esports News

2020 League of Legends

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2020 League of Legends World Championship aims to break esports attendance records

PARIS — One day after a sold-out 2019 League of Legends World Championship at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, Riot Games, the creator of League of Legends, has a single message for the fans.

Next year’s world championship in China, its 10th, won’t be only the biggest esports event of all time but aims to be one of the biggest sporting events in history.

“The big info you gotta know for next year [is] we’re going bananas,” Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games, told ESPN at the company offices in Paris.

The 2019 tournament spanned over a month and was hosted by three cities: Berlin for the group stages, Madrid for the quarterfinals and semifinals and Paris for the final. In 2020, Riot Games will double that number to six cities in China and will include the same number of teams and a consistent timeframe for the overall event. This will break the record for the number of cities hosting games at a world championship. (The previous record was four.)

“We built a remote broadcast center outside of Shanghai that can handle five simultaneous streams from across China,” John Needham, global head of League of Legends for Riot Games, said. “So we’re going to leverage this infrastructure that Leo [Lin, head of Riot Games China] and Tencent invested in to do the biggest spectacle that you’ve seen in esports and one of the biggest in sports, frankly.”

In 2017, Riot Games broke the record for a paid audience at an esports event with 45,000 fans at the National Stadium in Beijing.

South Korean teams SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy faced off in that 2017 final, making it a show for the ages, with scalpers outside the stadium selling floor seats for over $1,000. And though the National Stadium held a capacity of 80,000, the configuration of the stage blocked off almost half of the available seats.

For their return to the largest League of Legends market in 2020, they want to outdo themselves by holding the final at Shanghai Stadium, which seats more than 56,000. Riot Games will change the stage structure to pack as many fans as possible into the stadium to watch what it hopes will be the biggest sporting event in Shanghai in 2020.

Instead of having the stage face toward one side of the stadium, the 2020 setup will be akin to layouts inside the indoor arenas shown in 2019 final, where the players and stage area in the center of the stadium with fans wrapped around them.

“We’re working hard for next year so you can fill all the seats [in Shanghai],” Laurent said. “We’re working hard to make it so that it’s all-around viewing. … We know there is going to be demand, so you’re going to have this all-around experience.”

Aside from the final itself, Riot Games is also already working on how to top its opening ceremony. In Paris, it debuted hologram-like technology during the musical production. In less than 24 hours, the music video “Giants,” produced by Riot Games and performed during the opening ceremony, has been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube. Music and production value have become staples for Riot Games, and like everything else in 2020, it already has ideas on how to go bigger.

“We’ve started earlier than we ever have on planning out the [worlds] music,” Needham said. “We want the 10th [world championship] to be a really special moment for everyone.”

After breaking esports records left and right with its world championships over the past few years, with 99.6 million people tuning in for 2018 final (in which China’s Invictus Gaming defeated Europe’s Fnatic), Riot Games wants to make its marquee event more than a simple tournament. With the 2020 edition, it’s aiming to blend competition, fandom, gaming, and entertainment into something never seen in live production.

“It’s not just esports, it’s a cultural moment,” Lin said.

“Also, we hope it’s not just one month — we want to have a celebration and a warm-up throughout the year. Fans don’t need another 12 months to feel the hype [of worlds]. We can start in January, February, I don’t know. But we want to make it a longer period than we can celebrate, bring the hype and bring the best moments step by step with the players. So be patient, we’ll come back soon.”

The Esports Ads

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The Esports Ads launches esports advertising database

Esports advertising database The Esports Ads has launched with information on over 200 brand activations.

The database was launched by business consultant The Moon, with Nikolay SyuskoNick Arzhantsev, and Sergey ‘greedz0r’ Shirkhodjaev at the helm.

Syusko discussed the launch in a release: “Esport industry is a great opportunity for endemic & non-endemic brands to build long-term relations with millions of customers. The Esports Ads aims to create a bridge between brands and investors & global exceptional advertising activations in esports. This project will tackle the fear of the new industry for marketing directors and brand managers.

“It will become a blueprint for the creative future in esports. We are planning to expand projects by adding educational features, so esports marketing will become as native for esports as possible. Brands will increase their RIO from marketing while esports’ fans will get new emotional experience.”

