Microsoft Buys Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion

The Verge: “Microsoft is acquiring Activision, the troubled publisher of Call of DutyWorld of Warcraft, and Diablo. The deal will value Activision at $68.7 billion, far in excess of the $26 billion Microsoft paid to acquire LinkedIn in 2016. It’s Microsoft’s biggest push into gaming, and the company says it will be the “third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony” once the deal closes.”

“Satya Nadella says the deal will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms”

“Microsoft plans to add many of Activision’s games to Xbox Game Pass once the deal closes. With the acquisition of Activision, Microsoft will soon publish franchises like WarcraftDiabloOverwatchCall of Duty, and Candy Crush. “Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog,” says Microsoft’s CEO of gaming Phil Spencer.”

Cedar Point Preparing $28 Million Esports Arena

ABC: “Cedar Point is looking to be a leader for indoor entertainment as well, announcing Thursday that the company was exploring the potential development of an esports arena in Sandusky.”

“Cedar Fair Entertainment Company said it was partnering with Esports Development Co. to develop preliminary plans for the estimated $28 million arena, which would consist of a 1,500 seat facility, hosting a 200-station gaming hub, with locker rooms and a food court all on the first floor.”

“The second floor of the facility would include a restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a broadcast studio and ancillary office space. The third and fourth floors are to be dormitory rooms for esports camp and event attendees.”

U.S. Department of Justice Looks Into Overwatch League’s Soft Salary Cap Policy

Dot Esports: “The U.S. Department of Justice antitrust division is probing the Overwatch League over its soft salary cap policy that discourages teams from excess spending, sources familiar with that inquiry told Dot Esports.”

“The probe is being headed by DOJ trial attorney Kathleen Simpson Kiernan, who works for the Civil Conduct Task Force subdivision of the antitrust division in Washington. Kiernan and other DOJ attorneys have contacted and interviewed several former Overwatch League employees, according to sources. The nature of Kiernan’s investigation is not criminal, sources said. A spokesperson for the DOJ declined to comment on June 6.”

“At the center of Kiernan’s inquiry is the lack of a players’ union, which would allow the Overwatch League to apply for a “nonstatutory labor exemption.” That status has been granted to the NFL, NBA, and other pro sports leagues who have labor unions.”

“Kiernan’s team has also contacted Activision Blizzard, the operator of the Overwatch League. As a result, Activision Blizzard has communicated to team executives not to tamper with or destroy information regarding player salaries, a routine measure taken in cases of a government investigation.”

TSU Opens Academic Esports Center For Undergraduates and Graduates

News Channel 5: “Tennessee State University is offering courses in competitive video gaming also known as eSports.”

“TSU announced Monday the campus will be getting an Academic eSports Center set to open on the main campus this fall.”

“Whether you are in preschool playing Pokemon, or you are a senior citizen playing Fortnite we try to bring in academic eSports,” Melton said, “We are behind the scenes, looking at the psychology, the technology, the innovation of game playing of entrepreneurship, managing, coaching.”

“TSU has launched esports classes and joined esports organizations and leagues that will allow students to improve their gaming skills, as well as network with tech companies.”

Baltimore Ravens Announce New Esports Gaming League

Baltimore Ravens: “The Baltimore Ravens announced Monday the Ravens Gaming League, a new gaming and esports initiative and platform where fans of the team and league can participate in esports competitions and activities. The initiative will launch with a Fortnite tournament (June 25-27), while a second tournament, featuring Madden NFL 22, will be held later this summer.”

“As part of the Ravens’ new eSports initiative, the team also entered into a multi-year partnership with Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) to become an esports tournament provider.”

“Our esports tournament platform continues to gain strong traction among top-tier professional sports franchises. We are delighted to add the Ravens as our first NFL partner to go live on our platform, Esports Gaming League CEO Grant Johnson stated.”

PlayVS Agrees to Deal With Nintendo Leading the Way For More Esports Opportunities to High School Students

Esports Insider: “North American amateur esports platform PlayVS has announced a partnership with game developer Nintendo.

“As a result of the deal, Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 will be added to PlayVS High School Leagues in the US and Canada.”

“In total, PlayVS has secured strategic partnerships with 23 state associations and regional leagues in the US and Canada. The platform aims to provide high school players with the opportunity to compete in a series of esports titles. As of right now, PlayVS operates official, national leagues for titles such as Fortnite, FIFA, Madden, and League of Legends, among others.”

Cleveland Cavaliers Partners With Esports Entertainment Group

NBA: “Esports Entertainment Group, Inc. have announced a multi-year partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers to be the NBA franchise’s official esports tournament platform provider. As part of the new multi-year agreement, the Company will operate three co-branded esports tournaments annually for the Cavs utilizing its Esports Gaming League (“EGL”) platform.”

“’We are delighted to announce the Cavs as first NBA team partnership. Our robust tournament platform will help the Cavs strengthen connections with their fans, while providing new avenues for engagement,’ said Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group.”

“‘The growing popularity of esports provides a great opportunity for our team to create deeper connections and engagement with our fans,’ said Matt O’Brien, Cleveland Cavaliers vice president, global corporate partnerships.'”

Sony Patents Bitcoin Esports Gambling Platform

Bitcoin Magazine: “According to a report from Market Research Telecast, Japanese video game giant Sony Interactive Entertainment has recently published a patent filed in 2019 for an esports betting platform that would accept bitcoin wagers.”

“Wagers may be pecuniary, e.g., money or bitcoin, or may be non-pecuniary, e.g. game assets, digital rights, and virtual currency,” per the patent.

“The patent itself suggests a system in which viewers of live-streamed esports events, such as fighting game tournaments, could bet on the outcome of the matches while watching the action in real time,” Market Research Telecast reported. “The system would work through a user interface overlay that could appear in the broadcast so that the user can place their bets.”

IOC Organizes Virtual Esports Event Ahead of Olympics

Bloomberg: “Competitive videogames may have moved closer to becoming an official Olympics sport after the International Olympic Committee announced plans to hold a virtual esports event ahead of the Tokyo Games.”

“The Olympic Virtual Series will run from May 13 to June 23 and include events featuring baseball and racing videogames, according to a statementThursday. This will be the first licensed Olympic esports event, though not part of the Games itself.”

“Esports organizers have long called for the growing activity to be added to the Olympics. Even before the pandemic boosted the profile of videogames worldwide, IOC President Thomas Bach said esports could one day be considered for inclusion in the Olympics. Those aspirations got a boost when the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, decided to name esports as a full medal event. Revenue from the global esports market is forecast to top $1 billion this year, up almost 15% from 2020, according to data from market researcher Newzoo.”

Esports Stock Continues its Uphill Trajectory

Market Watch: “Shares of Esports Technologies Inc. ebet soared 36.5% in premarket trading Friday, adding to the 6-fold gain in the previous session, as investors continued to cheer the public debut of the Las Vegas-based online gambling company. The stock’s first trade Thursday morning was at $21.00, or 250% above the $6.00 a share initial public offering price, and it continued to climb in volatile trading to close at $36.42. At that closing price, the Esports’ market capitalization was about $460.7 million, compared with the market cap of $75.9 million at the IPO pricing.”Based on premarket trading Friday, the company is on track to open with a market cap above $600 million.”

“The frenzy for Esports shares occurred on a day that shares of Applovin Corp. app, with a valuation of $28.6 billion at the IPO price, closed 18.5% below its IPO price, and TuSimple Holdings Inc. tsp, valued at $8.5 billion at its IPO price, closed right at its IPO price. The Renaissance IPO ETF ipo rose 1.3% on Thursday while the S&P 500 spx gained 1.1%.”