eSports Beginners Guide: Introduction to eSports

What Is eSports?

Not quite sure what eSports is? Whether it’s a medium for entertainment, a hobby in one’s freetime, or a potential source of revenue from bets, it’s clear that eSports is something everyone should be on the lookout for, especially as its popularity increases. As you can see below, eSports tournaments are able to not only match, but outshine other traditional sporting events. eSports professional gamers can make millions per year. The old adage that video games will ruin your life is officially dead. Don’t believe us? Read this article – Highest Paid eSports Players in the World and you’ll start to understand.

One poll, taken last year by Washington Post-University of Massachusetts Lowell found that 58 percent of 14-to- 21-year-olds said they watched people playing competitive video games, with a similar percentage reporting that they played such games themselves.

Okay, But What Is It?

Before understanding the radical growth of eSports, let’s first establish the basics. eSports is a video game sport that encompasses a wide range and variety of video games, fans, and viewers. It is played worldwide, typically by professional gamers and in tournaments that have boasted record viewerships of over 100 million fans, like the 2017 World Championship for League of Legends, according to analyst website eSports Charts.

And eSports is played on many more games than League of Legends (frequently referred to as LoL). Although LoL is one of the most popular PC video games for eSports both in the United States and internationally, you may also recognize more pop culturally significant titles like Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, or Call of Duty.

How Does The Sport Work?

Types of Games
Generally, the types of games played by professional players or teams can be strategy games, which include multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, like LoL, and real-time strategy (RTS) games. Other extremely popular genres include first-person shooter (FPS) games, or fighting games. Although not considered strategy games, these types of games still involve equal amounts of skill, teamwork, and quick reflexes.

Real-time strategy games are called so because they break from the format of traditional turn-based games. Players must control units to react to events as the game progresses, and these games often have resources and building mechanics to further challenge players. Popular examples of RTS games in eSports include StarCraft II or Warcraft III.

MOBA is by far, the most popular genre in terms of viewership and prize money. MOBA games, which originally spawned as a sub-genre of RTS games, are team strategy games where teams work together against an opposing team to take out their base while defending their own. In 2018, the top prize money for the LoL World Championship was nearly $6.5 million dollars. Another popular MOBA game, Dota 2, had a total prize pool of over $25 million dollars in the 2018 championship and over 52 million total viewers.

One of the most universally recognized eSports genres, first-person shooter games include classic franchises like Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, and Counter-Strike, as well as the more recently popular battle royale genre with titles like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown: Battlegrounds. These games center around weapon-based combat through the eyes of the main character, and usually involve teams competing against each other.

Lastly, fighting games, which include Mortal Kombat and Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros, are games which usually focus on individual players’ skills and tactics in round-based matches.

How The Games Are Played
Watching an eSports tournament, you’ll see the same type of setup we’ve all become familiar with after watching traditional sports. Commentators provide information on the teams, players, and the leagues and tournaments, while a live audience usually watches as the games unfold. Like traditional sporting games, the matches and tournaments are broadcast live to the hundreds or millions of fans that watch live through live streaming platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook.

One of the only things slowing the growth of eSports (which, by the way, is still growing at an insane rate- the audience has expanded by just over 50% since 2016 to now include 557 million total casual viewers and enthusiasts) is the lack of a national or international professional league, like with the NFL or the Olympics.

Due to this lack of an official professional league for eSports, a unique structured system has established itself in the industry. Players organize themselves by specific games, and the games are run and regulated by tournaments or leagues that host the large tournaments and set up the seasons for the sport.

Similar to how American football was organized before the creation of the NFL, teams are organized into a variety of different regions and leagues based on geographic locations. Many leagues focus on specific countries or continents.

The key thing to note is that teams and players are almost always separated by specific games, so they are whittled down throughout seasons through series matches that put teams and players against each other for multiple games in a row. Often, in FPS games, specific teams are extremely skilled or prepared for certain maps over others, so multiple rounds are needed before elimination.

Live Gameplay
With the use of live streaming platforms, like the incredibly popular Twitch streaming site, professional gamers or leagues are able to reach endless amounts of fans in real time. For individual players, this means one on one and more personal interactions with fans. And for large tournament streams, this means real-time engagement with millions of fans and a greater impact on ads that millions of viewers will watch through as they attempt to see every moment of the matches.