The Esports Ads aims to “embrace advertisers, agencies & esports teams creativity.” The project is aimed at both endemic and non-endemic brands – examples of the latter that have already activated in esports include Coca-ColaDHL and McDonalds.

The next step for The Esports Ads is to expand upon its database and educational potential by adding further brand activations in esports. This content will be “accompanied by industry key players’ lifehacks on esports advertising efficiency & 101 esports advertising guides.”

Esports Insider says: Advertising is a big deal in almost every industry, and activations are key to unlocking the potential of partnerships and sponsorships. There’s potential with The Esports Ads, it’s all down to how it’s tackled and how visible it is to relevant figures.

Students Start Careers In eSports

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Colleges are helping students start careers in esports

New York (CNN Business) – Colleges have long helped students get jobs in finance, education and other industries. But now a handful of US-based universities are playing a role in launching careers in the competitive video gaming world.

Schools such as University of California Berkeley, University of California Irvine and the University of Utah are connecting students with positions in esports — not just to encourage competitive playing but for sales, business and admin roles. The message companies want to send to kids is that you don’t have to be a gamer to work in gaming.

Although professional players can rise through the ranks over time, often raking in six figure salaries, the career path into an office job in esports is less clear. A lot of these jobs didn’t exist before, as esports organizations transition from startup culture to become larger enterprises. More established companies are offering health benefits and 401Ks alongside those desk jobs. At some other colleges, such as Baruch College in New York and American University in Washington, DC, students run clubs where they can compete on a collegiate level. But many schools don’t offer esports networking opportunities and extracurricular activities are entirely student run. “We are taking a different approach,” said Andy Phelps, a professor and director of American University’s GameLab, a graduate level games program. “The teams here have been club-oriented and student run, so it’s not a direct university owned and pushed enterprise.” At UCBerkeley, over a hundred students gathered on Halloween to network with professional Fortnite players, Twitch streamers and an esports CEO. Panelistsdescribed traversing unconventional paths to get to their current jobs. Other California schools, including UC Santa Barbara and Irvine, are holding similar events this month. Pro esports organization Team SoloMid, partly known for its League of Legends competitive play, will be recruiting at those schools for its summer 2020 internships and the potential for full-time positions. TSM is also looking to partner with Stanford and UCLA. Some students such as 20-year-old Julia Shen, an English major at UC Berkeley, worry about finding jobs in esports as the industry is still searching for sustainable business models. “Esports is such an unstable career path,” Shen, the leader of student group, Cal Women in Gaming, told CNN Business. “It’s the industry where parents are like, ‘Oh, you probably shouldn’t do that.’ But it’s nice that these companies are willing to put in the time to help.” TSM’s efforts are guided by its new head of human resources, John Ponce.

“There was no HR before me,” said Ponce, who said he’s received dozens of LinkedIn messages from students looking for a job in esports. “We’re going to get the bulk of our talent from college students who want to get to esports.”

Twenty-year-old Jayden Diaz, a Twitch streamer known as YourPrincess, is one college student whose career blossomed by streaming her game play in the evenings. She worked at Target on the weekends to subsidize her living costs but quit after two years to stream full time. Over time, people tuned into the Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch to watch Diaz play “League of Legends.”

Although she started off making as little as $1 a month streaming, she built up a a massive audience and found financial success through user donations and subscriptions. “One day of streaming covered one month of working at Target,” she told CNN Business.

She declined to share how much she makes now, but said she’s become financially independent from her family through streaming. She has brand deals with Dr. Pepper and Xfinity, which her esports organization helped her secure.

Students who stream through Twitch have an additional route to making money and starting a career, but it can be hard to get started. Diaz’s advice to new streamers is to stick with it even when few people tune into watch.

“Once you have 10 to 20 people always there on your channel, it’s like a party,” she said. “If only a couple people are there, [other people won’t] show up. But if there’s 10, 20 people, maybe more people will want to come.”

At the Berkeley event, Nicole LaPointe Jameson, CEO of Evil Geniuses, one of the oldest esports organizations, shared how she got her start in the industry without becoming a player.

