Activision Blizzard Releases About 50 Employees

Venture Beat: “Activision Blizzard has let go of about 50 employees in its esports division, as the Sports Business Journal first reported.”

“The publisher blames the decision on the impact the pandemic has had on live events. Activision Blizzard had invested heavily in on-stage esports shows with crowds, including with the Overwatch League, which had Blizzard selling a premium for the right to own a team. COVID-19 forced Blizzard to move its competitive events to online only affairs.”

“The spokesperson also noted that live events will still be a part of Overwatch League and Call of Duty League’s future, once they are safe to do so.”

Evo Esports Bought by Sony

Engadget: “In a joint agreement with a company called RTS, Sony has bought the Evolution Championship Series, one of the oldest and longest-running esports tournaments in the world. Sony didn’t disclose the terms of the deal but did note it will operate the organization with help from RTS, which is an offshoot of talent management agency Endeavor.”

Close to 90% of Esports Scholarships go to Men

AP News: “Colleges and universities rushing to invest in the booming arena of varsity esports are overwhelmingly committing opportunities and scholarships to male players, according to data collected by The Associated Press.”

“Male gamers held 90.4% of roster spots and received 88.5% of scholarship funds in a sample of 27 public American schools surveyed by the AP during this school year. The glaring gender disparity exists even though 41% of U.S. gamers are female, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and in a realm where — unlike traditional sports — there are no physical barriers separating male and female competitors.”

“The AP’s data set covers only a small sample of the landscape. But the overwhelming results confirm what esports coaches, players and experts have identified on their own as a problem since the first varsity program launched in 2014:

As esports are carving out their place on college campuses — and doing so without a central governing body, such as the NCAA — little is being done to ensure resources are spread equally along gender lines.”

“Provide Customers Two Things They Love: Videogames and Gambling”

Market Watch: “Shares of Esports Entertainment Group Inc. soared Thursday toward a more than three-year high, after Citron Research said GameStop Corp. should buy the online gambling company to provide customers two things they love: videogames and gambling.”

“What we learn from the past 4 months in GME are 2 easy takeaways: People love video games and people love to gamble,” Citron said in a research note. “So now, in order for GME to … maintain a high share price … they must change their narrative NOW.”

“GameStop shares were back in vogue, shooting up 57.0% in morning trading, after skyrocketing 103.9% on Wednesday. Prior to the rally, the stock had closed Tuesday at $44.97, or 87.1% below its Jan. 27 record close of $347.51.”

“There is one way for [GameStop] to seamlessly both pivot away from its secularly declining retail business and monetize its customer database, and that answer is to acquire Esports Entertainment Group.”

$550 Million Spaceship-Like Esports Venue Being Built in Toronto

Complex: “The 6ix might be in for an eSports makeover as plans to build a 7,000-seat arena and hotel complex in downtown Toronto at $550 million were announced on Monday. “

“The arena, which in renderings resembles a gigantic spaceship, will mainly be used for entertainment shows and hosting live eSports matches.”

“The arena is expected to be completed in 2025 and would host over 200 events a year. While the arena will be mainly targeted for eSports matches, OverActive Media plans on hosting a range of events including music performances, award shows, conventions, concerts, and competitions.”

Work Begins on New $1.5bn Esports Venue

GCR: “Chinese property company SuperGen Group has broken ground on an esports complex in Shanghai with a total project value of $1.5bn.”

“The Shanghai International Culture and Creative Esports Centre will be located in a 50ha industrial park in the Minhang District in the south of the city. The plan is to build a 6,000-seat arena that will host around 300 competitive matches a year.”

“The project will also include a five-star video-game-themed hotel, a breakdancing facility, an indoor skydiving venue and a corporate headquarters for Edward Gaming (EDG), the subsidiary of SuperGen that is developing the park.”

Fifa 21, Madden 21 Added to KHSAA Approved Esports Games

Courier Journal: “The Kentucky High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that it will expand its esports varsity title offerings to include FIFA 21 and Madden NFL 21 for the upcoming spring season. Previously, League of Legends, Rocket League and SMITE were the three sanctioned games in esports.”

“We are excited to expand our esports offerings to include more opportunities for student-athletes to participate,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said in a statement. “Our membership has been quick to accept esports as our most recent sanctioned sport-activity, and we look forward to seeing its participation continue to grow.”

TSM Tops Most Valuable Esports Companies 2020, Value of $410 Million

Forbes: “That bravado has been tamed. The average value of the top ten teams flatlined at $240 million in 2020, following a 54% rise in 2019, according to our exclusive annual ranking of the most valuable esports companies. Industry-wide revenue, which was expected to jump 16% to $1.1 billion in 2020, instead fell $150 million after the pandemic canceled most live events, according to industry research group Newzoo. A lack of stadium-packing tournaments had knock-on effects on merchandise sales, as well as forfeited media rights and sponsorships.”

“Topping the list: Los Angeles-based TSM (formerly Team SoloMid), with a value of $410 million. The company added to its seven-time North American champion League of Legends team by acquiring Blitz last year. The ad-supported app, which has 10 million active monthly users and offers playing analysis and training sessions, now accounts for half of the company’s $45 million in revenue. In second on this year’s list is Cloud 9, another LA-based company that is valued at $350 million, down 13% from 2019.”

“Valued at $190 million, 100 Thieves jumps to the fifth spot on our list, from No. 10 in 2019. The company, founded by former Call of Duty champion Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, 28, expects to make $16 million in revenue this year, a leap of 60%. Most of the company’s revenue has occurred outside of competitive play.”

Microsoft Acquires Smash.gg

Esports Insider: “Technology giant Microsoft has acquired self-service esports tournament platform Smash.gg for an undisclosed amount.”

“Esports Insider confirmed the acquisition of Smash.gg with a representative from Microsoft’s public relations agency, who added that the company is looking to ‘expand their offerings’ and that the tournament platform ‘provides a key piece in that journey to innovate and accelerate their content offerings.'”

“A statement from Smash.gg also read: ‘With this acquisition, the Smash.gg community and tournament organisers will continue to benefit from the Smash.gg platform, while our team will now benefit from additional resources and support as part of the Microsoft Content Services team.'”

$14 Million Prize Pool for PUBG Mobile Esports in 2021

Dot Esports: “James Yang, the director of PUBG Mobile global esports at Tencent, revealed the prize pool for the game’s esports scene in 2021 during the first day of the Global Championship (PMGC) today. PUBG Mobile esports will feature a humongous prize pool of $14 million.”

“This is a substantial increase from 2020. This year, the total prize pool for all competitions was $5 million.”