Currently, esports tournament venues sit quiet. Participation for in-person esports activities has plummeted, with coronavirus risks and stay-at-home orders driving most gamers, organizers and publishers to compete online. Despite the shift in player activity to online, investment in esports facilities has become a growing trend across global markets.
Headlining this trend is Vindex, an esports investment firm founded by Major League Gaming founders Mike Sepso and Sundance DiGiovanni. Last month, Vindex acquired Belong Gaming Arenas and promised to invest another $300 million into building esports centers for amateurs across the US. In Berlin, after raising $10 million from BitKraft Esports Ventures in March, Veritas Entertainment launched a 26,000 square foot esports venue for community gaming, and as the official home of G2 Esports. It’s one of the largest esports spaces in all of Europe.
Meanwhile, in the US, Simplicity Esports has agreed to purchase four esports centers in Florida and operate them through its Play Live Nation subsidiary. Finally, in Scotland, development firm Northern Lights Arena Europe is working on a 4,000-seat esports arena in partnership with Abertay University and Dundee & Agnus College. Not only will the venue support esports events, but the plan is to generate an esports academy and higher education programs around the esports industry.
While esports investments from musical celebrities like Post Malone and sports stars like Ben Simmons grab the biggest headlines, investments in physical locations are supplying the infrastructure for esports. Moreover, despite current COVID-related sensitivities around in-person gatherings, this trend reflects investor confidence in esports’ longer-term promise. There’s an understanding that live play in packed arenas will always be vital to the esports ecosystem. Investors recognize that the ticket sales, merchandising, and sponsor opportunities that come with physical venues will continue to drive a significant share of global esports revenue.
Interpret is continuing to track the growing investment into physical esports locations as part of our Esports Replay® trends and insights product, launching soon.