The City of Edmonton is working to bring more Esports events to the region but local gamers say they haven’t been consulted on how to do that.
In 2023, the city worked with Explore Edmonton, Edmonton Global and the Edmonton Screen Industries Office to develop an Esports strategy.
It wants to bid to host large, high-profile, international events.
Edmonton Global estimates the Esports industry provides a $9 billion economic opportunity.
“We’re trying to do a lot more work in Asia and that, right now, is where Esports are gigantic,” Chris McLeod with Edmonton Global said.
“So for us it’s a bit of a tool to raise awareness about the opportunities here, especially in tech and AI.”
The Alberta Esports Expo was held in Edmonton in February 2023.
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It’s estimated that event created more than $1.4 million of economic impact for the City of Edmonton.
There were more than 500 competitors who participated.
Game Con Canada will take place at the Edmonton Expo Centre from 2024 through 2026. It bills itself as the largest gaming expo in Canada.
“The unique challenges within Esports is that we lie in a place between sports and technology and we’re often left to be included strictly in technology,” said Madison Côté with the Alberta Esports Association.
On Wednesday, Côté told city council’s executive committee that the events the city is looking to attract are too generic and not dedicated Esports tournaments.
She said the city should instead focus on promoting local, grassroots events with the potential to grow.
Côté also said grants need to be expanded as right now they are more directed to the film and television industry.
“Gamers and people who are doing Esports as a career know what people like, what people want to see and how to make it very entertaining,” gamer Josh Byrne told Global News.
Byrne, who goes by the handle @Comp, has more than 13,000 hours playing the game Rocket League.
He makes a living streaming, coaching others and playing in Esports tournaments. On Wednesday, he signed a professional Esports contract.
“It’s grown a lot, especially after COVID,” Byrne said.
“More and more people are getting out there. A lot more streaming services are coming out.”
Councillors agree that gamers need to be more actively involved in growing the industry in Edmonton.
They’ve asked administration to connect with the community to brainstorm how to make the strategy successful.
“The sky could be the limit in this,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi told media.
“But let’s explore, let’s engage with young people who are leading the charge on Esports.”
© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.