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According to Twitch analytic site TwitchTracker, the nearly 600,000 average viewers on the streaming site in 2016 is expected to have grown to 1.28 million by the end of this year. Looking at the graph below, the dramatic growth of live streaming services is shown to be clear.

Where Does The Money Come From?

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As you can see above, there’s a lot of focus on and attention to viewership and revenue in the eSports system. Large game developers, major brand names, and investors with millions of dollars placed on the future of the market are all involved in the hundreds of millions of dollars that eSports generate.

It’s no surprise then that the growing industry of eSports is capable of large amounts of revenue. According to one analysis by Newzoo, an industry analyst, eSports has seen a more than 30% average annual revenue increase, with most of this generated from brand contributions. And, according to that same analysis, eSports is predicted to generate well over $345 million dollars in revenue in North America and over half a billion dollars overseas.

Clearly industry has seen a large increase in revenue in recent years as more and more people are realizing the potential profit involved with the rapidly growing industry. Newzoo also predicted that by 2021, eSports will be generating over $1.6 billion in total revenue, with $1.3 billion coming from these brand investments.

eSports Betting

In 2018, the well respected gambling industry research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming predicted that by 2020, the global eSports betting market would be generating $13 billion dollars. And this report came before the legalization of sports betting in the United States in 2019. Across Europe and Asia, eSports betting markets have been active and regulated for some time now.

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A 2019 article by Inside World football found that “at least 40% of spectators have not played in the video games they watch,” and that “the demographic is 62% male and 38% female, with more than half aged between 21 and 35 years old.” These statistics reveal the reality that Esports is becoming a spectator sport, with potential revenue to be made from the large amounts of people that enjoy watching the sport for entertainment.

The previously referenced article also revealed that, in 2016, over $5.5 billion was wagered on major eSports titles. There are already connections being made in the United States with established gambling organizations. For example, in 2018 gaming provider Paddy Power Betfair acquired the daily fantasy site FanDuel, with FanDuel CEO telling reporters, “eSports is definitely an area of focus for us. If you look at Vegas, there are lots of people who bet on eSports. To use a Wayne Gretzky analogy, ‘That’s where the puck is going.’”

by Brendan Dewley
PUBLISHED May 26, 2019

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Newzoo: More than one billion women are active gamers

Firm’s latest analysis shows 46% of all video game enthusiasts are female

Newzoo has released new research that shows women make up almost half of all gamers, as well as offering some insight into how they engage with the medium.

The study broke down gamers of all types into eight distinct personalities based on their preferences and how much time they dedicate to gaming. This was developed by researching consumer habits from 30 markets around the world.

46% of the people spread across the eight gamer types were found to be female, amounting to more than one billion.

The most common type of female gamer is what Newzoo refers to as the ‘time filler’ — people who play games to pass the time, most likely on mobile. 36% of all women in the study came under this category, compared to 19% of men. In fact, women account for almost two thirds of all ‘time fillers.’

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17% of women were considered ‘cloud gamers’, making this the second biggest category for the gender. According to Newzoo, ‘cloud gamers’ prefer high-quality games — especially if free-to-play or heavily discounted — and only spend on hardware when necessary. This is the group most likely to benefit from the likes of Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project xCloud.

14% were classed as ‘popcorn gamers’, who enjoy playing games but prefer watching games content via Twitch, YouTube et al. Women made up 46% of all ‘popcorn gamers’, making it the most evenly balanced group in terms of genres. However, men aged 21 to 35 were most likely to fall into this category, accounting for 22% of ‘popcorn gamers.’

More than a fifth of all males were ‘cloud gamers’, making this their top category, followed by ‘time filler.’ Third was ‘ultimate gamer’ — those that love both playing and owning games, and dedicate the most time to it. 15% of men were classed as ‘ultimate gamers’ — just under two thirds of this group — versus 9% of women.

