Interview With Intel Canada On VR and Esports
I was given the opportunity to attend Intel’s very first Intel Experience Day in Canada. Hosted in Toronto, Intel held a two day conference in order to showcase their breakthroughs in technology and gaming.
Aside from checking out the high-end gaming rigs, I sat down with Intel Canada’s Field Sales Engineer, Sami Saif, and Intel's Sales Manager for everything gaming, VR and AR, Hernan Quijano.
Intel has advanced the possible limits of gaming on both PCs and laptops in the last decade. Their support of esports has lead the company to host over 10 years of esports competitions in the form of the Intel Extreme Masters.
During our discussion, I was able to get the inside scoop on Intel’s perspective on VR experiences and competitive esports. Intel has done a lot for both the gaming and esports communities.
Steve: What is your role within Intel?
Sami: So I’m in the sales organization. I look after a lot of computing embedded accounts in the Toronto and southern Ontario area. So that’s my role –– sales!
Steve: Since the time you’ve begun working with Intel, how have you seen their focus on gaming and esports change?
Sami: You know what, it’s only increased. We spoke to Intel Extreme Masters is a perfect example of that. The investment, the engagement, and the scope of the Extreme Masters just keeps amplifying over, and over again.
So that’s one thing I would definitely point to. But the fact that I am sitting beside this gentleman *pats Hernan on the back* shows how much of a commitment in gaming Intel has.
We have folks like Hernan who's entire role is wrapped up in gaming and VR. Very few companies apply that kind of a resource and focus to the segment. At Intel, we don’t like to follow. We like to lead and we like to drive.
Hernan: To that point, I have been a gamer my whole life. I was at Intel before we were putting all that wood under the fire like we are doing now. I have always wanted to have that in the market. The more resources we put on gaming, the more we see it grow. Something like Intel Extreme Masters –– we have been doing that for 12 seasons and now you go to that event and you see how this has become a real thing.
Now you get more online viewers than some professional sports. Certain people say “Wait a second, you’re watching other people play games?” and I say “What do you do every Saturday? You sit on your couch and watch baseball or football.” Esports is the same.
Esports has players watching the professionals so they can become better. They want to get the techniques so they can become better.
The more we put that into the market. The better it is for the industry and more people are able to share what they are doing. When more people share their experiences, it becomes a snowball.
Sami: I was going to say, this keeps growing. It’s just building and building. I’m going to selfishly attribute that in part to the commitment in gaming Intel has. It is a growth engine for us.
Steve: Intel has been very focused on the main pillars of esports (CS:GO and Hearthstone). Are there any other title that you know of that Intel has been keeping an eye on in regards to the IEM?
Hernan: We have had different titles in the IEM. In the past, we have had League of Legends, and PUBG. There are games that we call classics like Starcraft II, and Counter-Strike. But for PUBG we do experiences. You need 100 players to play it. We set up tables of four and had 20 teams to make 80 players and took half a stadium just so we could do professional PUBG. We are always looking to find whatever is growing.
Steve: What does that process of bringing on a new title look like?
Hernan: It depends. There are developers that have their own plans for their games. It is a balance between what is popular and how willing developers are to be a part of [IEM]. Of course, we have the biggest esports event. It is not only one event, it is a series of events. It is a good place for any IP to be and we try to show value. It is an open discussion.
It’s not that we’re saying the next 10 years are going to be the same titles. But there are games that you know are never going to get old. Like how old is Starcraft II?
Steve: VR is an ever-evolving piece of tech, what kind of roadmap does Intel have for VR and AR in the next few years?
Sami: I think for us it is very fluid. I would argue that job #1 for us is awareness. Creating excitement around the broader category. One of the things we really love to talk about is gaming in parallel with creators. That is one piece of the market that is emerging. We want to focus our efforts to stimulate creators. Getting to them to think of themselves as a distinct category.
For us, that is the focus going forward. That is not to say we are parking gaming. This is an additive strategy.
Hernan: VR, when you think about it is a game. You are running it on a game engine. When you are in 3D world you are in a very high-end game. You have two high-resolution screens in your eyes, and you need a high-frame-rate so you don’t get sick. When you have a bad performance, you have a problem. Your brain does not think in frames-per-second. You want a fluid experience with everything synchronized.
You also have to consider creating. We were talking about the X-series. Game development and VR creation is a part of that. You need to be able to run your Unreal and Unity engines to put your worlds together for VR.
You need to be able to hit a button and build your world and start playing. You don’t want to be the guy with a little computer and have to wait five minutes. No creative brain will tolerate that. You want to be able to try something and see the outcome. It’s creation and consumption.
Sami: We’re also trying to drive preference and understanding. Core i7 on the mobile side and the H-series is the platform of choice that enables these experiences and brings them to life.
Hernan: That’s a very good point. We have taken our processors to work with partners like MSI and HP to build backpacks. Imagine a super high-end notebook without a screen or keyboard, but with straps, so you can wear it. That way your whole computer is in your bag. You have your experience but you are not tethered to any system.
One of the solutions we have developed that is in the market is the wireless connection between your headset and the computer. Using Intel WiGig technology, you can have a data connection while you are free. You can drive all that power from a desktop system, gaining all the performance you want but you are free. You need the software and system to be healthy.
Because VR is undiscovered territory, there are people experimenting how to navigate a VR world. Every time someone creates a new game, that will add new popularity. There is a whole ecosystem.
Steve: What is the most exciting part of the show floor this year?
Hernan: The island in the middle with all the games. *laughs*
Thank you to Sami Saif and Hernan Quijano for speaking with me during Intel Experience Day.