“I worked in private equity,” said Jameson, who told students her esports company is looking for talent in finance, marketing and business. “Where my strengths really fall is on the business and operational management side of things.”

UC Irvine was among the first schools in the world to build a specialized esports program in 2016. Mark Deppe, director of Irvine’s esports program, told CNN Business that part of the challenge in developing the program has been addressing negative associations.

“Some people believe video games are the scourge of society — and there’s a huge generational gap between young people who play games and other folks who think it’s a waste of time,” Deppe said. “So in addition to building this business and all the stresses that come with that, we have to address the fair critiques and defend against the unfair ones.”

Even as pro esports organizations open their doors to college students, for many, there remains an aspirational element to working in games. “It’s a pipe dream for a career, but it can’t hurt if I’m involved and I put my foot in the door,” said Julian Pagliaccio, 22, a Berkeley senior majoring in mechanical engineering.

Esports Arena

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Esports Arena targets mid-state expansion, but gamers say gaming scene lags behind

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Monday, Esports Arena announced it would be opening a location in Hendersonville.

The location will be inside a Walmart. The company has partnered with Walmarts across the country for Esports Arena locations that accompany three standalone arenas in Southern California, Oakland and Las Vegas.

At the Hendersonville location, which opens later this month, gamers will be able to play in leagues and tournaments. They can face off with each other or against players at other locations across the country. The company’s CEO said he was attracted to the mid-state because of a growing population of younger people and because of Nashville’s active social scene.

“I was kind of surprised to see that,” David Corrigan said. “Because I don’t see a lot of big local tournaments going on all the time.”

Corrigan is the organizer of the Grand Ole Gameroom Expo, that runs from Friday to Sunday at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. The event focuses on classic games, but Corrigan said he’s seen interest in esports tournaments growing over the expo’s four years.

“Last year we had a really good turnout, we had about 180 players for our tournaments,” he said.

Still, he said the overall esports scene in the mid-state lagged behind other cities.

“I think we’re a little behind, but we’re getting some momentum,” Corrigan said.

The Hendersonville location is set to open on November 16.

Esports Stream Aggregator

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Esports stream aggregator, calendar Juked launches

 

A new way to stay up to date on esports called Juked, which aggregates esports streams across Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, and others into a streamlined schedule, provides statistics and enhances viewer experience and encourages cross-game viewing, launched into open beta Wednesday.

The company was co-founded by entrepreneur Ben “Fishstix” Goldhaber — who was the first gaming-specific hire at Justin.tv in 2011, months before it launched Twitch — and programmer and show producer Chris “ChanmanV” Chan. The company first announced its intention to launch on July 1 and underwent private alpha and beta testing stages throughout the late summer and early fall.

Juked will cover more than 20 esports titles, including League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Overwatch and more. The product is similar to TV Guide, outlining the schedule for all esports events and providing embedded live streams and video-on-demand replays to create a game-based and global directory. Juked also provides tournament standings, brackets, and statistics for each event it covers.

“When you talk to anyone in the industry or anyone that’s just a hardcore fan of esports, they know that there’s been a problem with discovery that you have to go to five different sources just to find what you need to understand what’s happening, even just in the top couple of esports titles out there,” Goldhaber told ESPN. “So as esports fans, this is a pain that we felt many, many times throughout the years. There’s a lot of people like us who want to know what’s happening across many different titles, but you can’t do that in any meaningful way right now with the existing products that are out there.”

The new project spawned from a site Goldhaber started prior to beginning at Justin.tv. Over the past few years, Goldhaber and Chan have worked on talk shows on Twitch, primarily one that centered on competitive Overwatch. After Goldhaber was laid off by Twitch in March 2018, he and Chan began brainstorming together and coined Juked.

Goldhaber and Chan did not disclose user numbers from the early and alpha and beta stages, but stated that feedback had been incredibly positive and that the company hoped to grow organically through word of mouth, search engine optimization and leveraging their personal contacts and networks. The company also hopes to roll out premium features via a subscription model in the future, Goldhaber and Chan told ESPN.

