Trevor Midway Schmidt Interviewed
INSIDER ESPORTS - Michael Fleming talks with Trevor "Midway" Schmidt, creator of GotFrag.com, about a wide range of topics, including the economy, eSports, GotFrag, and more.
There are few times where I feel honored to talk to some one, but Trevor Schmidt is certainly one of those people. I could be wrong, but I think it is because I am trying to do what he did all the way back in 2002. If not that, he is a pioneer of Esports and many call him one of the "founding fathers" of competitive gaming. Without him we would likely not be where we are today. On October 20, 2008, GotFrag officially announced Schmidt's departure, but gave little reason as to why other than "to move on to other things". I contacted Midway about two weeks ago to talk about different things in eSports, including his time at GotFrag, why he left, and his views on eSports today.
What have you been doing since you left GotFrag?
Since [I left] GotFrag, I have most importantly been catching up with friends and family. Like I said, I started GotFrag in 2002 and put my heart and soul into the company. Those six years are more then half my adult life. I have neglected other things in my life and now is a chance to catch up on those. I feel it will help me balance out my life when I focus back on my professional life in the future.
Why did you leave GotFrag?
My time with GotFrag is some of the best moments of my life. When I started GotFrag in 2002 I never expected what would grow out of it. I had hopes, but the reality was so much more. Everyone reaches a point where they can only accomplish so much in their given job. With the acquisition by Major League Gaming, the company's goal to streamline everything was a key focus. I started working on MLG's initiative in World of Warcraft and found that my past work with GotFrag wasn't something that I could simply jump back into. I felt it was the right time to leave.
Many remember you saying that you had "the best job ever" and that you would love to work in the eSports journalism field forever. What made you leave eSports?
Who said I left? I have been attempting to balance my life out and understand what life is like when you don't have to worry about 20 different stories going on at once; sorry, Singlecoil, I know it sucks sometimes. Also I have a one year non-compete with Major League Gaming as part of the deal when GotFrag was bought. So I'll be keeping an eye out and hopefully come in to help where I think is best in the future. I loved my work at GotFrag but the time had come to leave and I accepted that. I was sad at first the same way you would after breaking up with a girlfriend but life moves on and I'm looking forward to the future.
What do you think of eSports right now? Is eSports going to continue to grow, or are we stuck where we are?
The entire economy is in trouble right now and hopefully our government and people can help us fix this. There will be pain for eSports but I do believe it's very telling when you see stats like video gaming sales are up 20% even with the economy. The hard part is that the lifeblood of eSports is corporate sponsorship. Companies won't be too excited about sponsoring events right now with their pocketbooks being squeezed. Fans want events, players want events, but right now there's no money to hold them. If people can hold on I feel eSports could come out stronger in a couple of years then it was before simply because this sector is still going strong in the bad economy.
Is Counter Strike going to remain supreme for North American eSports, or do you see another game taking its place soon?
I feel any team that doesn't have an eye on World of Warcraft could be left behind. Counter-Strike is the best FPS game out there by far. The problem is that new fans have moved away from FPS games. A solid base remains but there's simply no way to develop that anymore. The numbers of fans that watch MLG's WoW events that we at GotFrag and GotFrag TV created were amazing. Counter-Strike's BIGGEST problem is HLTV. That may sound weird but HLTV has hurt the growth of CS. WoW and other games that rely on streaming video can inject advertising but HLTV removes this possibility and adds a Valve issue as well. HLTV is a great tool but our community has become so dependent on it that our future is tied to it and I believe that stunted a lot of our potential growth. As I said earlier corporate sponsorship is basically the lifeblood of eSports but if we could add additional revenue streams such as video advertising and ticket sales. With that revenue, we could have new growth potential. I just don't see that with CS right now.
The economy has left many companies without funds and many teams have lost their sponsors. If it gets worse, could the global recession kill eSports?
You can't kill eSports. That's like suggesting you could kill basketball. People will keep playing the game and loving it. Will there be as many big events to attend? Probably not. But I do feel that the ones who survive could be in for a potential Golden Age. I plan to be there.
What was the worse decision you made in eSports? What was the best?
The best is easy, start GotFrag. The worst might have been not going after the CPL. I feel we started strong [at] keeping CPL honest, but as things got near the end we wanted to help keep CPL afloat instead of really trying to keep them from taking advantage of people. That was a mistake and I didn't recognize how truly dangerous Angel Munoz could be. He screwed a lot of people in this industry and it's frustrating to have friends who were left out in the cold. I feel we were honest and upfront with our fans and provided them a truly unbiased source while still helping the eSports industry grow.
What is the one thing that you miss most from eSports? What is the one thing in eSports that you could do without?
I miss the interaction with the players and fans. You develop a relationship with both that is often something akin to a brother. They'll talk crap and give you a bad time but it's still great to see the excitement and joy they have. I also got a thrill from going to the big CPL, ESWC and WCG events. There's nothing that can replace that Saturday of a big event when 2-3 great matches are happening at once and walking between each of them.
I dislike the constant immaturity, but not by the fans that didn't bug me. It was more the immaturity of league organizers and teams/players. People like Angel Munoz and Siege/Element who took advantage of other people in this industry and acted like they did nothing wrong. Those people were punished but not nearly as much as they should have been.
Are you ever going to come back?
When my non-compete is up I will look hard at my options. I will not count anything out but I always like trying something new and finding the best way to help eSports grow. I still feel eSports is one of the best fields. Nothing compares to traveling the World to play video games and meeting interesting people.
Many thanks to Trevor for taking time out of his life to answer our questions.
Images by Andy Price.
Created from www.GotFrag.com.