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Sports & Entertainment Innovation Firm, RIISE Ventures Levels Up With Strategic Investment in Georgia’s Largest Esports & Gaming Center: Axis Replay

Zoltan Tundik

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Background Photo by Eduardo Romero from Pexels
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

As Esports silently continues to grow as the fastest global sport in the world with projections to reach $1.5B by 2020Atlanta-based, RIISE Ventures decides to “get in the game” with its first esports investment in Axis Replay–a premier entertainment and event facility for video games and esports. Together, RIISE and Axis Replay will curate some of the most unique gaming experiences the country has to offer.

RIISE Ventures curates experiences by leveraging major sports, entertainment, and technology events [and venues]. Their proprietary Innovation Is A Sport ™ process helps to advise partners and consult corporate brands on how to stimulate ideas, attract and retain talent and invest capital into growth industries companies.

‘The Godfather of Angel Investing’ and RIISE partner, Sig Mosley, has been privy to the potential of technology long before it reared its head into the world of Esports. As the most prolific investor in the southeast, Mosley is confident that this contribution to Axis Replay and the gaming industry will prove to provide an immediate impact. “It’s important that we stay abreast of the latest insights and trends while investing capital into talented individuals and companies with amazing ideas,” Mosley says, “Esports is an emerging industry and I’m very optimistic about its growth trajectory.”

Axis Replay CEO Allie Young saw the potential for Esports as a commodity early on in its development. With Atlanta being one of the ‘Top 3 Best Cities for Gamers in the US’ according to WalletHub, and a melting pot of millennial energy, Young felt that it was important to provide gamers a community-driven atmosphere to encourage the industry’s growth. “With the growth in Esports and gaming, investing into the infrastructure that will house, train, and develop digital athletes is something that wise investors will seek. Here at Axis Replay, we’re incredibly blessed to have the backing of such a strong network this early in the game. It’s a testimony to the strength of our concept,” Young explains, “When both gamers and supporters like Sig Mosley put their names behind something, we know we have something extremely special.” Having previously owned her own media and marketing company, Young founded Axis Replay and opened it to the public on New Year’s Eve of 2018.

Before it’s Beta Launch, Axis Replay came together with RIISE Ventures to help host the first-ever ‘Esports Week Atlanta‘ in November 2018. This event brought together Esports industry leaders, brand executives, and gamers alike to demonstrate the evolution of the industry through a week of workshops, panels, and tours.

“I’m excited about our partnership with Axis Replay. The Esports space is electric and one of the most fertile verticals for us to create Experiential IP and content right now. We feel what SOHO House is for industry and creative elites, Access Replay will be for gamers and the creative tech space. Adding this to our conversation & portfolio is a win-win for everyone involved.” says RIISE Venture Partner and  ONE Musicfest Founder, J Carter.

The future of RIISE Ventures’ partnership with Axis Replay is pivotal as Atlanta continues to become an ultimate destination for the largest events in sports, technology and entertainment. “These alliances will allow us to continue to showcase how innovation is a sport and what that means for the industry,” says RIISE Venture Managing Partner M. Cole Jones.

RIISE Ventures will continue to explore investing ideas, talent and capital across the esports and other industries that offer distinct experiences in the worlds of sports, entertainment, and technology. Game On!

About RIISE Ventures
RIISE Ventures curate experiences by leveraging major sports, entertainment and technology events . Our Innovation is a Sport™ methodology advises partners and consult corporate brands on how to stimulate ideas, attract and retain talent and invest capital into emerging and growth industries. RIISE Ventures is a member of the Consumer Technology Association (producers of the Consumer Electronics Show) and holds a seat on the Atlanta Super Bowl 53 Technology Committee. Learn more at: http://riiseventures.com.