“The value proposition for the subscription will be a blend of features that make people’s lives easier just to follow esports,” Chan said. “Things like our newsletter, things like a summary of this past weekend, the highlights you should watch, some of the results that you should know, if you can only spend five minutes or 10 minutes getting caught up. Then content for sure.

“I think ads at some point will be something we consider as well. Maybe first, to be honest, maybe we can serve some ads, just while we’re trying to get users, just have the free experience and then have this subscription.”

The launch of Juked comes as competitors to Twitch have begun investing significantly in the gaming and esports spaces. In the past three months, Microsoft-backed Mixer, Google-owned YouTube and Fox-backed Caffeine have each signed exclusive contracts with influencers, with some also entering the live event esports space.

Juked Creates an Easy Way to Watch Your Favorite eSports

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Juked.gg creates an easy way to watch your favorite esports broadcasts

 

Juked.gg is launching an open beta for its platform that makes it easy for fans to watch esports broadcasts for their favorite teams or personalities.

Juked is a guide to the wide world of esports that makes it easy to stay on top of every trending match from popular games and teams, featuring support for over 20 titles. In addition to showcasing content, Juked is designed to provide answers to the most common issues esports fans face on a daily basis.

If you’ve ever missed an epic moment in esports because you didn’t know when to tune in, where to find the broadcast, or why you should care, Juked is for you, according to the pitch from founders Ben “FishStix” Goldhaber and Chris “ChanManV” Chan. I interviewed them about the business at the recent Esports BAR event in Miami.

“We want to create essentially the best way to watch esports,” said Goldhaber. “As much as esports has grown over the last decade, it’s incredibly fragmented and super difficult for any outsider to understand what’s happening. Even if you’re someone like either of us who’s embedded in the community, it’s a pain to stay on top of what’s going on.”

Juked anticipates what fans need to know and puts it in one place. This includes aggregating and indexing every esports broadcasts (live, upcoming, and VOD) and related data (brackets, standings, schedules, results, player profiles, and teams) into one viewing app, so fans can easily stay on top of their favorite games, teams, and players.

The Juked beta also features an industry-wide esports events calendar which allows users to set reminders for when individual matches or tournaments go live. It can be sorted and filtered by favorite games and teams.

The founders started San Francisco-based Juked because they were frustrated by the lack of a good way to follow the biggest leagues, tournaments, and events in esports. Casual fans and hardened insiders alike feel this problem on a daily basis—with dozens of relevant leagues, tournaments, and events happening every single week, staying in the know has become a constant chore. And this problem is only getting worse as new esports games continue to launch every year.

“When you land on our homepage, you’re going to instantly see all of the live streams, all the live events that are happening right now,” Goldhaber said. “It can be filtered by game by team or by your favorite player. So when you’re watching on Juked, you’re also getting all this context that you wouldn’t necessarily see on Twitch, YouTube, or any other platform. You’re going to get the brackets, you’re going to get the standings, you’re getting the player profiles, the team profiles, the prize pool, the schedule.”

Goldhaber was previously the director of content marketing at Twitch, where he worked from 2011 to 2018. His roots in esports began in 1999, and he played first-person shooters competitively for a decade. He then began doing commentary and streaming in 2008, and in 2010 he launched GamesCast.tv, the first aggregator of live esports content.

This project led to him getting hired at Justin.tv as the first full-time gaming employee, just four months before the launch of Twitch. His initial role at Twitch was as a partnership manager interfacing with and managing relationships with the biggest esports leagues and events on the platform, before moving up to his director position. GamesCast.tv was both a precursor to Twitch and Juked.

“The problem that we’re trying to solve is the fact that there is no central resource to stay on top of all of the biggest tournaments from across all the major titles,” Goldhaber said. “So that’s what we’re trying to build.”

Chan’s background includes 15 years of experience in software and product engineering. He was also a top-rated WarCraft 2 and NBA 2K competitive player and created several of the most popular podcasts in esports over the last seven years. This includes Value Town, Unfiltered, and The OverView, the latter of which Goldhaber was a co-host.

Most recently, he was the head of product, marketing, and strategic partnerships at Hearthsim, an esports analytics company which created HSReplay.net, and is the CEO of Visual Core, creator of popular online game show Streamer Showdown.

