Esports, the term denoting professional competitive gaming, has been around for far longer than even its most passionate fans realize. The first-ever tournament was held in 1972 at Stanford University, where the players battled it out in a game called SpaceWar for a one-year subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. While esports has always had a devoted fanbase, it remained a niche phenomenon until the early 2000s, when the launch of gaming consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox radically altered the landscape. Nowadays, this has become a huge business, with hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide and proceeds that are on track to cross into billion-dollar territory. According to gaming sector-focused research group Newzoo, 2019 is poised to become a landmark year for esports, with revenues surging by 26.7% on an annual basis to reach $1.1 billion and global viewership numbers exceeding 453 million. The industry’s explosive growth and phenomenal popularity over the last decade have caught the attention not only of traditional investors but also of colleges and universities, whose campuses have produced some of the world’s best-known athletes. These institutions are now embracing esports, recognizing its value for attracting talent, earning recognition, and even profiting, comments prominent financier Jason Sugarman.
The formation of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) in 2016 was a clear sign that educational establishments were eager to capitalize on the massive potential of esports. By investing in scholarships for talented players, colleges and universities are aiming to attract students capable of high academic achievement. Importantly, esports has been traditionally linked to young people with an aptitude in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. There is a severe shortage of STEM specialists in the workforce, and many governments around the world have made it a priority to raise interest in these subjects among young learners. Through their involvement with esports, higher education institutions are seeking to attract applicants whose talents will one day command a premium in the workplace. NACE esports director Layne Shirley agrees, saying in an interview, “One reason people are making esports into a varsity program is because it’s an enrollment driver, and a lot of these students are interested in STEM fields and computer science.”
Apart from securing an edge in the battle for quality students, colleges and universities are investing in esports as a way to raise their profiles and gain recognition, Jason Sugarman notes. Given the massive audience and the international reach of competitive gaming, educational institutions have the opportunity to promote their brands and build awareness, especially in the case of smaller establishments of more modest means. Compared to other collegiate programs, esports costs significantly less, but the potential payoff is enormous in terms of brand recognition. Importantly, educational institutions thus create a virtuous circle since the attention their garner through their gaming teams helps them attract quality students.
Jason Sugarman has established himself as a financial industry expert with a stellar track record in the fields of asset-based lending, private equity, and debt investment. A professional with more than 20 years of experience, he has worked on financial services, infrastructure, and real estate projects around the world. Since February 2007, he has been running a family office in Beverly Hills, California. Jason Sugarman holds a BA in economics from Stanford University.
Jason Sugarman – LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonsugarman/
Published on Yahoo Finance
July 19, 2019