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Inside DreamHack’s ambitious strategy to double its audience


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DreamHack has all the time been an outlier in comparison with different gaming conventions and esports tournaments. At its core, DreamHack is a grassroots conference that scaled. The competition began in 1994 as a LAN occasion in a faculty cafeteria in Sweden. Over time, it expanded to incorporate esports, music and different gaming-adjacent communities.

This “massive tent” ethos has caught with the corporate by way of two acquisitions — first by ESL Gaming’s dad or mum firm after which by Savvy Video games Group in 2022. Not like its ESL Faceit Group (EFG) sister manufacturers which deal with firmly on esports, DreamHack serves the intersection between esports and the broader gaming neighborhood. Flush with money, DreamHack and its management has formidable plans to develop the competition’s viewers.

DreamHack’s ‘Massive Tent’ technique

DreamHack’s one-of-a-kind components blends esports tournaments with a consumer-facing conference. Final weekend, DreamHack San Diego (DHSD) hosted esports tournaments — each skilled and grassroots — in quite a lot of video games alongside exhibitors, manufacturers and artists on the present ground.

DreamHack’s signature BYOC space

DreamHack additionally understands that it will probably faucet into adjoining communities to convey extra followers into the fold. DreamHack preserves its LAN occasion roots by way of the BYOC — Deliver Your Personal Pc — part of its occasions. Equally, Magic: the Gathering tournaments are additionally welcomed beneath the umbrella.


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Constructing on esports, DreamHack San Diego can be leveraging gaming personalities and creators. The occasion featured a King of the Hill activation the place followers may compete straight in opposition to execs. Equally, DreamHack had a Stream Studio for creators and invited personalities Jake Fortunate and HUN2R to create content material from the present ground.

“Followers are what make esports run. DreamHack supported our imaginative and prescient of speaking to them and telling their tales,” HUN2R advised GamesBeat.

Furthermore, DreamHack tapped into the crossover between gaming and leisure. DHSD hosted meet and greets with iconic voice actors and a screening of the Tremendous Mario Bros. Film throughout opening weekend. The occasion additionally featured a live performance with Set It Off, Metropolis of Sound and Scene Queen enjoying on the principle stage.

Uniquely positioned

“There are not any direct opponents to DreamHack that supply all the content material that we do,” Shahin Zarrabi, DreamHack’s VP of technique & development, advised GamesBeat in an interview. Following each COVID and the acquisition by Savvy, the corporate noticed a chance to develop this viewers much more. “Beforehand we had been owned by a publicly traded firm and that made you look quarter to quarter. Now we will look extra long-term,” Zarrabi added. 

With each a long run technique and long run funding, DreamHack can experiment with methods develop gaming tradition and its viewers. Every occasion is a big scale experiment the place the corporate can cater to the distinctive pursuits of followers in every of its host cities.

DreamHack host fighting game tournament in San Diego
Combating Video games at DreamHack San Diego

“The way forward for DreamHack is tapping into the local people. After we’re in San Diego, the main focus is on gaming adjoining communities. For Atlanta, it’s extra centered on the preventing recreation neighborhood. In the meantime, Dallas is all about core esports,” defined Zarrabi. “We offer the framework after which every market fills it up with their native taste.”

San Diego was additionally a really perfect alternative to succeed in out to main companions along with the native followers. Psyonix — the developer of Rocket League — selected to host the RLCS’ Winter Split Major at DreamHack. Moreover, Qualcomm — the producer of Snapdragon chips and the title sponsor of the Snapdragon Professional Sequence — can be based mostly within the metropolis. About 110 of the corporate’s executives attended the occasion to be taught extra concerning the neighborhood.

Lotus Gaming celebrates their Snapdragon Professional Sequence Win

“DreamHack is an superior alternative to humanize esports for our colleagues that don’t come from a gaming background. It’s invaluable to see the true influence you’re having on a neighborhood firsthand — you’ll be able to’t seize that in a presentation,” stated Matthew Grossman, Qualcomm’s supervisor of product advertising and marketing for gaming and esports.

Unlocking new income streams

With its “massive tent” format, DreamHack has unlocked a singular path to monetization. The occasion can use the monetization methods of each conventional commerce exhibits — promoting ground house to exhibitors and tickets to attendees — and esports content material — partnering with manufacturers for broadcast partnerships.

“DreamHack has extra income potential than a standard commerce present by way of model partnerships and by integrating esports,” stated Craig Levine, co-CEO of ESL Faceit Group, in an interview. “Scale issues. By bringing collectively all of those totally different communities and video games, we attain a significant viewers. It lets us signal greater offers and ship nice outcomes to our companions.”

Moreover, esports tournaments hosted by DreamHack are usually funded by way of every writer’s esports program, reducing the associated fee burden in comparison with a extra commonplace esports occasion. DreamHack pitches itself as a price range pleasant alternative to faucet into the competition’s crossover tradition and introduce video games to its attendees.

Arcade video games and types dwell aspect by aspect at DreamHack San Diego

In the end, all of DreamHack’s monetization alternatives are enhanced by rising the neighborhood. The occasion organizer went into overdrive to develop its in-person attendance for San Diego. Along with an inexpensive value level — day passes bought for as little as $35 — the occasion additionally reached out to households and navy service members.

The competition gave away over $1 million value of tickets to native faculties. In the meantime, DreamHack additionally bought household passes that allowed mother and father to convey youngsters beneath 13 to the occasion at a reduction. Equally, DreamHack provided ticket reductions to members of the navy. San Diego is house to over 115,000 active duty service members.

These efforts labored — DHSD set a brand new document for its U.S. festivals with over 41,000 attendees. However ESL Faceit Group has extra formidable objectives.

“We wish 100,000, 200,000 attendees and also you do this by creating extra cultural momentum behind it,” Levine stated. “I believe DreamHack is probably the most thrilling alternative that we now have within the EFG household due to how expansive the idea could be.”

GamesBeat’s creed when protecting the sport trade is “the place ardour meets enterprise.” What does this imply? We need to inform you how the information issues to you — not simply as a decision-maker at a recreation studio, but in addition as a fan of video games. Whether or not you learn our articles, hearken to our podcasts, or watch our movies, GamesBeat will allow you to be taught concerning the trade and revel in partaking with it. Uncover our Briefings.

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