The eSports landscape is starting to gain more structure, and as things formalize, two logical stakeholders – game developers and sports ownership groups – are affirming their roles.
Developer Activision Blizzard officially announced the ownership groups for the first seven teams in its Activision Overwatch league where, like pro sports, the teams will be city based (5 in US, 2 in Asia). Among the initial owners are Patriot’s owner Bob Kraft, the Met’s Jeff Wilpon, and Andy Miller of the Kings. Sports ownership groups like these have distinct advantages to maximize the investment in an eSports team: existing live venues, fan bases, media distribution, and team management expertise.
Additionally, Chinese giant Tencent has recently made its eSports ambitions clear by announcing a $15B five-year plan for eSports ventures that includes leagues, organizations, theme parks, events, and even an ‘eSports town’. Tencent owns Riot Games (League of Legends) and the majority of SuperCell (mobile games like Clash of Clans). They are extremely well positioned with these assets, deep pockets, and access to the largest eSports market.
Game developers and sports ownership groups have always made sense as leaders in the development of eSports. Now, as they create infrastructure, more money flows in, and ‘mainstream’ attention is paid – there continues to be opportunities to build and invest in emerging technology companies across the participatory, media, and monetization elements of the industry.