In recent acquisition news, game publishing titan Activision Blizzard has purchased the veteran eSports organization, Major League Gaming (MLG), for a reported amount of $46 million (Source: eSports Observer).
Mike Sepso (Senior Vice President of eSports, Activision Blizzard) was one of the major influencers behind the acquisition, who also happened to be one of MLG’s original co-founders nearly fourteen years ago. Steve Bornstein (former CEO, ESPN) and Sundance DiGiovanni (current CEO, MLG) will also work alongside Sepso as they attempt to widen the appeal of eSports to gamers worldwide.
While the MLG brand will continue to operate as an independent entity, all of the organization’s branding and properties will become a part of the Activision Blizzard Media Networks (ABMN) division.
In regards to the reasoning behind the acquisition, Bobby Kotick (CEO, Activision Blizzard) went on to mention that the company envisions a plan to “create the ESPN of eSports”. As interest in eSports starts to rise exponentially, several other gaming organizations are devising plans to create online networks, channels, and events dedicated to watching professional gamers compete.
Other noteworthy organizations, such as the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) and Electronic Sports League (ESL), host annual eSports competitions for highly popular games. These events are broadcast online for viewers to stream, in addition to attending in-person. Like many of these organizations, Activision Blizzard is hoping to cash in on this lucrative business model, which will generate an estimated $465 million in revenue come 2017.
While gaining popularity among gamers, traditional entertainment outlets have recently shunned the synergistic idea of ‘video games’ and ‘competitive sports’. Analyst, Colin Cowherd, received backlash from the gaming community in April 2015, after expressing his opinion on an ESPN-televised Heroes of the Storm competition.
The phrase “If nobody hates you, you’re doing something wrong” holds true for the eSports industry. The backlash from mainstream entertainment and this recent acquisition justifies that eSports is here to stay.