With the rise of esports and the lucrative culture around both social and competitive streaming right now, it has never been a better time to be a gamer. What was once decreed as a hobby among outsiders has evolved into so much more, whether you’re doing it casually or with your eyes on a prize. Australia’s leading esports team, ORDER, are uniquely positioned to give us the lowdown on gaming in Australia, so we caught up with them to find out more. Having recently announced the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Ultimate Jam tournament in partnership with Activision, 7plus, and Fuel TV, CEO Marc Edwards filled us in on what it means to be on an esports team, the Tony Hawk competition, and what’s next for the industry.
If someone stared at you with a blank face and asked what ORDER was, what would you say to them?
We’re a gaming organisation that is fostering creativity across esports, casual gaming, music, and fashion. That’s really what we’re doing. So we have a whole lot of professional esports players across multiple titles, and we play multiple titles because each sport or each game title has a different audience, so we want to make sure that we have a full cross-section of different audiences in that space. We are a high-performance team when we play sports, but we’re also an organisation that understands the importance of having that connection to the community—having fun at the end of the day, connecting like-minded people. People game because they want to withdraw. They want to connect with like-minded people, but also do it in a way that they can kind of forget about the outside world. It’s like reading a book or watching a movie, gaming is that emotional connection to something. So we have both high performance – we win now, it’s really important that we win, we don’t compete just to compete – but we also have fun and we connect to the community through our casual gaming pursuits as well.
How do you choose your players?
A professional gamer is chosen through performance in tournaments. In pretty much most tournaments across any title, they have what they call open qualifiers. So players can enter those tournaments, and if they’re good enough, they continue through the ranks. And then that becomes noticed, we have both coaches and scouts. Esports scouts look at a multitude of titles, they do that in any traditional sport and identify the talented people, but you can also do here what they call queuing. So you can play, whether it be team games or individual games, by queuing with other gamers. And again, our scouts watch those games and identify talent coming through. It’s a pretty close-knit community. And when someone starts to perform at a level, people start to talk about it. Very rarely would you find someone that is playing at a super high level without easily identifying them.
Got it! I wanted to talk a bit about the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Ultimate Jam tournament. It’s not an overly competitive title, so how did this tournament come about for you?
We love how Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater recreates the real-world skate culture, but with digital entertainment. And it was that real merging of two different audiences that really started to excite us, but it also complemented our brand values and vision for expansion. Our brand values very much sit around fostering creativity in terms of content creation, music and fashion, so skating really fits perfectly into that. We also talk a lot about Gen Z and that being the primary gaming audience, so that’s the 18 to 25-year-olds, but what we’ve found is that casual gaming also has a significant audience now, particularly now that it is growing so fast, there’s a big audience in that 25 to sort of 45-year-old age group. And again, the Tony Hawk franchise fits perfectly into that. So for us, it was tapping into what is a super loyal and passionate audience, but also aligning to our desire to grow and our brand values.
What do you want to achieve out of the tournament?
Brand awareness, 100%. A big part of our business is production as well. We produce online events across different titles, so we want to be able to show our wares in terms of our ability to produce those online tournaments, but also drive continual brand awareness for ORDER not just as an esports team, but as a gaming organisation that fosters creativity and connects with the gaming audience. It’s one thing to be aware, but we want people to continuously engage with us. Is it going to be pushing for players? I don’t think the Tony Hawk franchise will ever be an esport and it’s not positioned to be an esport, but we’d love to find some streamers or people that produce content on YouTube that want to become a part of the organisation and want to get involved.
You’re hitting on that social aspect, and you obviously have big plans for ORDER. What do you still want to do, especially in terms of collaboration with the music industry?
“Collaboration” is the perfect word – gaming links to music in so many different ways. There’s EDM, there’s hip hop, even beatboxing, there are so many different genres of music that actually fit into gaming. But also, people in music game, people who game listen to music, there are so many really nice crossovers, and we want to be able to tap into the music industry from a structure, talent, and collaboration point of view. How do we provide access to a gaming audience for musicians, and how then do musicians provide us with access to their audience? How do you collaborate to create a really authentic output that appeals to both of our audiences moving forward? Again, it’s that creative side to our business that we really want to grow in.