About Axis Replay 
Axis Replay is a 12,000 square foot entertainment and event facility for video games and esports located across from Krog Street Market in Atlanta, Georgia. This unique facility allows for small to medium-sized eSports events, high-speed internet, high-end gaming systems, tabletop games with café and bar. Axis Replay exists to create fun, social experiences for gamers and their friends so that they can build stronger connections. For more information, visit www.axisreplay.com.

After starting out as an affiliate in 2009 and developing some recognized review portals, I have moved deeper into journalism and media. My experience has lead me to move into the B2B sector and write about compliance updates and report around the happenings of the online and land based gaming sector.

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How the NBA is Making Waves in eSports

George Miller

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How the NBA is Making Waves in eSports
NBA 2K Esports League players use HyperX headsets. Photo Source: unsplash.com
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The National Basketball Association has just turned 73 years old and is one of the four major leagues for professional level sports in North America. Thanks to this age and prominence, it is often considered the world’s leading basketball league, with good reason. Whilst comprising of teams only from the United States and Canada, the NBA attracts many international players who join from every continent. In addition, the average NBA team is worth $1.9 billion, considerably more than teams in other leagues.

Expanding the Empire

The NBA is currently enacting a strategy to leverage its brand around the world, developing audiences in regions outside of the United States including the UK, Africa and China. As part of this it recently announced the launch of a NBA YouTube channel to stream games to sub-Saharan audiences.

The eSports Expansion

In 2017, the NBA and games developer Take-Two Interactive announced that 17 of the 30 NBA teams would be taking part in the inaugural NBA 2K eSports League. This list included big names like the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors. The first of these eSports games took place in 2018, using the NBA 2K video games. Like real life games, NBA 2K eSports League games are contested between two teams of 5 players, making use of the “Pro-Am” mode found in the consumer version of NBA 2K 2018.

Just like in real life basketball, the eSports teams are generally made up of the following types of player:

  • Point guard: generally taking the on court leadership role for the team, typically having the best ball handling and passing skills to assist in creating shots
  • Shooting guard: typically the best shooter on the team, tasked with exploiting these skills, particularly when shooting from behind the three-point line
  • Small forward: often considered the most versatile position of the five, the small forward often takes on the role of the shooting guard, but is more likely to score baskets from lay-ups or slam dunks in contrast to the shooting guard’s three-point shooting abilities
  • Power forward: a versatile role, similar to the centre, which requires shooting and defence skills against all types of players
  • Centre: typically the tallest players, defending against shots and collecting rebounds.

The “eSeason”

In the real world, the NBA Championship will be decided between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors in mid June. Currently, odds comparison site Oddschecker is ranking the Raptors as favourites to take the crown. However, the NBA 2K eSports season begins in spring and finishes in summer. This timing allows the NBA to have its brand utilised for a larger portion of the year, beyond the end of the traditional basketball season.

eSports has become a multi million dollar industry.  Photo by Anthony Brolin, License

 

First Mover Advantage

The NBA’s announcement in 2017 that it would be launching the NBA 2K eSports League meant that it was the first major sports brand in the United States to enter the world of eSports. In contrast, most other eSports leagues are organised by tech companies like Intel – or games companies like Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite. Therefore, if the NBA is successful it will have several years of development to build a loyal eSports fan base, before rivals such as the National Football League or Major League Baseball join the party.

Growing Already

After a successful first year, four additional real life NBA teams will be joining the NBA 2K eSports League lineup, bringing the total number to 21. These new teams are: the Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Brooklyn Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves.The growth provides mutual benefits, since the teams will bring with them their own existing supporters who are more likely to follow their team’s eSports team, than an unknown entrant. In addition, the fans of eSports are likely to also gain a stronger interest in the real life team, buying merchandise and visiting games.

Live Streaming

Just as traditional sports leagues like the NBA have sold rights to air games on TV, the NBA 2K eSports League has signed a deal to have its games streamed live over the internet. The deal with streaming platform Twitch sees all games shown live, available to its audience of 15 million daily active users. The multi year streaming deal also includes commentary and analysis, just like you would expect from traditional TV coverage of any other sport.