The company started in March and it has raised $500,000 in funding. It has begun hiring its staff.

Esports games supported on Juked

  • League of Legends
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Dota 2
  • Overwatch
  • Rocket League
  • Smash Bros. Ultimate & Melee
  • StarCraft 2
  • Call of Duty
  • Hearthstone
  • Fortnite
  • Street Fighter V
  • Tekken 7
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • World of WarCraft
  • Rainbow 6: Siege
  • StarCraft: Brood War
  • FIFA
  • Apex Legends
  • Teamfight Tactics
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Quake Champions

Over time, the company will add a premium subscription model.

“First and foremost, we were focused on tackling this problem, which we think is discovery, making it easy to discover the best content in esports,” Goldhaber said. “And we’ll be creating additional features where our pro users can pay extra to access pro features on the site. So that’s primarily what we’re looking at for business model content.”

Esports Tournaments Facing Cyber Attack

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Esports tournaments facing huge cyberattack threats

Security experts have warned that the global esports industry is facing a growing threat from hackers as its popularity booms around the world.

New research from Trend Micro has warned that as the sport becomes more lucrative, cyber criminals are attempting to target both professional and amateur players as well as affect the games themselves. Esports has grown rapidly over the past few years to become a billion-dollar industry, with tournaments attracting thousands of fans to sold-out arenas across the globe.

Gaming threats

Criminals have targeted esports for many years, but as the popularity increases, so have the number of attacks, Trend Micro found. The firm found that the servers used by companies to host valuable gaming assets are a prime target for exploitation by hackers. Trend Micro found that as of July 25, 2019 there were 219,981 exposed gaming assets easily discoverable via a Shodan search.

The players themselves are also at risk, with criminals launching ransomware attacks to lock out top gamers from their accounts unless a ransom is paid (including some players shelling out up to $1000 in Bitcoin) and phishing malware deployed to steal account details along with financial record.

Trend Micro also warned that tournaments can be targeted with DDoS attacks, or servers targeted for maximum disruption to slow down game-play and affect the reputation of certain companies or organisations.

All of this can also be tied in to the increasing popularity of illegal gambling on esports, with hackers able to affect the outcomes of tournaments to win big for criminal enterprises. “If there’s one thing we know about malicious actors, it’s that they follow the money. Trend Micro has already observed nation state groups taking advantage of security gaps to target the gaming industry for financial gain, and we expect the same in esports,” said Jon Clay, director of global threat communications for Trend Micro.

“As esports becomes a billion-dollar industry, it’s inevitable that attackers will look to capitalise over the coming years. We predict the sector will experience the same kind of attacks as the gaming industry, but on a much larger scale, with financially motivated actors getting involved for monetary and geopolitical reasons.”

Wisconsin Newsroom Wants To Cover eSports

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This Wisconsin newsroom wants to cover esports like high school football

Click the purple “culture” button on the homepage of the Racine (Wisconsin) County Eye, scroll down to “sports and recreation,” and you’ll see just one topic: esports. “The Racine Unified School District Esports season started off with teams playing Overwatch, a team-based game where two opposing teams battle one another to capture objectives, in week one,” reads a story by staffer Mark Sanders. “This game features every sort of character, from the Ronin Samurai Archer, Hanzo Shimata, to a genetically enhanced hamster in a mechanized and weaponized hamster ball known as Hammond, the Wrecking Ball.”

Hold on now — this isn’t just teenagers playing video games.

In March, The Washington Post reported that the esports industry brought in $906 million last year. The Post covers esports. So does ESPN. And now, the tiny Racine County Eye is getting in the game, too.

Good game, well played

The Racine County Eye launched in 2014 as a for-profit, online only site. It has three full-time reporters. Racine’s about 40 minutes south of Milwaukee, and according to the U. S. Census Bureau, has fewer than 80,000 people with 20% of the population living in poverty and a median household income of $42,590.

Publisher Denise Lockwood is using a solutions journalism approach to cover the city, its challenges and opportunities, including an influx of jobs that will come with a new 22 millionsquare-foot factory from Foxconn Technology Group. That approach includes a podcast about employment called “Help Wanted.”

