Populous explores the future of eSports at SXSW

Populous believes the eSports industry is ripe with opportunities to retrofit traditional sports arenas for live gaming experiences.

Kansas City-based architecture firm Populous is headed to Austin this spring to demonstrate the opportunities within a burgeoning new realm: eSports.

Brian Mirakian, principal and director of Populous Activate, says eSports are "snowballing in popularity." It's already a nearly billion dollar industry, growing at an impressive rate of more than 20 percent each year.

"Its audience is young, global, digital and drawn to the live event -- everything traditional sports aspires to be," he said. "Only a handful of eSports-specific venues currently exist and none currently have the live event hosting capability of a full-size arena."

In fact, the growth of the eSports industry has made waves in the world of traditional sports over the last decade. According to Populous, professional team owners are beginning to invest in eSports teams to become early adopters of a new market ripe with potential.

Mirakian will join a panel of experts at SXSW to further explore the topic, including Wim Stocks, executive vie president of Virgin Gaming, and Stan Press, former professional eSports player and managing director of digital and gaming for Magid Associates. The panel will investigate the business and operations side of the eSports arena, outline the ideal fan and player experiences, and explore the potential for eSports arenas.

"This session will offer a unique perspective on the future of the sport, the fans, and the venues of tomorrow," Mirakian said.

The session is scheduled for Sunday, March 12 at 3 p.m. ET, as part of the SXSW Sports track.