The NBA 2K eSports deal is not Twitch’s first with the NBA. In December 2017, the two companies signed a deal that enabled Twitch to live stream games from the NBA G League, the official minor league, with up to 6 matches each week being distributed on the platform.

Sponsorship

Just like traditional sports leagues, the NBA 2K eSports League has signed a number of major sponsorship deals with large companies. Games are played on computers provided by gaming PC brand Alienware, using powerful processing chipsets supplied by Intel. Players use HyperX sponsored headsets and Scuf Gaming branded controllers. Teams also have their own sponsors, with their logos displayed on the teams’ in-game uniforms, just like in real life.

Conclusion

The growth in eSports has been massive, with large sums of money now being invested in creating leagues with all of the hallmarks of a traditional sport. In its quest to become a global sports brand, the NBA has been able to leverage its existing assets to create a large following in eSports, almost overnight. By launching the league in 2018 with 17 existing NBA teams, the NBA 2K eSports League already had loyal fans of 17 established sports clubs who would want to support them. Thus, it has a pre-made fanbase, huge financial assets and an established brand to leverage sponsorship deals and to use in negotiations when selling streaming rights.

In addition, the NBA’s venture into eSports is a significant opportunity to expand the reach of its brand into new geographic regions, as well as to new demographics that had not previously been interested in basketball. Even if a player does not become an avid watcher of NBA games, sales of the NBA 2K video game titles are also likely to benefit from the exposure of the NBA 2K eSports League.

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ReKTGlobal Acquires Greenlit Content

Niji Narayan

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ReKTGlobal Acquires Greenlit Content
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

ReKTGlobal, one of the leading esports organisation and the parent company of Rogue, has acquired Greenlit Content, a company that operates TwinGalaxies and Shacknews.

“Although we had a number of other offers from gaming and esports organizations, ReKTGlobal made the most sense for expanding our business and connecting with a global audience,” John Benyamine, CEO and Co-Founder of Greenlit Content said.

“Not only does the vision outlined by Dave and Amish embody our own, we are excited about the opportunity to integrate with the extremely impressive talent and esports roster that ReKTGlobal brings to the table,” Benyamine added.

The deal will bring together Greenlit Content’s media network, global GameDaily Connect conferences, gaming audience and brand partners that include the likes of E3, Comic-Con International, The Beard Club, Activision Blizzard and Dell.

“While esports is a big part of Greenlit Content’s portfolio, we also work with endemic and non- endemic brands across gaming and mixed reality. With the backing of ReKTGlobal, we can continue to grow the esports audience, while offering clients content marketing opportunities with built-in ROI across our network of sites, social, international game developer conferences and consumer-focused events across the U.S.” John Gaudiosi, President and Co-Founder of Greenlit Content said.

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Sterling.VC Launches Andbox Brand

Niji Narayan

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Sterling.VC Launches Andbox Brand
Photo Source: dotesports.com
Reading Time: 1 minute

 

Sterling.VC has launched a new brand named Andbox to encompass its esports initiatives. In a release, Andbox is described as “the first multi-franchise esports organization to represent New York in the world’s preeminent esports leagues.”

In addition to overseeing those franchised teams, Andbox will also focus on hosting additional esports events in and around New York City, as well as creating content and developing original lifestyle and apparel products.

Andbox has appointed Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, co-founders of New York-based fashion label Public School, as the creative directors for its apparel offerings. The New York Excelsior previously collaborated with fashion brands such as Undefeated, Champion and New Era.

“Following the launch of NYXL and our new Call of Duty franchise, we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from our fans, but we recognize that New Yorkers—and gamers everywhere—are still hungry for a deeper, more meaningful connection to esports. We’re incredibly excited to launch Andbox to help people find exciting new ways to self-identify and express themselves as gamers,” Andbox co-founder Scott Wilpon said.

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