This week in esports: big news in FIFA, skin betting remains rife and esports eclipses ice hockey

14 October 2016


Another frantic week of esports news is over and done with. This week saw intriguing moves in an esport that seems tiny compared to some of its counterparts.

With six La Liga teams involved in setting up the ‘Virtual Football Organisation’ (“VFO”), FIFA president Gianni Infantino outlining his intentions to be more involved in esports it’s been a busy week for EA Sports and those who avidly follow the FIFA esports scene.

Additionally, Newzoo’s latest report finds that male millennials consume more esports than ice hockey. To round it all off, it unsurprisingly transpires that unregulated and often under-age skin betting is still rife in the industry.

Newzoo finds male millennials watch as much esports as they do baseball

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-4-55-42-pm A fascinating report published by Newzoo this week shows the undeniable growth of esports – certainly amongst the millennial group. The figures may surprise many as the viewership comfortably eclipses that of ice hockey and is on par with baseball.

The report follows a spate of huge investment from the traditional sports stratosphere. It’s clear with such a hike in viewing figures that non-endemic brands to the esports industry can target the millennial demographic through esports.

Pieter van de Heuvel, Head of Esports at Newzoo, said: “The huge interest in esports from sports celebrities, clubs, media companies, and brands alike illustrate how games are leading the media and entertainment business towards a new future that has more in common with games than not. Games bring innovation in tech and consumer business models, and have a unique ability to engage with and actively involve the younger generations.

More skin betting drama is likely around the corner

If Will Green October scorecard release on skin betting sights, it looks likely that an unwanted spotlight will soon return to major game developer Valve.

The scorecard (Originally published by EBSR: here) outlines that there are likely to be over a hundred operators in the space offering a range of gambling products ranging from roulette to traditional sportsbook but using skins (or a virtual currency readily convertible to skins) as their currency.

Additionally, it highlights that many of the companies that were issued cease-and-desist orders are still operating. Few have chosen to not operate in the US but still operate in other countries and others still have their website accessible through the US. The checks on age and location are still basically non-existent leading to increasing pressure on Valve to act before a regulator steps in.

With the Washington State Gambling Commission instructing Valve to explain how it has not violated Washington state laws by owning and operating Steam, the game developer are certainly facing regulatory pressure. Should Valve’s answer prove unsatisfactory – which it may well do – it risks facing criminal charges and seizure of property.

Gianni Infantino and six La Liga teams get involved

vfoSevilla, Villarreal CF, Real Aviles C.F., Real Sociedad, Real Zaragoza, and Real Sporting de Gijón are the six La Liga teams that have announced they will be founding members of the Virtual Football Organisation (“VFO”). The VFO veers away from ‘traditional’ FIFA, with the games being played in the games ‘Pro Club’ mode – therefore making each match an eleven versus eleven spectacle rather than the traditional head to head format.

It’s an interesting move as often people find traditional FIFA uninspiring as a viewing spectacle and thus the esport has struggled to reach the lofty heights that other titles have managed. With eleven players facing off against eleven it could bring a certain organised chaos to the title that it has otherwise been lacking.

In other interesting news – Gianni Infantino has hinted that he wants FIFA – the organisation – to expand its presence in the esports scene. The rise of esports has been impossible to ignore, and FIWC, the flagship tournament looks set to grow substantially in prize money this year.

Infantino stated: “As the world of gaming expands, FIFA has a tremendous opportunity to mimic the production of global events on the pitch with enhanced production of virtual FIFA competitions. To investigate the benefits and feasibility of expanding FIFA’s engagement in esports, FIFA will commission a working group to consider its forward-looking strategy.”

Esports Insider: It’s been another busy news week in the esports world with more big hitters entering the scene. The continuous rumbling of the skin betting industry is an ongoing concern for the industry as a whole and it could be a busy few weeks for Valve as they may find themselves coming under pressure from multiple avenues.