The eSports scene has experienced rapid growth in the last few years with games like Call of Duty, Starcraft, and League of Legends pulling in huge viewership numbers and their respective pro players earning million dollar-plus salaries. Although it was Valve that initially set the precedent when they hosted last year’s International Dota 2 Championships that boasted an $18 million dollar prize pool, partially crowdfunded akin to Microsoft’s approach with Halo 5 tournament.
Over a decade ago, and before the eSports hype of the last few years, it was Major League Gaming (MLG) that pioneered the competitive gaming movement with Halo 2 headlining its roster. In recent years, MLG’s influence has waned with rival organizations such as ESL cropping up, as well eSports expanding to more than just first-person shooters. Call of Duty parent company Activision Blizzard doesn’t think so though, with rumors of an acquisition of MLG proving to be true.
The company announced today they have purchased Major League Gaming for $46 million dollars. eSports Observers reports the buyout was for a "large majority of MLG’s assets" and had been done legally without the consent of stockholders. CEO of Activision Blizzard Bobby Kotick stated:
"Our acquisition of Major League Gaming's business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of esports. MLG's ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform - including its live streaming capabilities - strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming."
The company also touched on the potential of eSports, stating there are over 100 million viewers of eSports titles and it is expected to grow three-fold by 2017 -- in reference to a report done by research organization Newzoo on the future of eSports. Activision has made it clear it intends to position MLG as the eSports branch of the company, which seems to be in contrast to the announcement of MLG’s competitor ESL being the official partner for the Call of Duty World League, although this deal could have been penned well before Activision had any intent on purchasing MLG outright.
The news is sure to worry Microsoft, as the owners of the Halo franchise have a partnership deal with MLG for Halo 5’s 2016 eSports season. Activision might not want to continue the deal next year or leading into the release of Halo 6, as the franchise is a direct console competitor to its Call of Duty series. The company did confirm it would be business as usual for MLG stating:
"MLG will continue to operate MLG.tv, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles platforms, and will continue to work with its partners and other publishers across the industry."
It is unknown what the future plans and changes will be to the organization when Activision presumably shuffles things around and makes significant changes.
At any rate, Screen Rant will keep you updated with news on MLG and Activision Blizzard's acquisition of them as news is made available.
Source: eSports Observers