GosuGamers Weekly Business Review, 24/3 - 31/3
Welcome to the Gosu Money Review, where we take a look at the biggest, most interesting or sometimes just strangest stories to permeate the world of eSports business each week.
Image courtesy of 666Darks
The evolution of our scene continues at a rapid pace in 2017, and one trend that began a while ago seems is in no danger of going away just yet. Whether we like it or not, sports and eSports seem destined to combine or intersect over and over in coming years, and 2017 looks like it will see the first attempts by established giants of sports to muscle in on the electronic scene.
Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the National Hockey League in the U.S., was speaking this week at the Sport Business Summit Leaders event in The Times Center, New York. The event was attended by the likes of Anthony Noto, Twitter’s COO, and Sebastian Coe, a man eSports should be very worried about if he continues to hang around. Bettman spoke about his plans for an eSports league, which seem to follow other models proposed lately.
Probably the most interesting aspect of the plan is the mention of Bettman having spoken to EA, publisher of the most successful Ice Hockey titles, about “having a game that can replicate hockey in terms of having six players that are playing together against other teams." We’ve seen this sort of thing suggested before in other similar situations, but it runs contrary to the traditional 1 v 1 way sports games have worked in eSports.
However, it is undeniable that the NHL has both the money and the reach to make a real impact on our scene, and are far from the first to move in. The Esports Observer (TEO) reported on similar plans being fermented by the NBA in February of this year, and also in attendance at the aforementioned summit were the likes of NFL COO Tod Leiweke and Christian Seifert, CEO of German football league the Bundesliga.
With all the big birds circling, we can at least be thankful that they seem intent on running virtual versions of their own product for now, and as faithfully to the original product as is possible. This means that the ‘real’ or top end eSports games will be allowed to continue to develop unmolested for some time, although how long is not certain yet, and when that time is up we can only hope the NHLs and NBAs of the world have learned a lesson.
The biggest issue they will have is a lack of organic knowledge, as already seen in their insistence on running 11 v 11 in FIFA or 6 v 6 where most traditional eSports events have been 1 v 1 instead. With Thiemo Brautigam of the Dot Esports reporting that Galatasaray recorded a $200k profit from their eSports division, it probably won’t be a hard sell for Bettman to get the teams involved, and who knows, he might even manage to revolutionise sports eSports and bring them into the big time.
SK and Renegades join WESA
There was some good news for embattled WESA this week as two major teams announced they would be joining up with the wannabe governing body. SK Gaming and Renegades have signed on the dotted line to join the likes of fnatic, FaZe, G2 and others as members of the organisation, which is ostensibly run for the good of eSports and without personal interest.
SK and Renegades are both big enough teams for this to be news in itself, but the clock is ticking for WESA if they want to have a real impact and position themselves in the scene as a sort of governing body/regulator. The conflict between those aims and representing the teams within the group was evident in the statement given by SK CEO Alex Muller though, found below.
“We have been looking for ways to partner with the leading organizations in order to both professionalize the industry, as well as grow our profile. We believe that the organization fits our strategic goals with the collection of teams within WESA. We look forward to working collectively with all of the other WESA members to take eSports mainstream.”
With lines like ‘grow our profile’ and ‘fits our strategic goals’ it looks obvious that this move is not predicated on SK loving the attempts WESA are making to work toward a cleaner future, but instead about throwing their eggs into a much bigger juggernaut of a basket. How it works out is unsure, but it is at least a first bit of good news for a group that’s had a tough time of things lately.
Investment in Indian eSports
Speaking of growing profiles, eSports in China and India has been a topic for a while now, with many westerners pointing out the massive potential of those nations, and many people more familiar with said nations pointing out how unbelievably difficult it is to run an event there. This week, TEO reported that $10m was being poured in by Route Mobile founder Rajdip Gupta, who plans to run a domestic eSports league in India.
With details on the league being scarce at present, it’s hard to say how successful it will be, but hints that Dota 2 and Counter-Strike will be their titles of choice speak to at least a basic understanding of eSports overall. The new firm designed to carry the initiative is known as COBX Gaming, and their stated ambition is to bring Indian eSports to the international level by 2018, with Gupta believing the current situation is down to nothing more than a lack of opportunity for young Indian players.
“If you see our talent in games such as CS:GO and Dota 2, they are not bad, the major problem is that they don’t get that exposure. Our goal is to make India a fixed destination on the international eSports calendar. So young teams are exposed to experienced players, that is the only way we can have teams playing at majors and high level tournaments across the world.” With Nazara also investing $20m in Indian eSports over the next few years, it’s clear this is a market that can only grow, and it’ll be interesting to see how COBX overcome the traditional issues facing event organisers in that part of the world.
Finally, some more good news for one of the newest and apparently greatest production firms in eSports, that being the Turner - WME/IMG owned ELEAGUE. The group, which recently held their first major in the states, has been nominated for an Emmy for ‘Outstanding Studio Design and Art Direction’, going up against a couple of little events known as the Olympics and the Super Bowl.
Presented by Richard Lewis and held in Atlanta, the ELEAGUE Major in the early part of this year was a truly special event and saw some epic Counter-Strike to boot. Since then, ELEAGUE have expanded to include fighting games, with Street Fighter 5 appearing on their network and getting some positive reviews, so it's clear they aren't done yet. Recognition for the group at this early stage is a fantastic reward for attempting to bring professional television values to eSports, and even a loss to one of the other nominees would be no embarrassment given the vast disparity in wealth.
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