How Important Is Production Value In Esports?

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When it comes to major esports events, it’s all about putting on the best show in town. To do this, you need quality production, the perfect combination of staging, lights, audio, livestreams and much more, so that the players’ performances can truly shine.

This is where a company like Waveform Entertainment thrives.

Salil Gupta is the co-founder and chief technology officer of Waveform Entertainment, a company established in 2018 that deals in the production and branding for esports events. Waveform has worked with companies such as Ubisoft, Cineplex and Red Bull, as well as working large events such as EVO, TwitchCon and many, many more. The odds are growing that if you watch a major esports event, Waveform has a hand in producing it.

Salil has been involved in the competitive gaming scene for years, beginning by casting StarCraft tournament matches from his bedroom before branching out into streaming, media and stage production. With a background in theatre, Salil understands just how much work needs to be put in for a show or event to be a knockout success for both in-person attendees and those watching a broadcast from home.

And it’s shown with the success of Waveform, who can be working on 5-7 shows a week during peak seasons. The key, according to Salil, is doing the absolute best to suit each clients’ needs.

“We try to do right by everyone. If we understand a client’s budget is not that good, we just do the best we can within that.” says Salil. While Waveform is constantly upping their production values and creating innovative technology, it’s only brought up to those who can afford it, and more importantly, those who would really benefit from it. 

“We don’t push people for money for things they don’t need.”

This approach has solidified Waveform’s reputation as both a high-quality and reliable production company. It’s a boon for a group that focuses on the behind-the-scenes work that doesn’t get as much open recognition.

“Waveform, we don’t have an external brand. We don’t sell “Waveform” we only do white label stuff.” Salil explains. A combination of networking and referrals, on top of their production quality, allows them to expand their clientele. Having done work for groups such as EvenMatchupGaming, VGBootCamp and more also serves as a great calling card. 

“It’s helpful to say ‘Hey, here’s this brand that exists and has this many followers and subscribers.” 

Logo for Waveform Entertainment

When it comes to taking a production from good to great, the devil is in the details, and sometimes the details come with red tape. Waveform’s deep roots with the Super Smash Bros. competitive scenes allow them more autonomy with their events to introduce and experiment with graphics, transitions, audio and visuals. When working with other companies, games or events, however, the process is not always as simple.

“At the Mortal Kombat event this year [Final Kombat 2020] we created software that would read the game feed and then provide, in real time, how much health someone had, whether they had Fatal Blow and how many rounds they had won.” 

Salil goes on to explain how this information was integrated into the LCD screens in the venue, how the health bars in game would show up on the respective players’ desks, and how a round’s winner would have their picture lit up in a brighter, happier way while the round’s loser would be grey-scaled for seven seconds. 

This sophisticated piece of technology took around five months to create and it almost didn’t get used at all; growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus led to no spectators at the event and Waveform had to negotiate with the Warner Bros. events team to convince them that the software was worth the time and money to implement at this event. Waveform indeed got to use it at Final Kombat 2020 and were able to capture its effects on stream, where it was very well-received.

These small details take a lot of work, both to create and to get approved, but they truly make the difference when looking at the totality of the highest quality esports event; whether it’s the Mortal Kombat software or introducing stage-striking technology in Super Smash Bros., they heighten the production quality while also providing information that further connects the audience and spectators with the game they are watching. If any particular game is to grow as an esport, these factors will be key in making competitive video games more accessible to a casual audience.

And it’s no secret that major companies who aren’t traditionally involved in esports are trying to get in on this ever-growing industry, and Waveform is there to help connect these groups with the esports demographic…although not without its own set of struggles.

“Cineplex was trying to do gaming stuff. They did an Uncharted event which people entered, but that wasn’t really a true esports experience.” Salil recalls. “So one of our starting points was suggesting trying Call of Duty or Rocket League instead.” 

Waveform’s branding and consultation services aim to help these big companies use their resources in the most effective way by connecting them with the right people and communities in the esports sphere. These types of services are essential for connecting large brands and corporations with competitive gaming, further growing the potential audience.

The future looks bright for Salil and the Waveform team; while the coronavirus pandemic has cancelled events for the foreseeable future, they can still offer their streaming and consultation services, and when events start popping up again, you’ll know who’s working the big ones.

You can listen to the full interview with Salil Gupta here.

Be sure to check out Waveform as well as follow Salil Gupta on Twitter!