Fonterra is dipping its toes in the gaming market with Esports Assessment Labs software - so we put it to the test

Fonterra turns attention to esports with new gaming performance software Esports Assessment Labs.
Photo credit: Getty

Dairy giant Fonterra is making a surprise foray into the world of competitive gaming, launching new software designed to assess the esports potential of Kiwi gamers.

Not every gamer has what it takes to be a professional sportsperson in Aotearoa's newest sporting code, which is why Esports Assessment Labs is intended to test the cognitive capabilities of professional esports players and armchair gamers around New Zealand.

Based on a 45 minute test assessing reaction time, spatial thinking, motion perception and working memory, people will be able to rank themselves against the likes of elite regional esports players and popular streamers, as well as other players from their chosen game.

Participants receive a comprehensive report detailing the areas where they either excel or lag, and can compare their results against players within their chosen game or the wider gaming populace.

The software is currently available to use for free online - but esports experts are somewhat sceptical about its value.

Fonterra's Carl MacInnes says esports is of growing interest to the company, claiming there's potential to become a market leader in 'gamer health'.

"Gamers are looking for specific nutrients to enhance cognition and manage stress," MacInnes tells Newshub.

"Esports players are eating and training like professional athletes, and adopting the same sport science and nutrition support as traditional athletes."

Fonterra is researching the benefits of introducing a dairy beverage or protein supplement specifically targeted towards gamers.

MacInnes says aspiring esports stars wanting to get an idea of how good they actually are is why the Esports Assessment Labs was developed.

"Gamers are naturally competitive, wanting to know how they rank and how to improve their

gameplay," he says.

"We've worked with a number of external providers who specialise in cognitive assessment and

cognitive science to build a robust platform, so that gamers know where to focus to improve their game."

Competitive esports gaming PC.
Photo credit: Razer

A far cry from its usual dairy business, Fonterra's venture into competitive gaming has left many in the esports industry bewildered.

And while many players are finding it a good bit of fun, some industry leaders remain unconvinced the software can be used as a fair metric to gauge upcoming and existing talent within New Zealand's growing esports sector.

Esports industry veteran and ex-professional player Brandon 'Swip3rR' Holland says the software has potential, but cautions its results shouldn't be taken at face value.

"You need to consider performance, like how you're going to perform on the day, and what your peak performance looks like versus your average performance. Experience is also something that's very valued," he says.

Holland says the software could potentially benefit teams scouting for fresh recruits.

"In terms of young talent, this is an area where it would benefit organisations. When you want to pick up young foster talent, these metrics are what you look for. It would definitely help in these areas."

But the software isn't perfect. While the website offers a number of streamers to compare your results to, it lacks the stats of credible esports players.

But how does that stack up against a very average Kiwi gamer? 

Fair warning: I'm not the speedy keyboard clicker I once was. After spending years gaming for fun, I really haven't improved much beyond the average player and languish in the lower competitive ranks of most games I play.

That's why it came as quite the surprise to discover I'm on the verge of a professional esports career.

According to my results, I'm little more than one percent worse than elite players from the Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) region, meaning with a little practice, I could break into the upper echelons of competitive play.

I apparently hold a significant edge over elite gamers in New Zealand in cognitive abilities like reasoning and information processing, but fall seriously short in spatial identification and reaction time.

Oskar Howell's Fonterra Esports Assessment Labs test results on Newshub.
Photo credit: Newshub.

This specific combination of cognitive ups and downs leaves me well-suited to strategic games like League of Legends and DOTA - games I tend to avoid.

In reality, I'm just too bad to be this good. My test results fail to materialise the moment I pick up the keyboard and mouse.

So just how accurate does the test from Esports Assessment Labs seem to be?

While the test is a brilliant bit of fun for measuring reaction times, it seems unlikely it will be used as a solid metric to test upcoming esports talent.

So if your teenager comes to you claiming they're the next Maradona of esports, don't be so quick to let them sign on the dotted line just yet.