Women who were ‘ultimate gamers’ were most likely to be aged 26 to 30, whereas ‘time fillers’ were most likely to be 51 to 65 and ‘conventional gamers’ — those who prefer playing alone, and don’t watch much games content — were most likely to be aged 36 to 40.

by James Batchelor
PUBLISHED May 10, 2019

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Esports just made its way onto ‘The Simpsons’ — here’s why that matters

Key Points

  • “The Simpsons” has featured esports in an episode.
  • It shows the growing significance and popularity of the esports industry.

He has discovered a comet. He has performed in a boy band. Now Bart Simpson has found himself at the heart of what could be a billion-dollar industry this year: esports.

The perennial Springfield Elementary School student became an electronic sports athlete — esports athlete, for short — in Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” titled “E My Sports.” Bart essentially gets a new computer and finds himself glued to “Conflict of Enemies,” based on Tencent-owned publisher Riot Games’ “League of Legends” game. He eventually travels to Seoul to play in a world championship match with Homer acting as coach after the latter finds out how much money can be made in esports (the highest-paid players can make millions).

Co-executive producer Rob LaZebnik said the episode was meant to embody a “cultural tipping point” that has seen esports dominate a lot of conversation about the future of entertainment, sports and media.

“I think it feels kind of inevitable,” LaZebnik told CNBC. “Obviously, video games have been around for a very long time now, and combine that with the fact that everyone is online and on his or her phone, [the expansion of esports] feels so inevitable to me.”

“League of Legends” has been one of the key games driving the growth of esports for years, with 2018′s World Championship finals drawing in almost 100 million unique viewers, about the same number as this year’s NFL Super Bowl.

This comes as esports viewership and revenue overall has increased year on year. Research firm Newzoo estimates that the global esports audience, which includes casual and dedicated viewers, will reach almost 454 million this year. Company sponsorships could account for up to 42 percent of the $1.1 billion in revenue projected by Newzoo.

Riot Games, which was consulted for the episode, says “The Simpsons’” focus on esports benefits the industry as a whole.

“We hope that this episode, on top of all the work we’re doing around the world establishing leagues that are working with leading brands like Nike and Mercedes-Benz, as well as the rising popularity of streamers and pro players, will make a real impact on how people view ‘League of Legends’ esports in the long term,” a Riot representative told CNBC.

The show producers toured the training facilities of one of the world’s oldest esports teams, Team Liquid, for the episode. Team Liquid owner and industry veteran Steve Arhancet ultimately believes esports’ appearance on “The Simpsons” shows the staying power of the space in Western culture, a shift from the more Asia-focused approach esports had traditionally taken in the past.

“There’s many young kids out there who will empathize with this episode on ‘The Simpsons’ more than any other football, soccer or basketball episode they’ve created — just like I would have,” he said. “It’s another milestone that shows esports is here to stay.”



by Annie Pei
PUBLISHED MON, MAR 18 2019 • 9:06 AM EDT

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Five eSports Predictions: What Does The Year Hold For Companies And Developers?

Between League of Legends appearing in the Asian Games and worldwide phenomenon Fortnite dominating headlines, 2018 has been a formative year for eSports. Never before have games had such an assertive presence in mainstream media and entertainment.

As the CEO of a mobile eSports platform for developers, venues and sponsors, I don’t believe the trajectory of eSports is slowing anytime soon — bigger, better things lie ahead. Whether you’re an industry veteran or just starting to explore how eSports fits into your business, these are five key trends to keep in mind while planning your business strategy for the remainder of 2019.

New titles will shake up the top five eSports rankings.

This year, new games will likely challenge incumbents for supremacy. Prominent 2018 launches include the inaugural season of Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League, the introduction of the NBA 2K League, and new battle royale title Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. With fresh content flooding the market, the most popular eSport of the future has likely yet to be created.

Given increasing eSports democratization, consumers will be hungry for innovative content, and top rankings are ripe for the taking. Currently, the most popular consumer trends I’ve seen include shooters, multiplayer competition and mobile experiences — so future blockbusters may feature these elements.

Why does this matter? Understanding what games are trending and why is essential for anyone in the space, whether you’re running a gaming company or a non-endemic brand looking to access the growing eSports audience. For game developers, keeping a pulse on community reactions and responses to new industry trends is critical to developing relevant themes for future titles. Watch closely to see which games are picking up traction. Industry analyst studies, focus groups and preliminary beta testing are all useful options to consider for additional insight.

