In recent years, esports has been one of the fastest growing industry out there. According to a study from statista.com, the worldwide revenues generated in the esports market in 2015 amounted to US$325 million and is expected to reach close to US$1.5 billion by 2020. And while advertisers and sponsors have been flocking to the industry, there is still room for improvement on the legal side of things.
With the multiplication of esports titles and organizations entering the picture, there is a growing consensus within the industry that esports need to be better organized and governed in order to maintain its fast development. Some parties have already taken action to start the “structuration of esports’ governance”. League and tournament organizers as well as broadcasters such as Twitch, ESL, FACEIT and ELEAGUE have started to work on rules and regulations regarding certain games and tournaments. ESL in particular has already worked with many professional esports teams to create the World Esports Association (WESA) as well as with many other businesses such as betting companies to form the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) which respectively aim at professionalizing esports and ensuring its integrity. Meanwhile, more countries are starting to look into esports to decide of its classification and tackle subjects like applicable taxation and social benefits or players’ status. It is also important to notice that some game publishers also create and enforce their own regulations, adding another layer of rules.
The launch of the NBA 2K League back in early May, a joint-venture between the NBA and Take-Two Interactive and the first official esports league to be operated by a U.S. professional sports league, has raised issues regarding the legal aspect of players agreements.
More recently, the Pennsylvania-based law firm McNees Wallace & Nurick has launched its Esports Practice Group, recognizing the growing scale and with it the number of legal issues for all sides. Perhaps this will prompt other legal firms to turn their attention to the industry, further extending this period of regulatory experimentation.
At the moment, the global vision of esports governance is still pretty blurry and messy because of all the different approaches to regulation. Time will tell how things fit together and what shape esports governance will take.
Some people believe in a free-market development without external interference, others think there are things to take from traditional sports but I personally believe esports is unique enough to deserve its own model. What do you think? How relevant is a global esports governance?
Let us know in the comments.