Activision Blizzard, the studio behind video game mega hits such as Call of Duty, Warcraft and Starcraft recently announced it had acquired Major League Gaming and has big plans for the large eSports league.
Activision Blizzard Acquires the Business of Major League Gaming https://t.co/XoPxlHM9bk
— Activision (ACTI) PR (@ACTI_PR) January 4, 2016
Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said in a press release he wants to create premium content across broadcast platforms and make Major League Gaming the ESPN of eSports.
“Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of esports. MLG’s ability to create premium content, its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities – strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming. MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming. We are excited to add Sundance and the entire MLG esports team to our competitive gaming initiatives.”
Adding some fresh blood will certainly help, but that’s a huge task to undertake. MLG has struggled in recent years with the boom in eSports and built a significant amount of debt. Most of the $46 million used to purchase MLG will be used to pay off MLG’s remaining debts, with little going to stakeholders thanks to a legal loophole in Delaware General Corporation Law, according to the eSports observer. Activision Blizzard will also continue to operate MLG.tv, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles.
While Activision Blizzard’s plans include much more platforms than just television, bringing eSports to the small screen has yielded mixed results in the past. Part of what makes gaming so fun, even when watching them, is having the online interactions and watching TV seems to take away from that.
Activision Blizzard has really worked hard on expanding their offerings over the last year. They announced in November of plans to create a movie and television studio and to bring some of their video game properties to life. The company is also producing a Warcraft movie directed by Duncan Jones with Legendary Pictures and Atlas Entertainment which is due for release this Summer.
They aren’t the only company trying to make headway with putting eSports on TV, as this news comes on the heels of Turner Sports announcing in September they were creating their own competitive eSports gaming league after cutting a deal with Valve to bring Counter Strike: Global Offensive to TV screens. EA also created a “Competitive Gaming Division,” which will attempt to bring EA games like FIFA, Madden and Battlefield to competitive gaming.
Now you may wonder why so many major players are making bids to make eSports more accessible, and the answer is because people from around the globe have become enthralled watching it, with ESPN reporting 205 million people watched or played eSports in 2014 – with that number likely growing last year. ESPN themselves announced in September they were hiring an eSports editor (they eventually hired Darin Kwilinski, formerly of Azubu) and seem to have one foot in the water with launching an eSports division themselves as their competitors keep building more real estate in the market.