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Business of Esports Minute #045: New 100 Thieves Owners, Epic Losses, $1B Esports Stadium

A week of news covering the intersection of business and gaming / esports, all in about one minute – everything you need to know from the “profit of esports” himself.

045 – April 18, 2021

In this week’s Business of Esports Minute: 100 Thieves Ownership, Epic Losses, and $1B Esports Stadium!

From the keyboard to the boardroom, this is the Business of Esports Minute! Every single week, I, Paul Dawalibi, the prophet of esports, will be bringing you my hottest takes from the week, basically, everything you need to know about the business of esports all in about one minute. Let’s go.

Esports organization 100 Thieves announced it has expanded its ownership to include streamers Rachel “Valkyrae” Hofstetter and Jack “CouRage” Dunlop. Valkyrae and CouRage will join an ownership group composed of company CEO & Founder Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, rapper Drake, media mogul Scooter Braun, and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. It’s always smart business to give your top employees equity so they have skin in the game. It’s a great motivator and incentives become very closely aligned. I’m assuming that’s what 100 Thieves is doing here. Let’s hope they don’t go down the path of FaZe Clan though where everyone and their dog is an “owner” or “investor”.

A recent court filing (thank you Apple) has revealed that Epic Games lost about $454 million in 2019 and 2020 on the Epic Games Store (EGS). EGS lost $181 million & $273 million in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Epic expects the store to turn a profit in 2023. They have 160 million registered users and 56 million monthly actives. According to Apple’s filings, the Epic Games Store is going to cost Epic $600 million in losses by the end of this year and won’t be profitable until 2027. I have 3 concerns here. First, Epic continues to be distracted by the ongoing lawsuit. I am amazed they managed to raise $1B at a 50% valuation increase with this hanging over their heads. Second, while Epic is very enthusiastic about the Epic Games Store losses being an investment, it’s not clear if they are achieving anything of significance. 56 million monthly actives sounds a lot like the Fortnite crowd. Other than for Fortnite and the free games, who is actually using the Epic Games Store, and will they stay when those go away? I think not. Primarily because the Epic Games Store hasn’t offered anything in the way of real innovation compared to Steam. Finally, for all the reasons above – and here’s my hot take-  I believe the Epic Games Store will likely go down as one of the worst investments in gaming history. Epic could have used these hundreds of millions to further their metaverse ambitions, make new games, build new technologies, etc and created far more long-term  value in the company.

Finally, Tencent, a multinational conglomerate company, recently announced plans to build a billion-dollar esports venue in the business’s home country of China. A billion-dollar esports arena in China backed by Tencent makes a lot more sense to me than the $500M arena in Toronto. Between the popularity of Tencent-owned esports and the massive Chinese audience, this is likely a far better investment. We don’t have details on the number of seats, etc, but this will be exciting to see come to life.

You can get esports news anywhere. This is the only place you can get real insight. For more of this, as well as the most exceptional line-up of guests, please tune in every week to the Business of Esports podcast and every Wednesday evening into the Business of Esports after-show Livestream. Also make sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok @bizesports and on YouTube at The Business of Esports.

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