Microsoft stores to host League of Legends tournaments

Late last month Microsoft announced that it will turn its physical stores into esports gaming arenas.  The move intends to bring players into its stores and will likely help enhance retail.

Partnering with ASUS Republic of Gamers and HyperX, it will host weekly League of Legends events across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia.

Via Microsoft

Touted as ROG Arena, players of all levels will get a chance to play League Unlocked, a premium experience for official League of Legends partners and live events.

The move acknowledges the popularity of esports and hopes to capitalize on bringing together a community of players.  Obviously, having these tournaments in the Microsoft store provides retail opportunities for the company.  An interesting idea that will likely foster a relationship between the company and the burgeoning rise of esports across the world.

Twitch announces plan for users to earn money

Live video gaming site Twitch revealed new ways for its users to monetize through the use of its site.

On Wednesday, it announced 20 new extensions to help content creators increase engagement and interaction.  “Twitch Extensions” allows users to customize their channel pages with interactive features, including polls, leaderboards, tickers, interactive game information, virtual pets among other things.  While the extensions will facilitate engagement, it will also help streamers generate additional revenue.

An extension called “Gear on Amazon” lets Twitch creators show off their favorite Amazon products.  Similar to clicking through an Amazon Associates web site, if a viewer makes a purchase through the site, the creator will earn a commission. Even though Amazon.com owns Twitch, it’s the first time that the site users have been invited to join the program.

In addition, Twitch is opening up the extension platform broadly to third-party developers.

The move is another sign of the continued monetization of esports.  While Twitch is expanding into to other areas, gaming is at its core and utilizing the popularity to incentivize its most popular users to help the company sell product makes sense.  We will see how many Twitch users hop aboard.

NFL partners with EA for Madden foray into esports

The NFL is the latest to dive into esports with a partnership with EA Sports to create a nationwide “Madden NFL 18” tournament.  The Club Championship will begin with local tournaments in each of the 32 team league markets with a representative from each team getting a chance to represent the team in the championship rounds.

The individual teams will wet up the tournaments and they may be hosted at NFL stadiums and other team facilities.  The championship-round events will take place at the Pro Bowl in Orlando and Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

The move brings the NFL into esports.  Although it is not the same as the NBA’s formation of an eleague with Take-Two Interactive, it is a push toward involving its video game with fans.  Notably, only 17 NBA teams are participating in the initiative which starts this fall.  But all 32 NFL teams will be participating in Madden.

There were no financial terms on the creation of the Madden NFL Club Championship.  Although there was no announcement on a broadcast or streaming deal which would air the tournament, you might expect one occurring in the near future.

ESPN had aired previous tournaments involving EA Sports’ Madden series.

The move reflects the growing market for esports and leagues attempting to jump on the bandwagon to engage fans and eventually monetize.

eSports to receive consideration for 2024 Olympics

The Washington Post reports that Paris is considering the inclusion of eSports in its 2024 Olympic program.  The inclusion of video gaming is a sign of legitimacy for a sport that is growing more and more each year.

According to a report by Fortune, fans are expected to reach 145 million people in 2017.  The Asian Games will debut eSports as an exhibition event in 2018 and add it officially in 2022.  eSports is set to appear at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games next month.  Four games will be featured next year:  Dota 2, StarCraft II, Hearthstone and a sports game.

Last week, Dota 2, held its annual event at the KeyArena in Seattle.  The tournament offered $25 million in prize money and fans flocked to watch on the big screens inside the Arena as well as those set up around the concourses.

Undeniably, eSports is a big business with massive opportunities for game developers, creators and, of course, players.  It will be interesting to see how receptive eSports will be for an Olympic committee which has excluded baseball in the past.

FTC to block DFS company merger

A proposed merger between DraftKings, Inc. and FanDuel, Inc. will be challenged by the Federal Trade Commission.  The FTC claims that the merger would create a company that controls more than 90 percent of the market.

In the past rivals, the companies decided to join forces in November 2016 as each fought state regulators to get Daily Fantasy Sports legalized.  According to data from Eilers and Krejcik Gaming, the two companies have 95 percent of daily fantasy sports.

The FTC will file a lawsuit requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent the companies from closing the deal while it proceeds with an internal review to determine if the merger is legal under antitrust law.

Nevada law establishes esports betting in state

A new Nevada law signed by the Governor late last month clarified the legality on esports betting.  The new bill allows parimutuel esports betting within the state.

The new law amends language to ensure that “other events” are included in parimutuel wagering.  The gaming laws and parimutuel laws are different in Nevada and thus the law sought to clarify the legality of betting on esports.

The move is another sign that Vegas wants to be the hub of esports.  Some Vegas hotels are converting some of its space to host esports gaming tournaments.  The lure is to bring in the younger demo with hopes of it spilling into their casinos.  The new bill grants the chance for a broader opportunity to bet on esports.

GAME Act seeks to legalize sports gambling

A new bill seeking to repeal the current ban on sports gaming was introduced into Congress on Thursday.

The bill is a likely response to the U.S. Solicitor General’s recommendation that the U.S. Supreme Court not take the sports gambling cases litigated in New Jerseys.

The Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act or GAME Act was introduced on Thursday per an ESPN report.  The GAME Act would repeal PAPSA, the much-litigated federal legislation which prohibits sports gambling.

The GAME Act defines a bet or wager as “the risking of something of value including virtual currency or virtual items, upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event or a game of skill or a game of chance, on the expectation that the person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”  This includes daily fantasy sports.

The Act, according to the drafter of the bill, is an opportunity to update the gambling laws.

Live eSports coming to Facebook

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook will pay eSports teams and others related to the industry to post videos on the social network platform.

The news comes at about the same time that Major League Baseball aired its first game on Facebook without regional blackouts.  The move is a new strategy for Facbook as it is bringing live content to the platform.

The eSports and MLB deals join Facebook’s deal in March with Major League Soccer to air its games.

No financial terms were disclosed although terms revealed state that “esports partners must produce a minimum number of hours of video” for Facebook.  But, most can publish to rival platform Twitch, which is owned by Amazon.com.

The new deal hopes to develop a new “ecosystem”  Facebook.  For esports teams, Facebook exposure should help teams with marketing and generating ad revenue.

17 NBA teams to participate in NBA 2K League

The NBA announced that 17 of the 30 teams will participate in the forthcoming NBA 2K League coming in 2018.

The league is a joint project with the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software.  The NBA teams that are participating have agreed to a three year deal where each team will pay on average $250,000 per year.

The upcoming eLeague will be the first time one of the major sports leagues have directly collaborated to establish an eLeague of its own.

The investment in eSports shows the growing reach of the gaming community as well as the recognition that the sport will attract a younger demographic.

With the NBA involvement, it is likely that we’ll see more leagues collaborating with video game makers.

Twitter announces new live streaming sports deals

Twitter announced a number of new live streaming sports deals including the WNBA, PGA, MLB and collegiate games. The company lost out on a deal for Thursday Night NFL games to Amazon.com and is bolstering its efforts with more live streaming and content.  Amazon.com paid 10 times the amount that Twitter paid last year.

The company announced original content deals along with the live streaming at a Digital Content NewFronts Presentation.

The strategy seeks to bring more revenue to the company which is looking to monetize its platform.

The live streaming deals bring up the issue of the enforcement of the copyright as with those using Periscope to freely air sports content.  While this might be an ancillary issue at this time, with upgrades to technology this will come into question later down the road.