Brand investments in eSports will increase.

With eSports viewership projected to grow to about 600 million by 2020 (paywall), sponsorships could become more valuable to brands looking to gain an advantage in an increasingly lucrative and competitive market.

Sponsors like Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, T-Mobile, Adidas and even the U.S. Navy have already invested in eSports. Given the positive results of engaging with this global audience, brand investments will likely increase this year, with even more non-endemic corporate sponsors coming aboard.

Gamers are arguably one of the most sought-after audiences — many are young (paywall) and often loyal to their games of choice. According to Dot Esports, research firm Newzoo estimates that global eSports awareness will reach 2 billion by 2021. If you’re in the eSports business, I recommend looking to capitalize on this influx of interest in 2019.

For developers looking to grab a slice of the audience, focus on creating a game that’s simple to pick up, complex to master and fun to watch. The combination of these elements is what I’ve found makes a great spectator sport — and once you get viewers on board, the sponsors will likely follow.

Mobile eSports will go mainstream and sell out professional stadiums.

With an estimated 2.3 billion mobile gamers worldwide (paywall) in 2019, mobile is an incredibly popular gaming platform. As mobile eSports become an increasingly important part of the ecosystem, even more competitors could view it as mainstream entertainment.

This year, you may see more players earning sizable salaries and collegiate scholarships from mobile eSports. In addition, mobile eSports events could sell out more professional sports stadiums. In countries like China, mobile gaming is already taking center stage.

Keep an eye on your smartphones, because they’re growing at breakneck speeds in terms of both technical capability and consumer adoption — GSMA estimates that there will be 5.9 billion unique mobile subscribers in 2025. Developers — especially those that may have overlooked mobile in the past — should consider how rapidly advancing mobile technology can help them achieve a blockbuster hit and reach the largest subset of gamers. I believe the key to breaking into this industry is creating a game that is easy to learn, has a compelling core loop, and offers its players strategic depth in terms of game mastery. This stimulates player acquisition and new user performance metrics — ultimately driving player retention and deeper game monetization.

The industry will experience heightened cheating risks.

While eSports growth has been impressive, it’s not without risk. Similar to offline sports, the growing fame and fortune of athletes can also attract cheaters.

In 2018, BattlEye banned over a million PUBG accounts for hacking. According to PCGamer, banning cheaters is also the “highest priority” for Fortnite developer Epic Games. In Asia, hackers are facing jail time and multimillion-dollar fines for developing and distributing cheats. Although the industry is working tirelessly to prevent cheating, it’s likely that as eSports grow, so too will fraudulent efforts.

This year, I expect more eSports to institute fairer environments for their games, just like we see in offline sports. Whether it’s by integrating increasingly comprehensive third-party anti-cheating software or developing their own, developers creating the next big eSport will have to keep cheating at bay. Otherwise, their game might be over before it begins.

A boom in availability and production value could occur for eSports broadcasts.

Now featured on YouTube, ESPN and more, eSports are quickly becoming a hot area of growth in digital entertainment. ESL, a large eSports league that runs CS:GO and Dota 2 tournaments, signed an exclusive streaming deal with Facebook in 2018 for an undisclosed amount. Twitch’s exclusive rights to stream the Overwatch League is purportedly worth as much as $90 million.

Both traditional and emerging channels are vying to showcase tournaments to viewers. I’d count on seeing even more significant broadcasting collaborations among both cable networks and social media juggernauts in 2019.

Companies and developers planning to break into eSports broadcasting in 2019 should keep the growing number of distribution options in mind to ensure they’re picking the best channel for their content.

The eSports landscape is shifting quickly, and I project the coming months to be some of the most important for the industry’s future. As eSports viewership is expected to grow and mobile devices are becoming more widespread, businesses should consider how they can take advantage of this growing sector.


by Andrew Paradise
Andrew Paradise is the CEO and Founder of Skillz, the worldwide leader in mobile eSports, which was ranked #1 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list.

