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Designing the Halo Esports Ecosystem

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Welcome back! This is the third installment in our blog series, Designing the Halo Esports Ecosystem. The goal of this blog series is to detail how we are working to develop a healthy and sustainable ecosystem for Halo esports. If you’re interested in our philosophical approach to esports as a fan, player, team, tournament organizer, or sponsor, then this blog series is for you! If you’re hoping to learn specifics about format and roadmap, stay tuned -- more info will be released as we get closer to the launch of Halo Infinite.

If you’re new to the series and want to get caught up, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. You can read the first two installments here:

Thank you to everyone who has been reading along and asking questions on Twitter as well. I want to give a special shoutout to minimightymouse, who not only shows up to all the events to support the scene, but has also been asking great questions about each blog. I’m looking forward to our next conversation!

Alright, so today we won’t be talking about a specific key group, but rather one of our goals: viewership.

Viewership is absolutely critical to the success of our esports program and ecosystem, and our goal with Halo Infinite is to increase viewership not only on our own Halo channels, but across the ecosystem at large.  

Why is viewership so important?

  1. Watching games is a massive part of gaming culture and for years Halo fans have extended their involvement in the community outside of the game. We believe watching Halo and being part of that ecosystem provides a strong sense of community and incredible entertainment. We want to provide more for fans in this realm. Additionally, strong viewership is important to bringing in new fans and potential players at big moments as well as over time. We also believe that a game with strong viewership is a game that can create a virtuous cycle. If a game is entertaining to watch, has great esports content and streamers, and has strong viewership, the entire ecosystem will continue to grow organically over time. More viewership = more incentive to stream, more diverse content, more financial support for streamers (including competitive players), bigger and better tournaments, and more interest in the scene as a whole.
  2. Viewership is important to the key groups in our ecosystem, so therefore it is important to us. Teams look at viewership as a key metric of success, and it often determines how willing they are to invest in the scene. Pros who compete in a game that commands great viewership are also likely to see big audiences for their own content, which can help elevate them as athletes and personalities (a long-lasting takeaway). Tournament Operators that work with high-viewership games can monetize more easily and are likely to continue to invest in that scene.
  3. Fans and viewers give energy to the scene and make it more exciting for everyone. When Frosty hits an insane no-scope and Twitch chat starts moving so fast you can’t even read what people are saying, it feels like you’re a part of a moment, witnessing something special alongside thousands of other fans. The same is true on-site at live events: the place erupts, like when Snip3down clutches a 1v4 Overkill. That energy and feeling is infectious, and big moments like that will entice more people to join the scene and start watching.

How are we thinking about growing viewership?

So obviously we all want viewership to grow, but what’s the overall strategy for the new Halo esports ecosystem?

  1. Diversify: For years and years, Halo’s live viewership came almost exclusively from tournaments, pro players, and hardcore modes. And while we want to continue to grow viewership for tournaments and pro players, we ultimately believe that a healthy ecosystem must have a diversity of content and audiences. Halo as a game has so many fun and interesting experiences to offer, and as the culture of content creation permeates the Halo community, we want to enable and support content creators regardless of the modes they play. And just so I’m clear, in our minds this does not come at the expense of the core competitive multiplayer that Halo esports was built on – this is an effort to grow the pie.
  2. Partnerships: We believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Because of this, we have been working diligently to find as many “1 + 1 = 3” partnerships as possible for Halo esports. How can we partner with teams to ultimately bring more fans to the sport, enrich the experience with team-created Halo content, and create opportunities for fans to connect with teams? How can we partner with platforms to provide opportunities for Halo content creators? There’s a lot in the works here and we’re excited to share details when the time is right.
  3. Halo Infinite: While the HCS team does not make the game, we do work closely with the development team and consult on ways to increase viewership, including features and tools for content creators. In the long term, we want to continue to invest in the growth of viewership via the game. We believe that enhancing the viewer experience will provide more opportunities for all content creators within the ecosystem.
  4. Rewards: We’ve been dipping our toes in the viewership rewards realm with the HCS Grassroots program, and while those activations have been relatively small in scale, they’ve been an important proving ground for us. For Halo Infinite, we are looking to increase the support and programming here. For now, we’ll have to play this one close to the chest, but we’ll share more leading up to launch.
  5. Content: With our renewed approach to Halo esports content, we also want to make a greater impact on the audience by highlighting compelling stories, players, teams, and moments within the scene. We want to turn casual viewers into serious fans, drawing the audience in with all the excitement, intensity, drama, and celebration that Halo esports has to offer. That includes storylines that span the season as well as within a single match. We want the audience invested in the scene, anticipating the next tournament, joining the conversation, and engaging with pro players, teams, and content
  6. Content Distribution: Finally, we believe that Halo esports content should reach as many fans as possible, and we've made the decision that official HCS tournaments and events will not be exclusive to any platform. While this is the decision we feel is best for our community right now, circumstances may change, and we will continue to assess new opportunities that can help us reach our goals. In addition to the significant amount of live, global content on official Halo channels, we will be launching a new dedicated Halo Esports YouTube channel, where we will post all the latest content, including VODs, featured content, and more.

CLOSING

Viewership is such a critical component of the ecosystem that we wanted to make sure we posted a blog dedicated to the topic. While today’s blog mainly covered our high-level approach and strategy, there are many finer details to share in the coming months nad beyond that will further paint the picture.

As always, we are interested to hear what folks think, so feel free to send any comments on Twitter as well.

Until next time,

Tashi

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