Our Summer 2021 Asteroid Arena! Update ~
It’s Susan Beaver Thompson, CMO of Changing Vegas LLC ~ Every 2 to 3 months, I’ll be updating you on our journey to create and launch Asteroid Arena!, the Official ESport of Las Vegas. Here we go!
Pleased to report… We’re riding the wave!
In 2020, due to Covid19 pandemic lockdowns, 82% of all global consumers played video games and/or streamed video game and ESports content, many for the first time (Nielsen). In terms of size, the video gaming industry is now bigger than Hollywood (Skillz). It’s definitely become mainstream news, as have the investments made in video gaming and esports companies.
Spurring Economic Growth Through Video Gaming and ESports
According to VentureBeat, “VC gaming funds remain very active in the first half of 2021, with the top-15 VC funds injecting approximately $1.1B into 60+ companies. BITKRAFT continues to top the chart (leading Resolution Games, Anzu, and Pocket Worlds deals, among others), followed by Makers Fund and Index Ventures.”
This is awesome news for indie game developers like us.
In our quest to create Asteroid Arena!, and grab some of those investment dollars, we’ve been strengthening: 1) our game, 2) our Proof of Concept, and 3) our connections and visibility within the Las Vegas tech, startup, gaming, and ESports business communities.
Prioritizing Community Building From Day 1
Today, a big part of launching and growing any successful indie video game is community-building, that is, listening to and involving players in improving the game, from the very start. That’s what we’re doing with Asteroid Arena! It’s currently a board game; we’re building it into a video game and app – using Las Vegas talent.
After initial play testing in Las Vegas during Spring and early Summer, Dave Thompson, our CEO and the game’s designer, has created Asteroid Arena!, Version 2.0. And, after meeting with Dr. Robert Rippee, the Executive Director of the Black Fire Innovation Hub at UNLV, we’re pleased to announce that we’ll be playtesting Asteroid Arena! 2.0 with the UNLV ESports Team this Fall.
We’ll find out which of the eight alien factions the Esports team members like best, and what they suggest changing to make our chaotic, 4-player, free-for-all CCG even more competitive and fun. We’ll be further solidifying our Proof of Concept by working with UNLV to catalogue, analyze, and apply the playtesting data. This is a major step for us.
Positioning Your StartUp in Your Local Area
When you’re looking at launching a business that will help build up your city – and contribute to job and economic development – I suggest you take the time to meet with city, county, and state startup professionals. Explore how they can assist you, and what you can bring to the table.
Don’t be shy about reaching out to possible partners early on to introduce them to your startup and talk about ways to collaborate and share resources. Their suggestions (and connections) can be invaluable in helping you become a vibrant member of the entrepreneurial scene in your area.
In our case, the City of Las Vegas has publicly stated that they want to make Las Vegas the “ESports Capital of the World.” The growth of the ESports industry is part of Las Vegas’ recovery strategy after the lockdown. In launching Asteroid Arena!, we have the same goal. In positioning ourselves as the Official ESport of Las Vegas, our first order of business was to meet with the Economic Development staff at the City of Las Vegas on June 4.
A BIG thank you to Elizabeth Lopez at the City of Las Vegas, along with Logan Brown at StartUpNV.com, for their guidance. (After meeting with Elizabeth about Asteroid Arena! and playing the game with her, she referred us to Jamie Schwartz.)
Jamie Schwartz is the Director of Business and Industry Engagement at UNLV Office of Economic Development located at the Black Fire Innovation Center. Jamie has been an early cheerleader for Changing Vegas and we’re so grateful for her insights and encouragement. Now, we’re working to refine our financial statements with her coworker, Albert Delgalgo, a SBDC counselor at the Black Fire Innovation Center.
Creating Visibility: Starting To Stand Out in the Crowd
Lessons Learned: My biggest piece of business development advice is this: Go do what you love, and get involved in the activities that inspire you. It’s the best way to meet wonderful, like-minded professionals and friends. This is the priceless reward – and joy – of strategic networking.
In fact, a number of the Las Vegas entrepreneurial events that Elizabeth and Jamie recommended to us have become part of our “tribe” to help develop Asteroid Arena!, one step at a time.
Two of the Las Vegas business communities we’ve benefited from and now contribute to include:
Tech Alley MeetUp – Third Saturday of each month in the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District, 10 AM to 4:00 PM. The technology and startup communities get together to network, and learn about new possibilities for their business. Joshua Leavitt is instrumental in organizing and promoting this event.
At the July Tech Alley event, our CEO, Dave Thompson, got the opportunity to be interviewed by Jake Gallen, Host of The Guest List podcast. Dave talked about the need for innovation in creating new games for Las Vegas to attract younger generations, and how skill-based games are the future of ESports and gaming. Listen to the interview here.
Las Vegas Cryptocurency MeetUp Group – Last Tuesday of each month at the Black Fire Innovation Center, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM.
This Group provides a platform to share how Las Vegas business owners are incorporating cryptocurrency, DiFi, NFTs, and other blockchain advances in building their companies. Jake Gallen is also instrumental in organizing and promoting this event.
On July 30, we appeared on The Hive Twitch channel to talk about Asteroid Arena! and the Future of Las Vegas Esports, as well as #diversity in ESports. The Hive is sponsored by ESports College and Career Pathways in Southern California. Thank you to hosts Alykat and Terrencem_hs!
Branding, Marketing and Artwork: Taking Our Next Steps
In July, we also developed the branding for Asteroid Arena! by working with Steve Goebel from Toeshark Visual Communications, a top Las Vegas marketing agency. After a series of comps and tweaks, we’re proud of our new Asteroid Arena! logo. We’ll continue our work with Toeshark by creating a Media Kit and announcement materials.
Of course, creating exceptional digital art for Asteroid Arena! is very important to the success of the game, too. When players love the artwork, gameplay, and flavor, they love the game. This summer, we’re starting to commission original digital sci-fi art for the game. Las Vegas artist Jay O’Leary (Toofie) is creating art for The Gloops, the first of 8 alien factions in Asteroid Arena! Each faction will be created using a different art style.
Here’s a time lapse video of Toofie’s artistic process. (We’ll also be creating NFTs as part of funding and launching the game.)
To learn more about the art, watch for our new video + blog series, “The Artists Behind the Aliens”.
This week, August 14-15, we’ll be heading to the Gameacon Esports Event in Rancho Mirage, California, where we will debut our updated Asteroid Arena! board game (Version 2.0) in Booth #110. You can find more details here.
In the next few months, I look forward to updating you on our Fall marketing activities. If you have suggestions for us, or would like to collaborate in developing Asteroid Arena!, reach out to us at: changingvegas1 – at – gmail.com.
To learn more about Asteroid Arena! and follow our journey, subscribe on our Changing Vegas YouTube.