March often marks a new beginning—not just by Mother Nature—but also in sports. In the U.S., March brings the excitement of the NCAA tournament, Spring Training for Major League Baseball, and the ever-tightening playoff races for the NBA.
The Mid Lane is a rundown of developments in the world of esports.
Growth, taxes and malls? An unconventional esports location is dominating the industry news this week. The latest news roundup indicates that all signs point to the continual progression of esports.
Last month in Paris, G2 Esports and FunPlus Phoenix competed in front of thousands of fans for the title of world champion, with millions more tuning in to live streams from around the globe. These teams did not compete on a soccer pitch, a basketball court, or a baseball diamond. Instead, they met on stage at Paris’ AccorHotels Arena, a venue more commonly associated with concerts than competitive sporting events. This event was no “ordinary” world championship; the teams in question participated in one of esports’ preeminent events, the League of Legends World Championship. Despite the title’s humble beginnings, Riot Games’ multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) offering has grown to levels of popularity historically associated with marquee conventional sports, and the World Championship is League’s crowning achievement.
Investments, acquisitions, more investments and more acquisitions make up the bulk of industry news this week, along with another sign of respect from sports-adjacent industries (hello Emmys!):
This latest news roundup is just another reminder that, as anchored in technology as esports may be, it ultimately involves many of the same issues faced by more established industries. Whether in regard to funding, corporate and franchising structures, employment contracts, real estate investment, cybersecurity concerns, or the challenge of embedding brand awareness deeper into the public consciousness, the business of esports is just that—business.
It’s sometimes hard to gauge the full impact something “new” will have on an industry over the long term as it transitions from “What in the world?!” to “But of course!” in the minds of the general public. For investors, owners and other participants in the relatively new arena of esports, though, the question of whether or when its popularity will surpass that of traditional leagues like the NFL and NBA is less important than ensuring their businesses and business models are sufficiently protected. Over on Pillsbury’s Policyholder Pulse blog, our own Kim Buffington explores the “traditional” insurance needs of the competitive gaming industry in “As Investment in Esports Grows, Insurance Coverage Must Keep Up.”
“For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things”
—Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
It’s an incredible time to be alive. The Digital Age has helped us reached levels of efficiency and connectivity that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. In his award-winning novel, Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, paints a picture of a not-so distant future where people spend the majority of their time experiencing life in the “Oasis,” a realistic virtual world where users interact with one another in amazing virtual environments that mimic reality in many ways, but where the rules of physics and nature are malleable, allowing the game publisher to create wildly entertaining games where virtually anything can happen. While we may not have the Oasis yet, today’s video games are rapidly evolving into similar immersive social platforms where users can play, compete and express themselves in settings that seem to be inevitably headed towards something that looks increasingly like Cline’s Oasis. One way that video game makers are able to make game backdrops more realistic and thus enrich the overall user experience is to incorporate real-world ideas and content to more closely emulate reality in the game. In response, an increasing number of intellectual property owners who object when their “property” gets incorporated into video games are bringing lawsuits that will help define the boundaries of intellectual property law in this new arena.
Fortnite is the most popular video game in the world. So popular that it was last year’s highest earning video game, grossing more than $2.4 billion in 2018 alone. So popular, in fact, that its fans successfully convinced Sony to reverse its longstanding policy against cross-platform gaming, thus allowing PlayStation Fortniters to play with their PC, mobile and other console-owning friends. Fortnite is also free.
What do videogames, cigarettes and slot machines have in common? They’re all addicting, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Since addiction and legal liability can sometimes go hand in hand, game designers (and app developers) would do well to pay attention whenever a new habit or hobby looks like it might be deemed harmful.
Cloning is the process of creating a video game that is significantly motivated or inspired by an existing popular video game or series. Developers have been cloning popular video games since the 1980s, including Tetris, Doom, Minecraft, Bejeweled and Flappy Bird. Often, game developers create clones in an attempt to confuse users and cash in on a game’s popularity.