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Patrick 'Chief Pat' Carney On Tribe Gaming, AT&T Partnership, And The Future Of Mobile Gaming & Esports - Exclusive

From humble beginnings in 2012 as a mobile gaming content creator on YouTube to becoming the Founder and CEO of Tribe Gaming, Patrick "Chief Pat" Carney has been at the forefront of the mobile gaming evolution. His initial quest for "Clash of Clans" guides led him to fill a noticeable gap in mobile gaming content. Today, Chief Pat presides over an empire that straddles eSports teams, mobile gaming content creation, and influential partnerships, like the recent one with AT&T, that shape the industry.


In his journey from enthusiastic gamer to industry leader, Chief Pat has witnessed firsthand the transformation of mobile gaming — from simple puzzle games to complex triple-A titles now playable on mobile devices. His insights into the maturing ecosystem are not only enlightening but important for understanding where mobile gaming fits within the larger gaming landscape.

In an exclusive interview with SVG at PAX West 2023, Chief Pat discussed the evolution of mobile gaming, the unique challenges and possibilities it presents, and what he's most excited about in this continually evolving landscape.

Mobile gaming's evolution

How have you seen the mobile gaming landscape evolve compared to consoles and PC gaming, and how does that all relate to the mobile eSports scene?

When I got into mobile games, which was in 2012, there was literally no mobile gaming content on YouTube. I went to search for guides for a game called "Clash of Clans" and there were no results. It was just PC console gaming at the time. And that was sort of the inspiration for my YouTube channel in the end. I was like, 'Okay, well I guess someone can post mobile gaming content. I love mobile games. Let's try it and see what happens. And lo and behold, from no mobile gaming content being posted in 2012, if you fast forward to today, I think from a player-based perspective, more people play on mobile devices than any other device.


From a revenue perspective, mobile games generate more revenue than PC and console combined. And even on YouTube, out of the top five most-played games, two of them are mobile games, and two of them are playable on mobile. So literally, four of the top five can be played on mobile.

It's crazy how things have changed. And for me being one of the first YouTubers for mobile games and creators, I've seen it change so drastically. It used to be match-three games where you're just doing puzzles, and now you can play games like "Call of Duty" and "Fortnite" on your phone, which is wild. Now that you can play full triple-A titles in high fidelity on mobile, the possibilities are limitless. It's super exciting.


Taking mobile gaming to the next level

How do you see mobile gaming companies adapting to the increased technical demands of games like "Call of Duty Mobile?" Are there any limitations to what they can do? Is it more platform-based, or is there a balance between the two?


I think now, more than ever, you can have full in-depth games on mobile, which is awesome. The quality of the graphics, fidelity, UI, and frame rate have all gotten so strong. The only thing now is really just when it comes to the interface — how can you take these games that have a hundred different inputs like a "World of Warcraft," for example, and get them onto mobile in a way that makes sense? It really comes down to developers and publishers creating games with a mobile mindset. If you just take your game and port it over to mobile, but you don't actually make it so someone can have an enjoyable experience on mobile, it's never gonna work.

You have to do something specific. And that's why, when you look at "Call of Duty Mobile," for example, they've done an awesome job of taking that core "Call of Duty" experience and not watering it down, but modifying it for mobile in a way that makes sense. That's definitely been the key, and the winners in the space have been the developers who've made games and made those tweaks necessary to make them mobile-friendly.


I think we'll continue to see that — especially with the last three years or so, almost all of these big triple-A titles have had some sort of mobile strategy and either have released or are releasing those games, and they're taking learnings and wins from other companies to be able to ultimately develop [for mobile]. So, it's a really exciting time.

The next big thing?

Where does AR and VR fit into this landscape? Is that really the next big thing? Or — after watching your video of playing a game on the Samsung watch – is that the next thing?

[Laughs] I think there are some cool iterations of what you can do with AR on mobile. The Samsung watch and playing "Brawl Stars" on that was interesting, but I don't know. I'm not an expert and I still feel like it's a little bit away, at least in the mobile game space, but we'll see.


Must-haves for mobile gaming

On that note, are there any certain mechanics that you think are underutilized, or are there potential things that are maybe untapped within the mobile space?

A hundred percent. Technology continues to improve within mobile and products are getting better. Games are getting better. With my company, Tribe Gaming, we have our creator network inside of it, and we have to rely on a fast network to play games at a high level. We call it the "Wi-Fi bars of death" when you get the red Wi-Fi bars that pop up on your screen when you're playing.


Partnering with AT&T, their 5G has been amazing, whether on the go or using fiber at home to play games at a high level. And that's part of the complete package. You have to have a strong enough connection to play games at a high level. You have to have the hardware in place to play games at a high level. And then you have to have the games themselves developed and optimized for that experience.

Now more than ever with mobile, and as we get into cloud gaming and different types of experiences, you have all the pieces in place to have a high-fidelity gaming experience, and that's all possible because of those amazing partners.

On the AT&T partnership

How did the relationship with AT&T come about?

I've been an AT&T subscriber and user for close to a decade. I actually used to travel a ton internationally, and I would use their international plan when I'd go on these trips to Finland to visit Supercell and talk to them about mobile games. Naturally, Tribe Gaming is a mobile gaming eSports organization. We compete in different mobile games and we have creators in different mobile games. If you think of literally the most important partners we could have, it's the device that we're using and it's the connection.


Partnering with an industry leader like AT&T who's leading the charge with 5G and their connectivity services is huge. If you're a professional eSports player in mobile games and you have a bad connection, you literally do not stand a chance. You do not stand a chance at all. Period. We have to partner with the very best within these two categories. Having used AT&T myself for 10 years, as I've gone from zero to over 2 million subscribers on YouTube, as we won multiple World Championships with our teams who played on AT&T ... when we started having those partnership conversations, I was like, 'Yes, this makes sense.'

It's such a fit for our company, and as mobile gamers, in the end, when a high-quality partner like that wants to work with you, you jump right on it.


Championship season

Is there anything coming up that you're especially looking forward to, whether it's with your YouTube channel, Tribe Gaming, or eSports events?

I'm really excited about our teams going to the World Championship. Actually this weekend, our "Call of Duty Mobile" team is competing to qualify for the World Championship. I'll be tuning into that here in Seattle. But yeah, we have "Brawl Stars," "Clash of Clans," "Clash Royale," "Call of Duty Mobile" — all the World Championships are in Q4. It's our Super Bowl season for global eSports. We're really excited about that.


Company-wise, we launched our partnership with AT&T a couple of months ago, but we are actually working on a really fun activation that is gonna be basically 'mobile gaming on the go' in a way that no one has ever seen before. I can't give all the teasers, but that's probably my most exciting thing coming up early next year.

Outside of that, I would just say seeing the new games that come to the table, whether from Supercell ... obviously "Marvel Snap" has taken over by storm and it's been a super fun mobile game. As some of these developers release these long-awaited games, "Warzone Mobile," "Valorant Mobile;" those are the games that we're so excited about and want to dive right into.

This interview has been edited for clarity.