Mobile esports continue to grow thanks to its massive audience. The latest esports organization to jump head-first into the mobile craze is Immortals, based out of Los Angeles. But this is no ordinary entry into the space. They’re launching an entirely new division dedicated strictly to mobile esports called “Immortals Mobile.” Arena of Valor, published by Tencent, will be the first game that Immortals CEO Noah Whinston and company build a roster for under the new banner.
“Mobile games represent the fastest growing segment of the gaming industry, and mobile esports are poised to benefit from that explosive growth,” said Whinston in a March 15 press release. “Today’s announcement is another significant milestone for Immortals, and we are very excited to work with one of the industry’s top mobile game publishers in Tencent to deliver phenomenal mobile gaming experiences to our fans.”
The new Immortals team will hit the ground running, with their sights on a cut of the $500,000 prize pool from the Arena of Valor World Cup scheduled for July of this year. MOBA legend Assassin Dave will be the captain of the team at its inception, and mobile esports veteran Jeff Chau (Apple, Hollywood Hammers, Team Liquid) has been hired as the GM of Immortals Mobile.
“I’m incredibly excited to work with Immortals to extend the organization’s mission into the fast-growing mobile esports space,” said Chau. “Mobile offers a tremendous opportunity for Immortals to connect with the largest player base in the world and jump on board a rocket ship that shows no signs of slowing. I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to help build Immortals’ mobile legacy from the ground up.”
What’s particularly interesting about the growing mobile scene is that its fans actively look for strong social communities within their favorite competitive titles.
“Social [engagement] and building a thriving community are especially more acute regarding mobile gamers, ” said Chau. “Per Facebook, across 12 major countries, mobile gamers are 2.7-times more likely to stay in-game for a sense of community and belonging, and 2-times more likely to stay in-game for social connections. This is why Arena of Valor is so important. Tencent understands this ecosystem, and they have created a massive viewership base in China and South East Asia due to making the game more social with not only fun in-game multiplayer modes, but being able to locate nearby players and connect with them. Without the social stickiness, mobile games come and go quickly as is the nature and attention span of mobile gaming; however, esports-ready multiplayer titles like Arena of Valor are looking to change that.”
When asked if Immortals are looking to branch into other mobile games at this time, Chau said that they are actively looking for titles, but certain criteria must be met such as size of player base, potential growth of the title, great publishers as key partners, and longevity of the title. Immortals has always been very forward-thinking when it comes to building their teams and brand, which is one of the big keys to their success across the esports landscape. However, they still have a hurdle to climb in regards to converting the casual audience to esports fans, and existing esports fans into mobile fans.
“Mobile gaming is indeed huge, for example, in metrics like player base and revenues,” said Chau. “However, the challenge now is to convert that to massive viewership. That’s where Immortals Mobile comes in. We plan to compete and support huge mobile titles and partner closely with the publishers, such as Tencent in our first title, Arena of Valor.”
Immortals already has experience working with publishers, of course. Many doubted Blizzard’s ability to maintain healthy viewer numbers for Overwatch League, but they’ve blown all expectations out of the water with help from its 12 teams, including the Los Angeles Valiant – owned by Immortals. If mobile publishers are looking for quality organizations such as Immortals to help put mobile esports in a more visible space, that could be huge for the industry and for the teams involved.
We’ll know more about Immortals Mobile and their Arena of Valor team in the coming weeks.