May 09 2017, by Alexandre Dreyfus
GPI & GPL 2.0: Embrace & Converge Esports and Poker
We’ve been very silent over the last few months while working behind the scenes to figure out where poker and gaming goes next. To be fair we haven’t shied completely away from the limelight – successfully running the 3rd Annual American Poker Awards earlier this year. We’ve also stayed on top of our day jobs, operating GPI & The Hendon Mob to full effect, both of which continue to grow year over year. But we’ve had our thinking caps on lately.
This year we’ll be celebrating our 5th anniversary as a company, an occasion that seems good as any other to reflect on the state of the poker market. I’ve personally been one of the biggest advocates of this industry – and this game as a whole – for years. I’ve allowed myself to become the type of crazy optimist that delves into wild initiatives like the GPL – Cube shaped arena and all – and HoldemX among others. We made it our mission to ‘Sportify Poker’ and thanks to some of our initiatives, I believe we’ve found an aspect of success in doing so. There will always be room to evolve poker and the ecosystem its created for itself, regardless of hurdles involved.
While I believe that the Live Poker market will not be significantly challenged over the next few years, I do fear that it will continue to stagnate from the perspective of any really “disruptive” innovation. It’s going to stay the same game, with the same products and the same distribution paths. In many ways this is fine – if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Online Poker, on the other hand, will be a different story as innovations, disruption and non “poker only” competitive offers become much more pervasive. (addition of video game/ mobile games elements into the player experience and the like). In a recent THM poll over 37% of responders agreed that Online Poker could be considered as being part of the greater video game industry.
We see trends towards both from within our own audience as well as the people we interact with in gaming and in the media industry, that digital competitive gaming is growing steadily while traditional online poker is facing a continued downturn. The newest generation of players simply don’t find online poker appealing as a product – it hasn’t changed in 15 years and from their perspective (especially when compared to real time strategy games like Hearthstone or etc.), isn’t nearly as much fun.
The video game industry is a $108 Billion market (bigger than the Film and Music industries combined) while Online Poker comes in at around $2 Billion. I always tried to avoid comparing Poker and Gambling, and I still believe that Poker (Live and Online) is a skill game and mind sport that shouldn’t necessarily be assimilated with the gambling product vertical.
Our team learned a lot during the last 5 years but especially in the last 3, while preparing the launch of Global Poker League and later when we actively began to bridge poker with esports. We may have been too shy; the thought now is that we need to be more disruptive and broaden our foundations.
Over the past 15 years with TheHendonMob, and the last 5 years with GPI, working with more than 1,400 tournaments organisers in 97 countries, and we’ve became one of the de facto authority in competitive live tournament poker results and player rankings. We believe now is the time to expand on our skillset as a team and play to our interests: adding in competitive games outside poker to ranking verticals under the GPI/ THM umbrella. We envision GPI transforming into the Gaming Player Index – the Competitive Gaming Ranking Authority – and it makes us excited. We’d serve the same role across games as we have done for poker, aggregating and ranking players across games. Crunching the numbers and offering a full image of the competitive landscape in each game.
We believe that in the long run this will help bridge player communities across games while also helping to grow the game of poker. We’ve seen so many similarities and so many converging paths between players from these communities that its only the natural way forward for us.
While poker as a very limited amount of ‘game publishers’ (if they can even be called that), the traditional video game industry and esports market has a much broader wealth of partners to work with, creating a healthy ecosystem to grow our initiatives.
On top of GPI, we also adjusting our plans for a broader GPL Season 2 to fit this strategy with additional partners. We believe that poker has so much to give to the gaming community and vice-versa, but we need to embrace it fully in order to realize the level of change and growth we envision.
Last but not least, with our Asian investors we are also very much committed to China and will have a full GPL China Press Conference the 31st of May in Beijing.
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