Palm Beach, FL – March 5, 2021 – While esports may have once stood for a subset of sports culture, it has grown into a full industry in its own right. Esports and gaming have burst into the mainstream in recent years, transforming from a vibrant niche to a central form of entertainment around the world, and ticket sales are transitioning from the arena, to the internet. That shift has been powered by championing from mainstream celebrities and an increasing amount of coverage from traditional outlets like ESPN, and, at least in part, the breakneck rise of Fortnite. A report from Business Insider’s Insider Intelligence stated that: “As competitive video games continue to integrate into popular culture, global investors, brands, media outlets, and consumers are all paying attention. Total esports viewership is expected to grow at a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2019 and 2023, up from 454 million in 2019 to 646 million in 2023, per Insider Intelligence estimates. That puts the esports audience on pace to nearly double over a six-year period, as the 2017 audience stood at 335 million.” The pop-culturization of esports has helped power the explosions in esports investment and revenue. Esports has hit this stratosphere in large part because of the social component of live streaming and gaming. Video gaming-specific streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming give fans a direct connection to the players and teams, while more mainstream socials have allowed those connections to flourish. Certain esports organizations, like FaZe Clan, are also moving aggressively into areas like merchandise, lending their brands more notoriety than if they’d stuck to esports alone. Active tech companies in the markets this week include Versus Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: VS), Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: CZR), Penn National Gaming, Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN), Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ: GLUU), Super League Gaming, (NASDAQ: SLGG).
Rick Yang, partner at NEA — a venture capital firm that invests in esports — underscored this in a conversation with Insider Intelligence: “I actually think of esports as the mainstreaming of gaming, or the pop culture instantiation of gaming versus the pure idea of these players becoming professionals to compete at the highest levels.” It’s essential to think of the esports opportunity in this way — one inclusive of gaming, media, pop culture, and commerce — as it shines a light on opportunities beyond gaming events alone.
Versus Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: VS) BREAKING NEWS: Versus Systems Announces Strategic Partnership With Frias Agency – Versus to Work with the Agency Representing Constellation Brands, Corona, Crush + Canelo Alvarez & Matchroom Boxing – Versus Systems today announced a strategic partnership with full-service experiential marketing agency, Frias Agency (“Frias”), to power the technology behind interactive experiences for live events and digital activations.
Frias Agency clients include iconic beverage brands from Constellation Brands, such as Corona, Cerveza Modelo, Cerveza Pacifico, Crush, Kim Crawford, Meiomi, Blue Chair Bay, and Casa Noble. Frias also works with major athletes like Canelo Alvarez and sports promoters like Matchroom Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions. The Versus partnership with Frias expects to extend prizing into live sporting events starting Summer 2021 for soccer, boxing, wrestling and MMA, as well as live music festivals and tours.
“Versus is proud to announce another world-class partner to help us to bring our real-world prizing and rewards to global audiences,” said Matthew Pierce, CEO of Versus Systems. “We look forward to working with Frias and their partners to bring rewards to players and fans at some of the world’s most exciting live events, whether they’re at the venue, at home, or wherever they’re watching from.”
“We are thrilled to bring the unique experiences Versus Systems builds to our events,” said Andre Martelly, CEO of Frias. “The combination of Versus’ technology and our multi-national, multi-platform audience reach will produce mutual benefits for years to come.” Read this and more news for Versus Systems at: https://www.financialnewsmedia.com/news-vs/
In other gaming news:
Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: CZR) recently announced a strategic investment in the daily fantasy sports platform SuperDraft, Inc. The investment complements Caesars’ strong mobile sports and gaming network by adding an innovative Fantasy Sports platform, further strengthening its pipeline to customer acquisition and retention for both online and brick-and-mortar.
With the investment, Caesars takes an initial minority equity position with an option to increase its stake over time up to 100% at pre-determined levels. The partnership positions SuperDraft as an exciting new option and dominant force in the daily fantasy sports industry. “The addition of daily fantasy sports fits seamlessly with our strategic vision for mobile and online sports,” said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, Inc. “SuperDraft’s innovative multiplier game mode is unique in the marketplace, and we believe it offers a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our position in the sports gaming landscape.” Operating across seven professional sports in more than 35 states, SuperDraft features a unique game mode that attracts casual fans and experienced players alike. Multiplier Mode replaces the traditional fantasy team salary cap with a multiplier applied to each player allowing maximum flexibility in team building while creating more opportunities for everyone to win.
