A tweet from Adam Adamou, co-founder of OverActive Media lived without rent in my head all week. He sees three esports centers taking shape in North America, and one of them is in Toronto. With OverActive hosting Majors for Call of Duty and Overwatch this year, I can understand his point. -Jason Wilson
A return to live esports events recently saw Ford representatives take to the field for the first time at a Rocket League Championship Series. Auto brand executives traveled to Texas to not only get the chance to showcase the Bronco Raptor 1 Edition, but also get valuable insights into building community at a competition high level.
At the event at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Ford showed off its premium SUV model to attendees (the model was also featured in-game). The brand also did a broadcast segment with Ford influencers. “He was bigger and had a higher energy level than I would have thought,” Ford marketing manager Sarah Brewer told the Sports Business Journal. “I had the misconception that it would be a quieter, calmer group (than traditional sports fans). It was the same as any big sporting event.
Ford has been a sponsor of Psyonix, the game’s publisher, since 2019. Brewer said Ford is interested in deeper partnerships with racing games, going beyond simulation racing (something a game unique automobile like Rocket League can provide). The F-150 was Rocket League’s first production car model.
Brewer noted the importance of the community that came with the RLCS. She saw internet friends meeting in person for the first time, mingling with gamers and others. Brewer says such a connection is something Ford wants to be a part of and is part of community-building projects like its “Off-Roadeo” initiative.
“Ford is a brand, and as much as it’s about products, we also want to deliver experiences, like the Off-Roadeo,” she said. “We want to be the mark of a welcoming community, how to present yourself in a community that adds value. There’s nothing quite like seeing our products in person. The Off-Roadeo effort shows owners how to take advantage of the Bronco’s off-road capabilities. Ford operates four Off-Roadeos across the country (Grey Horse Ranch in Horseshoe Bay, Texas; Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, Utah; Mt. Potosi in Las Vegas; and Gunstock Mountain in Gilford, NH). — Jason Wilson
Competitive gaming has been the dominance of 2D animated pixels to date, but game maker Aexlab, with its title Vail, is here to show that the VR space is ripe for esports competition. “I know people have been saying this for decades, but I really think [VR gaming] about to explode,” said Jonathan Ovadia, CEO and Founder of Aexlab.
Ovadia isn’t alone in being optimistic about the possibilities. Aexlab has been able to raise over $12 million since March 2021 through crowdfunding and other ventures, including a $5 million raise on a $100 million capped convertible note from investors such as Valor Equity Partners, Dacra, Subversive Capital, Hartmann Capital and Fuel Venture Capital. The money allowed Aexlab to expand its team and make Vail a viable esports title.
“The virtual reality esports ecosystem is my #1 priority right now,” Ovadia said. “Our philosophy is that if we can create a game that competitive gamers can feel confident in by investing thousands of hours, sponsors can invest money in the net code.”
Vail, now in its testing phase on Steam, already has a $35,000 tournament that has 195 teams competing. Right now, teams are vying for a chance to attend the Miami Vail Major LAN Finals on October 1st. “In the world of virtual reality, it’s a huge deal. It’s a rebirth” — Kevin Hitt
Esports teams are making their way into celebrity boxing matches. The latest is FaZe Clan co-founder and CEO FaZe Temperr, who fought Slim Albaher at the “KSI: 2 Fights, 1 Night” event on Saturday in London. Albaher knocked out Temperr in the second round.
This isn’t Temperr’s first fight. He beat King Kenny by decision in March in a Showstar Boxing event, which was noticed for a Temperr win days after the fight.
Gaming and entertainment influencers flock to the best boxing cards. Jake Paul, KSI and Temperr are well-suited for such fights, which feature relentless media coverage of training regimens and soundbites full of boastfulness and bravado.
The KSI event, broadcast by DAZN, had 20,000 live viewers and an unknown pay-per-view audience, according to a FaZe Clan spokesperson. Ghost Energy made an appearance as a personal sponsorship of Temperr. — Hunter Cooke
- The Rangers host an OpTic game night when the Angels visit Globe Life Field on Sept. 20. OpTic’s Call of Duty League CEO Hector “Hecz” Rodriguez and Seth “Scump” Abner throw out the first pitch. A special package includes an OpTic-branded Texas Rangers jersey and autograph signing with Hecz and Scump.
- The new home of Cleveland State University Esports is the home of the Cavs Legion Gaming Club, the Cavaliers’ NBA 2K League affiliate.
- Sony has announced a new breakthrough in mobile gaming with its PlayStation Studios mobile division, which will operate independently of the console business. It also said it acquired Savage Games Studios, a mobile development house that has yet to make games.
- Tencent and Sony now own a 30% stake in FromSoftware’s parent company. FromSoftware’s Elden Ring title is the game’s biggest hit so far this year.
- Wisdom Gaming is hosting a college eve party for the League of Legends playoffs on September 10 and 11. One of the ideas behind Wisdom’s new studio in the Mall of America is to host community events like this.
- Riot Games has announced the cast of the “Ruination” audiobook, featuring numerous voice actors from League of Legends. Misty Lee (Kalista), Mark Oliver (Thresh), and Sean J. Teale (Viego) reprise their roles in the game. The book debuts September 13, showing how Riot continues to evolve from a gaming juggernaut to a multimedia company.
- Esports competition platform Faceit has taken a few steps this week, partnering with software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform Infosum and Team Vitality to launch new gaming initiatives, including a hub for French Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players.
- Retired star Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert, ESL Pro League commissioner Alex Inglot and Fnatic director of games Patrik Sättermon reflect on CS:GO’s 10th anniversary.