Linksys was the exclusive networking partner for PAX Australia.
We got the chance to take a break from the show floor and catch up with Linksys global product manager Vince La Duca and country manager of Linksys ANZ Greg Morrison to find out exactly what’s involved in setting everything up, and how the Australian gaming scene compares to that of the rest of the world.
How do you go about actually setting up the network?
Greg Morrison: “Obviously we worked very closely with PAX and ReedPOP who pull it together. They identify what the size and scale is of what we need to deliver, and then from the back end we sit down and we look at it from an engineering perspective; what products will we need to facilitate that? The good thing about it is the technology we have from an SMB (Server Message Block) perspective can handle any scale. We’ve got a range of switches on the show floor, and some access points as well. It just comes down to the size and the volume that we’re required to deliver, and matching the right products up to it. It’s been in the works for a few months now, but the most amazing thing is that the guys came and set it up within a few hours in the morning. It’s the actual connection of the switches that’s the fastest part; the work that goes into the back end to make it simple to set up means it works out well.”
What kind of bandwidth are you looking at?
GM: “I don’t have the details on the bandwidth. I can tell you though that one of the reasons that this location has been selected is that it actually has one of the best bandwidth facilities in Australia. Obviously how large the venue is helps too, but that’s one of the reasons they choose to have it here instead of Sydney or anywhere else.”
“Esports is really becoming like football.”
What happens if something goes wrong?
GM: “We sponsored the event a couple of years ago. I wasn’t down here for it, and I didn’t sleep that whole weekend, but no phone calls came through. It was seamless. They’ve got a very good team down there running the network and constantly monitoring it. We’ve got the equipment and confidence that it will deliver, and obviously spare equipment ready to go if something does go wrong.”
Why sponsor the PC Freeplay and Console Freeplay areas specifically?
GM: “We looked at the event and went okay, we want to get to the heart of this – which we worked out to be the freeplay section. I think there are around a couple hundred PCs linked up to each other. I thought if we were going to put our product through its paces and really show that Linksys are the superior brand then that would be the way to do it. It’s pretty gutsy because if something does go wrong then there are a couple thousand gamers out there that’d come straight for us. They’ve used some of our access points to provide WiFi in the hall, too. The risk that we do run with that is that it can fall down to a bandwidth problem, so if you’re supplying the network equipment for the entire building and someone isn’t having a good wireless experience, it could just be the entry point. This is a great facility for it. We just thought we’d dedicate ourselves to the freeplay sections, especially with JB Hi-Fi being a key launch partner for us with the new WRT32X routers.”
Finally, how does the Australian gaming scene differ from what you’ve seen of the rest of the world?
Vince La Duca: “For me, you see that common thread throughout the world – you mentioned it earlier, how everyone knows each other by their Gamertag. It’s so amazing to be able to see people meeting each other for the first time after having spoken to them online for so long. It’s wonderful for people to be able to share that passion for online gaming with each other. The other common thing is the explosion of esports on a global scale. We just did a launch event for the new routers; they have these cultural revitalisation areas where they have these old apartment blocks getting mowed down, and they’re making these cool creative zones, and in there they’re making these tournament facilities with broadcasting stations above it. When I was at Gamescom I was approached by a number of people who are opening these facilities, and they’re like internet cafes blown out to become more like arenas.
We did the launch in China – which is the largest community market in the world right now – I hopped over to Bangkok to an IT mall where it’s all gaming computers; there aren’t normal computers anymore, it’s all about gaming PCs and building them. Of course, the ground floor is an esports arena. It’s becoming this amazing global phenomenon, and I think that’s what’s really given the fuel to the online community – it’s become competitive, and people are starting to facilitate that competitive aspect. Just last week we announced our sponsorship of the University of California Irvine’s esports program. We didn’t want to go straight out and sponsor a big team like Liquid – we wanted to do something more grassroots, and more hometown, especially because our labs are in Irvine and part of the UCI campus. It’s really cool that we have this relationship with the university. Esports is really becoming like football.”