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Arkansas Activities Association launches Esports in high schools

Arkansas Activities Association launches Esports in high schools

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — The world of competitive gaming, known as Esports, has evolved its way into high schools across the Natural State.

Esports stands as an ever-growing global industry projected to be worth $1 billion in 2019, according to Esports analytics group Newzoo.

This is a dream-turned reality for one Lake Hamilton High School senior.

“I’ve been playing since middle school so whenever the opportunity came up to play again my love competitively, I was like, this should be easy,” said Steven Tyler Turner.

The Arkansas Activities Association partnered up with PlayVS, a California-based Esports league that focuses solely on high schools.

PlayVS has coordinated with the National Federation of State High School Associations to to write rules for high school play.

High schools in more than 12 states are affiliated with PlayVS.

Students must meet certain academic standards in order to participate as is the case for students wanting to play sports such as football, baseball or basketball.

More than 80 schools in Arkansas have signed up for eSports, which offers competition in the spring and fall semesters.

The games offered are Smite, League of Legends and Rocket League.

Arkansas Activities Association launches Esports in high schools1
Students at Lake Hamilton High School spend after school hours practicing for upcoming online competition against other high school teams. (KATV Photo).
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Turner’s specialty is League of Legends.

“It really forces you to learn how to cooperate with people and League of Legends is known for people getting really mad or tilted,” Turner said.

The AAA’s first and foremost goal is to boost student participation, especially by attracting those who aren’t involved in any extracurricular activities.

Derek Walter, AAA assistant executive director, stressed the importance of students learning a variety of life skills while playing video games competitively.

“How can we get them to participate with a team? A teacher coach that will teach them life lessons to teach them how to lose. That’s a huge thing in life,” Walter said.

Walter admits he’s a bit surprised at the positive reception from school administrators, seeing how video games carries a stigma when it comes to correlating gaming with physical exercise.

“We thought we’d have a lot of negative comments regarding the physical aspect of it but really, we still want those kids to do those extracurricular activities where they’re physically active so we’re really not trying to take away from that,” Walter said.

Arkansas Activities Association launches Esports in high schools
Both boys and girls are welcome to participate in competition. Games include League of Legends, Smite and Rocket League, all of which are non-graphically violent. (KATV Photo).
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Logan Horton serves as AP World History teacher and Esports coach at Lake Hamilton High School. Horton is adamant when it comes to the benefits of team-based video game competition.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen this really big emphasis on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) so I can show and encourage these parents Esports will involve them in teamwork and communication and critical thinking skills. All these things that we’re trying to teach students in school anyway,” Horton said.

While focused mainly on academics and school bond, Turner knows there’s great potential for Esports to take off in Arkansas.

From the potential of receiving scholarships for Esports simply earning bragging rights in the state championship , Turner is ready to drum up competition.

“It’s really fun to be able to play a game and to know you’re able to do it for a cause greater than doing it for enjoyment. I think it’s just inspiring to just be a part of this blowup,” Turner said.

According to PlayVS, 200 colleges and universities in North America provide scholarships related to Esports.

Henderson State University is the first college in Arkansas to have an official eSports team and offer scholarships for competitive gaming.

To learn more about AAA’s role in the Esports program, click here.

To learn more about PlayVS, click here.

by Zack Briggs Sunday, February 17th. 2019

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Interpret: Women make up 30% of esports audience, up 6.5% from 2016

Interpret- Women make up 30% of esports audience, up 6.5% from 2016

Women’s viewership of esports grew from 23.9 percent of all watchers in 2016 to 30.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a report by market researcher Interpret. That 6.5 percent change is a considerable leap, considering the heavy representation of men in both esports audiences and professional athletes in the past.

“Changing behaviors among a large segment of people is difficult. Progress of this size always takes time; however, a [6.5 percent] gain in gender share over a two-year period is a trend in the right direction,” said Tia Christianson, the vice president of research in Europe for Interpret, in a statement. “If two years from now, the female audience grabs an additional 6 percent in share, esports viewership will be in gender parity with what we consider standard among traditional console and PC games.”

