More news in the world of Esports has emerged since my last post about professional gaming. The NBA franchise, the Miami Heat purchased a significant stake in the Esports organization, the Misfits on January 10th. The Heat also announced a partnership along with this deal, in which the basketball franchise will “cross-promote” both organizations. The team tweeted a picture of both the Miami Heat’s logo and the Misfits’ new logo side by side. The Esports team changed their logo to match the color of the Heat’s logo, further promoting the partnership. The basketball team’s CEO, Nick Arison made an official statement praising the Misfit’s organization. Arison called the Esports team “young and ambitious” and envisions them “blazing the trail” for competitive gaming in the 21st century.
But this type of partnership isn’t the first in the world of traditional sports. In September, the Philadelphia 76ers ownership group bought a majority share in Team Dignitas and Apex gaming. There has been a variety of other NBA investments in the Esports community in the past few years as well. Even Major League Baseball has taken part in this new trend and announced a $300 million long-term partnership with Riot Games. This deal was struck through MLB’s media subsidiary, BAMtech, as a way to expand Riot Games’ media platforms and content streaming. BAMtech will pay a minimum of $300 million for the rights to stream and monetize Riot’s most popular game, League of Legends.
This upward trend in investment in the Esports industry points toward a change in the presence of video gaming in the business world. These investments from NBA and MLB companies are giving validity to the brand of competitive gaming. It wasn’t too long ago that video games were strictly seen as a hobby for a certain demographic. But now the Esports world has gained traction with the influx of funding and investment. More money surrounding the profession of competitive gaming will have a significant change in the way the sport functions. If the industry continues to grow there will be a point where Esports players will be paid more and receive more support from their team. This change will create a huge financial divide between professional players and the players who haven’t quite made the cut. It will be at this point where Esports truly mirrors its traditional counterparts.