The U.K. government has given its official support to the esports industry with the establishment of the British eSports Association (BEA).
The BEA will act as the national governing body for U.K. esports competitions and report to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The announcement states that the BEA will:
- Work in conjunction with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to help and represent players at all levels;
- Develop a grassroots competitive video game scene that will nurture future talent;
- Support existing professionals and provide the infrastructure to create future British global champions.
A national esports training center will be built at Pinewood
The organization will be based at Pinewood Studios, well known as being the film studio base for the production of the 007 James Bond movies. The BEA aims to build a National Training Center for esports at Pinewood.
Pinewood Studios Head of Business Development, Jules Robinson commented:
“The establishment of the British eSports Association is an important initiative in furthering the credibility of the eSports industry in the UK. Pinewood is excited to be part of this National Governing Body for eSports and is aiming to have a new National Training Centre for eSports to help with grassroots and future British Champions.”
The BEA will be headed by gaming professionals
The BEA itself is a “not for profit” organization which will be headed by Andy Payne OBE, with Chester King in the role of acting CEO.
Andy Payne has been involved in the computer and video games industry for 30 years. He founded The Producers in 1988, a company specializing in games production and flight simulation. In 2009, he founded independent digital games distribution platform Get Games.
Payne was enthusiastic about his new role:
“I am an admirer of the work of other sports associations such as British Cycling, and I am very confident that if we welcome and embrace all parties in the UK eSports scene, we can deliver a range of benefits to all players, from professional to amateur in the UK over time. These are exciting times in eSports and the time is right to build this organisation from the grassroots up.”
Chester King is the CEO of the International eGames Group which was created to “manage the commercial and sponsorship rights on behalf of the International eGames Committee (IEGC).”
Task one is to work out what to do
The BEA has a website at www.BritisheSports.org. The home page is currently asking all interested parties to provide advice on what the organization should do.
“As a brand new national governing body, the British eSports Association would like your input to help shape our future – and the future of UK eSports.
We want to know what you’d like to see from us, and what can be done to grow eSports in the UK.
Everyone is welcome to send us ideas. Whether you’re a player, fan, someone from the eSports or games industry or anyone else, we’d like to hear from you.”
Replies are requested by September 30, and the BEA has given itself three months of consultation “during which British eSports will be gathering feedback from the UK eSports sector to ensure it fully represents the interests of individuals, teams, game publishers and broadcasters alike.”
Not the first to the party, but timely nonetheless
The U.K. is one of the world’s largest esports markets, and will in time become one of the largest markets for esports betting. Backed by the DCMS, the BEA is in a position to make a major contribution to the development of the esports industry.
The Korea e-Sports Association (KeSPA) was founded in 2000, supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. It may look like the U.K. is sixteen years late to the party, but this would be an unfair criticism.
The esports industry has grown extremely quickly, but it is now at the stage where national governing bodies are becoming a more important factor in its future development.
Common standards of discipline, codes of practice against match fixing and the development of the necessary trust that stimulates esports betting are all becoming increasingly relevant.
At the end of April France launched its own national governing body, France Esports. The U.K. may have voted for Brexit, but in terms of the timing of government promotion of esports, it remains in lockstep with its European neighbors.