She added, “As an industry, more progress will be made as females’ role in traditional esports titles continue to grow, given the efforts from some of the industry leaders. More likely than not, a lot of that growth may come in non-traditional esport genres, and especially games tailored to mobile and tablet devices.”

Interpret- Women make up 30% of esports audience, up 6.5% from 2016
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Christianson said that women’s viewership has consistently gained share nearly every quarter since 2016.Of those that play games considered an esport on console/PC, only 35 percent are female. Of those that consider themselves esports watchers, 30 percent are women. Of those that watch esports leagues, 20 percent are women.

Of those that play games considered an esport on console/PC, only 35 percent are female. Of those that consider themselves esports watchers, 30 percent are women. Of those that watch esports leagues, 20 percent are women.

But casual gaming (defined as those who log many hours on mobile and few on PC/console) is dominated by women at 66 percent.

Interpret said the slow increase in traditional female fans of esports may be due to an increased prevalence of mobile games in competitive gaming. According to Skillz, a platform that offers mobile competitive gaming and boasts a large selection of casual games, 7 of the top 10 mobile earners on their platform in 2018 were female.

Skillz has shown that one of the keys to increasing female participation in esports or competitive gaming may be through mobile and tablet devices, with games in nontraditional esports genres.

Extremely low female involvement in major esports titles like CS:GO (24 percent female), DOTA 2 (20 percent female), Hearthstone (26 percent female), Rainbow 6: Siege (23 percent female), and even Overwatch (26 percent female) highlights the core challenge in attracting more female esports fans, Interpret said.

BY DEAN TAKAHASHI @DEANTAK FEBRUARY 21, 2019 12:01 PM

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Newzoo Estimates eSports Revenue Will Eclipse $1 billion This Year

Newzoo estimates esports revenue will eclipse $1 billion this year

PHOTO: The crowd roars during the Overwatch League finals on July 27 at the Barclays Center in New York City. Market research firm Newzoo released projections for the esports industry Tuesday that include $1.1 billion in expected revenues for 2019. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Blizzard Entertainment

The esports market is expected to eclipse $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2019, according to a market report from research firm Newzoo released on Tuesday.

The esports industry brought in $865.1 million in revenue in 2018, according to Newzoo, and stands to reach $1.1 billion in 2019 based on the company’s projections. With a growth rate of 22.3 percent year over year, Newzoo predicted that the industry will rake in $1.79 billion in revenue by 2022.

These numbers are more modest than previous reports from the firm, which outlined $1.5 billion by 2020. The industry will take an additional year, to hit those numbers, according to Tuesday’s report.

The audience for the space is also expected to grow to include 453.8 million people who consume at least one esports event per year in 2019, with 201 million of those fans watching at least one esports event per month, according to the firm. In 2018, Newzoo found 394.6 million people watched at least one esports event per year.

In October and November, more than 58.3 million hours of the League of Legends World Championship were consumed by viewers, with the majority of that viewership stemming from China. By comparison, the second most-watched tournament, the Dota 2 Asia Championships in February 2018, accrued a total of 12 million hours viewed.

The majority of the esports revenue will come from brand investments, which Newzoo categorizes as sponsorships, advertising and media rights. Forty-two percent of revenues are projected to come from sponsorships, which have hit record numbers in the past few years, according to the report. In the past few months, companies such as Coca-Cola, Alienware and others have forged global deals with the Overwatch League and League Championship Series respectively.

Newzoo also predicted an uptick in interest from media companies both on digital and linear TV. In late 2017 and throughout 2018, the League Championship Series and Overwatch League struck multimillion-dollar deals with ESPN, while the Overwatch League also finalized a two-year, $90-million deal with Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch. Other livestreaming platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Caffeine — which raised $100 million from Fox News in September — have committed to making bigger investments in the space as well.

Despite increased interest and revenues, average spending per fan will likely increase but still remain very low compared to traditional sports, Newzoo said. In 2019, regular esports consumers will spend $5.45 per year on esports, excluding the purchase of game titles.

Of the 173 million people who consumed esports more than once a month, 72 percent were men, while 28 percent were women, according to Newzoo’s report. The dominant age range for both was 21-35, including 39 percent of men and 15 percent of women. Of viewers who watched at least once per year, Newzoo found that 66 percent were men and 34 percent were women.