Lockwood and the Eye want to help close a skills gap in a place where the poverty rate is high and 83% of the population has a high school diploma. Elsewhere in town, James O’Hagan has spent the last few years building the esports program at Racine Unified School District. The program rents out space in the same building where the Eye is located.

When Sanders, an Eye staffer and serious gamer, learned of that program and that it went to the state competition, he wondered why it wasn’t getting more regular coverage. Sanders took the idea to Lockwood.

She didn’t get it. At least at first.

“Denise,” she remembers he said. “Do you understand how important this is? These kids get scholarships, too.”

Lockwood started to see an opportunity.

“One of the things that we want to do is really facilitate this conversation around what work is,” she said. “This is one of the sectors that is going to be in high-need based on a county-wide report.”

Here’s how coverage will work:

Sanders will write weekly dispatches from the games that include featured players and plays of the week, which the Eye got sponsorship for.

For bigger trend stories about esports, O’Hagan said members of the school district’s esports program agreed to work with the Eye as “press secretaries,” pointing Sanders to stories that deserve coverage.

Lockwood also hopes to partner with area tech schools to introduce the esports team members to those programs and help them see how their skills can translate into careers.

“This is a really big deal because a lot of the kids that are playing these games are kids who don’t have technology in their homes,” Lockwood said.

It’s also a great way for the Eye to help a new generation understand how news is made and why it matters, she said.

“Nobody else is talking to these kids about why news is important.”

All Star eSports League

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Esports has exploded in recent years, as big brand names continue to invest in the competitive gaming field.

All-Star eSports League is trying to capitalize on the expansion by catering to students, particularly high schoolers.

“A lot of high schools find that link between STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] interest and eSports. So that’s why they’re getting interest, at least in the high school scene,” 17-year-old CEO of All-Star eSports League Jordan Zietz tells YFi AM.

Zietz says that exposing kids at this age to eSports can help prepare them for the future.

“Particularly, in STEM, I think what’s super interesting about the advance there is that not only are people kind of preparing for jobs, but STEM jobs are more entrepreneurial in nature,” he says.

Zietz says his company has adapted to fit the high school mold, and further differentiates itself from competitors by being the only free high school eSports league. The company also offers “several million dollars in scholarship prizing, peripheral upgrades, grants, and more for our students,” says Zietz.

With technology taking on a larger role in future jobs, Zietz says the importance of eSports is growing, and can be linked to future interest in STEM jobs. “It’s less trying to fit into a role, when you’re pursuing a STEM job, and more you’re trying to change the world,” he says. “That’s why I think the link between eSports and STEM is incredibly relevant because eSports teams and players are very resourceful, innovative, and they constantly have to think on their feet,” he adds. Earlier this year, a report by gaming analytics firm Newzoo projected that global esports revenue will hit $1.1 billion this year — a 27% spike since 2018, as Reuters reported.

Booming eSports and Video Gaming

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Booming eSports and Video Gaming Already Bigger Than Music and Movie Industries Combined

FN Media Group Presents USA News Group News Commentary

The eSports and video gaming market have already outpaced their contemporaries in the film and music businesses with what is expected to be a $300 billion annual industry by 2025. So, it seems ironic that investors are slow to catch on.

That’s according to portfolio managers who think the industry has plenty of room to run. Especially since it continues to grow in the double digits. Or more simply put, market watchers believe that the growth and success of video gaming and eSports is not just another bubble.

The eSports industry is being dominated by big companies looking to develop the industry’s reach and player interaction such as Allied Esports Entertainment, NetEase and Electronic Arts Inc., alongside other companies that are aggressively building platforms and infrastructure.

Innovative new companies in the industry, like Versus Systems Inc., are adopting changes that are helping to transform the business. Versus Systems has set its mission to offer real-world product prizing for players in-game. The company operates a business-to-business software platform that game developers and publishers use to create prize-based matches to players. The Vancouver-based company is establishing a niche unlike anything in the marketplace.

Just How Big is Big?

