning how important the content is, is it hard to find writers with the knowledge and ability to help get those stories across accurately and to a high standard, especially considering those potential non-endemic eyes that could be on each piece?
It's incredibly hard to find people who are willing to write about the business of esports because people tend to get into esports writing through their passion for games.
For example, I was a Call of Duty guy so if I wanted to get into writing when I was younger, it would have been through that game but no one grows up following the business side of things. It's not a typical source of passion.
There aren’t many people who you can rely on to break the tough stories, let’s be real, but I’m doing my best to add my name to that list.— Adam Fitch (@byadamfitch) November 18, 2019
As sad as it may sound to some, I fucking live and breathe this shit. I have for almost two years and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
When you do find somebody who actually does want to know what makes the industry tick and wants to help move the industry forward in ways people don't really think about, you've got to keep hold of them as much as possible.
I'd say there's probably only a handful of people who are good and consistent at providing business coverage in the industry.
What advice would you give to an aspiring esports business writer or someone simply wanting to learn more about that side of esports?
I'd say like most things, it helps to speak to people who know about the topic.
Of course it's good to visit ESI and get abreast of what's going on but if you actually network and find people who work in the industry or cover it such as myself or the Esports Observer's staff, you can actually have a conversation, get takes, try to understand why certain deals have been made or why there isn't a particular standard yet.
There’s a bigger problem here with esports organisations not properly utilising revenue streams.— Adam Fitch (@byadamfitch) November 1, 2019
We WANT to give you our money but we’re not going to be ripped off.
It's about both taking it in and speaking to people about it and that's the best way to really digest what's going on.
It's fair to say you’re outspoken on many issues from PUBG Corp. to poor practice from media outlets and are not afraid to disagree with players or talent on social media, why do you think so few challenge the status quo?
People are prioritising their relationships and potential opportunities down the line over truth which makes no real sense to me but it depends what you stand for.
I've never been one for bulls**t. I don't really like bulls**t. I don't think it's very helpful in many situations.
I've just always thought it's better to say things how they are. I guess you could say the same about the other people that do this sort of thing where they speak out about whatever it is that's wrong.
People won't always like it but it's probably what's best for them most of the time, but they are really protective and rather selfish at times I believe.
If you're not a journalist, there's nothing really forcing you to tell the truth all the time.
There's a lot of s**t going wrong in esports, a lot of things that shouldn't be happening and sometimes it's impossible to report on them but you still want to talk about them.
I don’t understand how people in esports keep failing upwards.— Adam Fitch (@byadamfitch) November 13, 2019
Do companies even vet prospective employees before whipping out a contract?
You've got to play it safe there and tread the line carefully but whenever something's fair game and possible to speak about without potentially hurting or damaging something, it's worth doing.
I'd encourage people to be more honest, although I do understand it's not always the best thing for them personally and you have to think about yourself in all of this.
People preserving relationships seems to be seen as the consequence of perceived cronyism and nepotism within some areas of esports. Do you think it is a consequence of esports' niche and can, or rather should it be changed in any way?
I don't think we will ever irradicate it but it's present everywhere across every business and every industry.
As more people outside of the scene come into it who don't know anybody but are very qualified to do the job they're going for, we may see it slow down a little bit.
Esports started with a very small group of people who were mostly friendly and as time has gone on, they've stayed friends and more people have come in and befriended the small group and it has expanded and expanded and expanded.
Right now, there's a lot of people who know a lot of people and it's just all about who you know.
What you know helps, but I don't think we will ever fully get rid of it and it will hurt the scene in some ways but there's literally nothing you can do about it, it's just how it is.
One way we have seen new people and players in esports is through the growing battle royale genre of games. Despite being popular titles, they have struggled to cement themselves as viable esports. What is the biggest issue they face, in your opinion?
A big part of the reason battle royales will never take off is the spectator experience is awful and it's just the nature of the game that it's going to be very hard to follow 50, 60 or 100 people at once.
Fans wanting to follow a game need to be able to understand what the hell is going on. If you can't discern what's happening or follow your favourite teams or players, you're less likely to tune in to see what's happening.
There are random elements to the game which make it harder to be consistent. Depending on which direction the plane comes in, what kind of loot you get in your areas, you can never fully predict it or know ahead of time.
People can't seem to get past the elements of luck which is fair. In competition, you want everybody to have the same opportunity to succeed and it's how individuals seize that opportunity to separate the worst players from the best players.
The inherent randomness in the genre doesn't help it at all and I don't see how any game is going to change that unless it's simply not being a battle royale.
I don't have a clear segue into this next topic other than saying Fortnite player Bugha won at the Esports Awards. There was some criticism as usual for who ended up taking home awards.
You won an award this year at the UK Esports Awards, winning Reporter of the Year. While you might be biased, do you think that awards are important to esports or is trying to give out awards so broadly too contentious?
I think it's a good thing to recognise the people who have excelled. you won't ever find a completely fair format the way people like where everyone is impartial to everything and there's an exact science as to who the best player has been, etc.
It's impossible when there are different games across different genres and it's impossible to compare them that way so it all comes down to a matter of opinion and slight bias whether people admit it or not.
There's no real harm in it as long as people don't live or die by these awards, yeah it's a nice pat on the back but that's all it is. If anyone treats it that way, they're deluded.
When I won my award, I wasn't expecting it but when it happened, I was like 'okay that's cool' and carried on doing what I was doing.
Reporter of the Year is the award given for journalism by the UK Esports Awards while the Esports Awards uses Journalist of the Year. A title like 'content creator' is reserved for streamers or vloggers when a lot of esports writers create content more than produce journalism. Does the choice of word in the title of the award matter?
It would be nice to have more specific categories like vlogger of the year, livestreamer of the year and video producer of the year maybe, but I feel like being a journalist is different skill. A skill that goes beyond simply creating content. It's the ability to network, verify facts and get the truth out there which is very different from just hopping on Twitch.
Yes, it's creating content but it's a very different kind and I think it should be separate. Also, I don't think content creators and streamers are particularly esports, not inherently, so there's a problem there.
We're just banding in more game-related awards just to get more eyes on the awards shows. It doesn't make sense to me.
Either it's esports or games, why do you need to mix games into esports when esports is clearly its own niche thing.