Although the benchmark of $1 billion provides optimism, there are some signs that the esports industry is struggling in other areas. Despite more than $500 million being committed to franchise fees in both the Overwatch League and Riot Games’ League Championship Series and League European Championship in 2017 and 2018, some investors have looked to sell, while some teams have made layoffs within the last six months.

In October, OpTic Gaming and Houston Outlaws parent Infinite Esports & Entertainment — which committed $33 million in franchise fees to the Overwatch League and League Championship Series in 2017 — laid off 19 employees and ousted CEO Chris Chaney. Their main shareholders, a group comprised of Texas Rangers owners Neil Leibman and Ray Davis, are now looking to sell majority stake of that company for around $150 million, ESPN reported in January.

Infinite’s ownership group is not alone. Vision Venture Partners, the parent of Echo Fox and Twin Galaxies, had layoffs in November after its H1Z1 Pro League began to unravel in fall 2018. The Overwatch League had layoffs, too, after it overspent its original estimates, league sources said. Its parent company, Activision Blizzard, also shuttered the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship in December, and Activision Blizzard is expected to lay off hundreds employees this week, per a Thursday report from Bloomberg.

BY JACOB WOLF, ESPN STAFF WRITER FEBRUARY 12, 2019 02:39 PM

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Esports’ College Epicenter Calls Kansas City Home

Esports’ college epicenter calls Kansas City home

The next time you see someone with eyes glued to a computer screen, fingers rapidly mashing buttons on the keyboard, occasionally twitching toward a pile of nearby energy drinks, don’t assume he’s wasting his life on video games.

That person could be just as talented at his (or her) respective passion as a Division I football or basketball player. There’s also a chance that person will go on to participate in a form of college competition, esports, and earn scholarships just as valuable as those secured by counterparts on the football field or basketball court.

And if college competition is in the offing, whether they’re in Seattle or back east or elsewhere in the Midwest, a lot of their direction will probably come from right here in Kansas City.

Esports originated as a free-for-all battlefield when it came to organized competition, especially at the collegiate level. But now, thanks to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), competitive collegiate esports has a platform on which to build.

Based inside the NAIA’s offices on Grand Boulevard in Kansas City and working in conjunction with a host of NCAA and NAIA schools, NACE is the umbrella organization for collegiate esports programs nationwide, from four-year universities to smaller schools like Park University in Parkville, the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan., and KC’s Columbia College.

“It’s a lot of STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) majors, which is a whole different demographic than you would see in traditional sports,” said NACE marketing manager Victoria Horsley. “So we’re reaching out to a whole set of students and a whole different niche, and it’s really nice to be able to see them blossom in college like other people can.”

Since launching in July 2016 under NACE executive director Michael Brooks, the organization has grown to govern more than 120 schools — or 94 percent of colleges currently involved in esports.

Horsley said schools such as Missouri and Wichita State often start out playing Overwatch and League of Legends — two popular video games — when they submit their declaration of intent with NACE. Many later branch into games that are considered more niche, such as Rocket League, Rainbow Siege Six and Counter-Strike: Global Offense.

NACE has yet to see a groundswell of support for collegiate esports competing in traditional sports games — FIFA or Madden, for instance — because game developer EA Sports typically stages its own competitions.

But it’s not just the opportunity to play at the collegiate level that attracts prospective participants.

“Some of our schools don’t offer a whole lot, and then some offer full rides (scholarships),” Horsley said. “It just kind of varies depending on the school, and how much money they have.

“But we hosted a Smite and Paladins tournament in the fall, and we offered $100,000 in scholarships in partnerships with Hi-Rez Studios, which is the developer of those games.”

The relationship between participating colleges and NACE is a two-way street, with schools often incorporating esports into their official teams in order to draw in more STEM majors. The average ACT score of esports students governed by NACE is an impressive 30 out of 36.

“Traditional sports attract the other side of college offerings: School of Business, School of Journalism, those kind of things,” Horsley said. “It’s really beneficial to us to see that … a president of a university can ask, ‘How can I get more math majors?’ and then they see something like esports come in and they see that’s a way to draw attention to (STEM) students.”

