esports tourney
Source: Getty

A 2020 eSports tournament in Leipzig, Germany

Skillz Is Taking Esports Public — Will Other Competitive Gaming Platforms Soon Follow?

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Dec. 18 2020, Published 11:08 a.m. ET

Esports, the world of competitive, organized mobile gaming, is a fast-growing phenomenon. Players and teams compete in popular video games such as Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Madden. Streaming services enable millions of fans worldwide to tune in live for these competitions. 

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Skillz is a leader among mobile gaming platforms and is going public this week on the NYSE under symbol SKLZ. The IPO has come about through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC. Skillz is now the first publicly-traded esports platform. 

what is esports
Source: getty images
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When did esports start?

ISPO.com said that the first multiplayer game involving computers, “Tennis for Two,” was first introduced in 1958.

October 19, 1972 is a momentous date in esports: Stanford University’s Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence organized the first esports tournament, with 24 players competing in “Spacewar!” for the prize of a Rolling Stones magazine subscription.

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Other key milestones in the esports world include the development of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first gaming console that connected to a television. Major games and machines to come about during the ensuing years were Asteroids, Starfire, and Atari. 

When did esports become popular?

In 1972, a Space Invaders championship had 10,000 participants. By 1998, a Starcraft 2 tournament on PC had 50 million online viewers, according to Learning Hub.

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A 2018 market analytics report from NewZoo found that 380 million people would watch esports that year (via CNN). That’s including 165 million esports “enthusiasts,” or frequent viewers.

 BusinessWire reported that the mobile gaming market is expected to reach $150 billion total by 2025.

How esports organizations make money

NewZoo’s data show that esports organizations make the bulk of their money through sponsorships and advertising. HotSpawn explains “Brands in every sector from fast food to athletics apparel are involved in esports.”

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Skillz hosts eSports tournaments every year and gives out millions of dollars in prize money every month. Live streaming services like Twitch provide the opportunity for fans worldwide to watch their favorite players and teams compete in real-time.

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How to invest in esports

Interested investors may invest through the NYSE in Skillz (SKLZ). There is also the potential for involvement through streaming platforms such as Amazon’s Twitch.

Investors may also invest in gaming companies such as Activision Blizzard, Tencent Holdings, Take-Two Interactive, and Electronic Arts. These often hold major game franchises which are essential to the esports market.

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What are the best esports stocks?

 Exchange traded funds, or ETFs, that include video game companies, are a good way to start investing in esports stocks. ETFMG Video Game Tech ETF is one such company, traded on the NYSE as GAMR. 

The esports market is fairly young and may be somewhat risky for investors, but there are some top esports-related stocks to consider investing in.

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) is based in California and owns the rights to games like Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, and Skylanders. 

 Tencent Holdings (OTC:TCEHY) is a China-based tech stock and a “great means of investing in the overall momentum of video games and esports.” Its games include League of Legends and Fortnite.

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) often makes tournaments available to all players, not only professional leagues. It includes gaming franchises such as Madden NFL, FIFA, and Star Wars. 

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