It’s hard to get a grip on just how big the eSports and gaming market has become. As an example, the world championship finals for the online battle arena video game League of Legends attracted twice as many viewers as Super Bowl 52 in 2018. Likewise, the fan base is enormous, with the massive gamer audience for the Amazon-owned video streaming service Twitch second only to Netflix, based on minutes per user watched.

It makes sense then that the industry would be attracting all kinds of investors. The thing is, it’s really not – at least it hasn’t been so far. Portfolio managers and analysts have pointed out that investors, like most of us, are “newbs” in this space, and so we have little or none of the experience that would allow us to invest in the growth companies.

“To me, it’s one of the most asymmetrically priced risk profiles in a lot of equities right now. Just because there’s not a lot of attention being paid to it,” states Nick Mersch, a manager of a global investment portfolio heavy into the eSports and gaming space.

“There are so many future monetization possibilities that it just has nowhere to go but up.”, he says.

The pros have pointed to three main areas where investors can position themselves in this dynamic and fluid market; through publishers, through teams and via the technology.

“If you can gauge community interest around the titles and look at the release schedule, you can tie in some of their earnings,” Mersch said.

For most, that would mean backing giants like Chinese juggernaut Tencent. They are the owner of such monster franchises as League of Legends and Fortnite, as well as the mass Chinese messaging, social media and payment app WeChat. Of course, Tencent is already capitalized at over $400 billion, so you are hardly looking at early stage.

On the other hand, investors could seek eSports team play. These are like traditional sports franchises, complete with sponsorship deals, advertising and player contracts, as well as media agreements. Getting a piece of these players is much more complex for the average investor thanks to the significant private ownership that dominates the group.

Technology a Simple Play in Gaming

The technology that drives eSports and gaming may be one of the easy entry points for early investors. Companies like Versus Systems are using new approaches, such as the company’s WINFINITE platform to kick up revenue. Game developers and publishers can now use the Unity engine to offer players in-game contests, as well as sweepstakes. Versus System stands to generate returns on signing licensing deals as the platform continues to elicit strong demand with game publishers and developers.

One of the early adopters is HP, Inc., who just announced they will integrate WINFINITE technology into their products. Versus is powering OMEN Rewards, a real-world prizing platform built into OMEN Command Center and available for download by any Win10 PC via the Windows Store.

Versus Systems has also inked a strategic partnership with Ludare Games Group. In its agreement, Ludare plans to integrate WINFINITE platform on its upcoming games, including popular augmented reality games.

Versus expects to expose WINFINITE to as many developers and publishers as possible. That’s why they entered into a marketing agreement with Los Angeles based Radley Studios. The high-profile marketing partner is responsible for introducing the WINFINITE technology to major entertainment, media and advertising adopters.

Finding Niches May Also Mean Thinking Outside the Box

Portfolio manager Mersch also suggests that investors may have a larger range of options as an influx of gaming properties from the United States follow in the footsteps of U.S. cannabis producers. That group had successfully used reverse takeovers to list on Canada’s junior exchanges with the strategy to up-list to a larger board.

There are also a number of existing companies, like Versus Systems, that originate in Canada and then co-list over the counter in the U.S. This is a great place to seek out competitive new brands and technology companies that have captured the interest of the larger gaming industry.

If eSports and eGaming reach the kind of massive revenue numbers the current data suggests, some of these newcomers may become the future giants of the industry that come to define the future of gaming, game play and monetization models. Companies already seeking to take the active lead in this sector include:

Allied Esports Entertainment, the creator of esports venues and live events for both video games and poker, has gone public in a transaction with Black Ridge Acquisition Corp. Allied Esports International and WPT Enterprises, will become Allied Esports Entertainment. Allied Esports Entertainment is known for creating the Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel with MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas, and for its World Poker Tour events.

NetEase plans to invest over $ 725 million in building an e-sports park in Shanghai, according to an announcement at the 2019 China Digital Entertainment Congress (CDEC) on Saturday, effectively doubling down on efforts to develop a complete e-sports ecosystem to rival Tencent.

Electronic Arts Inc.’s game portfolio strength has been its major growth driver in recent times. The company has a strong slate of game releases lined up for the fall game rush including the recently unveiled Need for Speed Heat. The latest title in the popular racing franchise is scheduled to be available from November on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.