At the start of 2018, NACE had just 50 schools in its books. A year later, that number has more than doubled.

Horsley looks forward to the continued growth of both NACE, here in Kansas City, and esports overall.

”For us, personally, it’s awesome,” she said. “We’re kind of on the ground floor of something that is really, really growing. I think it’s really, really great. I get to see the firsthand changes that it makes for students.”

BY SHAUN GOODWIN JANUARY 10, 2019 02:39 PM

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What Side of History Will You Choose?

What Side of History Will You Choose

Is this a good time to enter the eSports industry? That question is either yes or no. History will prove that the decisions people make today are decisions on which side of this line in history they want to be on.

I get asked this questions maybe two or three times a week, “Do you have any concerns about entering into the eSports industry”? And the answer is, No. As a matter of fact, it’s “No . . .” Check out this video to find out why.

What Side of History Will You Choose?

(Transcript) I get asked this questions maybe two or three times a week, “Do you have any concerns about entering into the eSports industry?” And the answer is, No. As a matter of fact, it’s “No . . . “ And the reasons why is just because it’s a one word answer. It’s a binary question and the answer it either Yes or No. And the answer is no because really, the decision I had to make was, “What side of history do I want to be on?” That was it. So I know that this is a defining moment . I know a lot of people don’t understand it. You know what? 1988 and 1989 and 1990, people didn’t understand the internet and now it completely controls everything in your life. It was a binary decision back then too.

Are you going to go all in or are you not going to believe it at all and believe it’s a fad? It’s “What side of history do you want to be on?” So I just want to encourage you if you’re trying to get the answer to that question. Sometimes people talk to me and they want me to convince them of what they should decide. I’m not going to try to convince you. As a matter of fact, I told my colleagues this week, “I don’t want you to spend one minute trying to convince anyone of this. Not one minute.”

People have to decide for theirselves what side of history they want to be on. And I want to encourage you to make that decision too.

If you’re interested in learning more about opening a Contender eSports franchise, Contact Us at any time.

The Big Three Questions of Opening an eSports Gaming Center

The Big Three Questions of Opening an eSports Gaming Center

When considering opening a gaming center, people often visit several locations as they research the pros and cons of an independent location vs a franchise. It is not uncommon to notice at many independent locations that there are a bunch of computers sitting around with wires all over the place, that the place is almost always empty and that the owners look downtrodden.

In the video below, I compare an independent hamburger restaurant (Taylor’s Hamburgers) to the McDonald’s franchise.

The Three Big Questions

At Taylor’s Hamburgers I noticed that it’s small, there’s no branding anywhere, there’s no training anywhere. . . good hamburgers, good people, but that’s about it. However, there are many McDonald’s locations surrounding Taylor’s. What McDonald’s did was they looked at an opportunity where individuals were passionate about a certain thing, in this case, hamburgers and they took their passion and turned it into a business and they were happy with that. There was nothing more to it. Ray Kroc and not necessarily the McDonald brothers, but particularly Ray Kroc looked at that opportunity and said, “Look. . . If we take this thing that people do love (the do love it), there’s a huge audience for this, there’s a huge consumer base for it and we apply standards, branding, structures and training . . .”

Have you ever seen the movie “The Founder”? You should watch it, because you’ll see the process that someone goes through to take something that is loved by people and to standardize it in order to expand and grow it throughout an industry or throughout a country.

Visiting one or two single hamburger restaurants is not a proof of concept. If you want to be part of a franchise, you can’t use independent locations as a proof of concept. You have to look at the industry, see what’s happening and see if you can capture it. You have to ask yourself:

  1. Can I get a better location?
  2. Will I provide a better service or product?” It doesn’t matter what franchise it is, these rules apply to everything.
  3. Can I be a better operator? i.e Can I execute better on marketing, on customer service, on managing building the brand, on PR?

It doesn’t matter what franchise it is, these rules apply to every industry.

We hope this is helpful to you. Honestly, it always comes down to the same three things; questions only you can answer. We hope that you’re able to do that.

If you’re interested in learning more about opening a Contender eSports franchise, Contact Us at any time.

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