Penn National Gaming, Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) recently announced that it has entered into a 20-year strategic partnership with Capital Region Gaming, LLC d/b/a Rivers Casino & Resort that will provide Penn Interactive, a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn National, with “second skin” access to the New York mobile sports betting and iCasino market, subject to legislation being enacted and regulatory approvals.
“Gaining potential access to what could become one of the nation’s most lucrative sports betting markets has been a major priority for our Company,” said Jon Kaplowitz, Penn National’s Sr. Vice President of Interactive Gaming. “We are hopeful that the New York State Assembly will follow those leading revenue producing states that allow for multiple skins for mobile sports betting. A state the size of New York certainly warrants open competition and a free market approach,” said Mr. Kaplowitz. Penn Interactive currently offers online wagering on sports in two states – Pennsylvania and Michigan — and anticipates operating its Barstool Sports mobile sportsbook app in at least 10 states by the end of 2021. In addition, Penn Interactive launched its Barstool-branded iCasino in Michigan on February 1.
Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA), a global leader in interactive entertainment, and Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ: GLUU), a leading global developer and publisher of mobile games including Design Home, Covet Fashion, and MLB Tap Sports Baseball, have recently entered into a definitive agreement under which Electronic Arts will acquire Glu Mobile. Under the terms of the agreement, EA will acquire Glu for $2.1 billion in enterprise value. Glu stockholders will receive $12.50 in cash for each share of Glu stock, representing a 36% premium to Glu’s closing share price on February 5, 2021. Upon closing, the acquisition will be immediately accretive to Electronic Arts’ total net bookings, and is expected to grow underlying profitability beginning in its first year.
The acquisition will immediately add significant scale to Electronic Arts’ mobile games business. The combination of Electronic Arts and Glu creates a leading mobile product portfolio that includes more than 15 top live services across fast-growing genres with a combined $1.32 billion in bookings over the last twelve months. Bringing together the best-in-class mobile development teams at Glu and Electronic Arts’ mobile business, with a collective portfolio of powerful IP in sports, lifestyle, RPG, casual and other genres, and leveraging Electronic Arts’ marketing and distribution strength to generate global reach, the combined organization will build on EA’s network of 430 million players, including more than 100 million monthly active players in mobile, and expand to new audiences and demographics all over the world. “Our acquisition of Glu combines amazing teams and deeply-engaging products to create a mobile games leader with proven expertise across many fast-growing genres,” said Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts. “Mobile continues to grow as the biggest gaming platform in the world, and with the addition of Glu’s games and talent, we’re doubling the size of our mobile business. With a deep IP portfolio and an expanding global audience, we’ll deliver more exciting experiences for our players and drive further growth for Electronic Arts.”
Super League Gaming, (NASDAQ: SLGG), a global leader in competitive video gaming and in the creation of video game derived entertainment, and innovative esports community aggregator and media distributor, Harena Data, Inc., recently announced a robust new partnership to produce and distribute video gaming and esports entertainment and targeted community-driven experiences nationwide, amplified through global content distribution. The companies enjoyed a successful collaboration in October of 2020 in support of the Indiana Esports Combine. The Combine, developed by Harena Data, enabled 2,000 collegiate esports athletes to participate in video game competitions and dialogs with college esports coaches, scouts, and recruiters, resulting in nearly 50 new esports college scholarships for deserving students. Super League produced five, fully-remote, multi-hour esports live broadcasts over three days featuring many of the top players.
“We reached out to parties who we respected, not only from a professional aspect but from a position of their vision and commitment to the business of video gaming as a whole,” says Bill Dever, Chief Strategy Officer of Harena Data Inc. “We were more than pleased with the result and felt that both parties could benefit from each other’s strengths, and are grateful for this exciting partnership. Harena Data is one of the best kept secrets in video gaming and esports. They have an impressive set of initiatives dedicated to making esports and gameplay accessible to an ever-increasing global audience of players, fans, and viewers,” says Matt Edelman, Chief Commercial Officer of Super League Gaming. “Our capabilities are beyond complementary. We are thankful for the chance to demonstrate what we can accomplish together.”
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