Beijing based Ourgame International Holdings Ltd. bought the World Poker Tour from Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc in an all cash deal for $35 million last summer. Now they have their eye set on placing as many as a dozen e-sports arenas, like the one they have opened in Beijing, across the globe. The Las Vegas Strip is one location they’d like to explore according to several reports in local media.
e-Sports is an exploding phenomenon around the world, attracting big sponsors like Coca Cola and Red Bull. abc.net.au reports that last year, “the net worth of the gaming industry passed that of the music industry by $20 billion,” the outlet stated, presumably about all gaming combined. But the U.S. is no stranger to the trend with massive tournaments being held at KeyArena in Seattle, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and Madison Square Garden in New York.
e-Sports is a form of competitive video game play, usually by teams, the video game genres most associated with the practice are multiplayer online battle arena, first-person shooter, real-time strategy, and fighting. The most well known competitions are the Intel Extreme Masters, the Evolution Championship Series, The International, the League of Legends World Championship, and the Battle.net World Championship Series. The tournaments provide live broadcasts of the competitions as well as salaries and prize moneys to the competitors.
Vegasinc reports that Ourgame’s chief executive, Frank Ng stated in an interview that they would like to see the arenas come to life within 3-5 years. If one was opened on the Strip it would likely be similar to the Beijing facility with a 200 seat arena, hundreds of gaming stations, a broadcast studio and more within a 14,000 sq ft complex.
Many analysts believe that such an attraction is just what Las Vegas needs to court new generations of tourists who don’t seem as interested in the fixed odds of table games and the spinning reels of purely random number generator slot machines.
Ourgame (6899 HK) may be laying the foundation for something much bigger on the horizon for electronic entertainment, with or without a betting element. Fortune reported last month that Virtuix held the first-ever virtual reality (VR) e-Sports tournament at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Four players were installed in Omni multi-directional treadmills and given virtual reality headsets along with active replica guns to compete in a first person shooter game called Omni Arena.
Jan Goetgeluk, CEO of Virtuix, told Fortune, “Now players will need to be physically fit and trained in addition to being a strong gamer,” Goetgeluk said, “The faster you run in the Omni, the faster you move in your chair.”
Legendary video game developer John Carmack (Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Rage) explored the concept of VR e-Sports stadiums in his Oculus Connect 2 talk back in September. Carmack said, “It’d be great to have traditional mainstream sports, but perhaps even more interesting is esports,” he said. He went on to talk about arena scale flexibility describing an environment where thousands of attendees could move through a virtual crowd and socialize. “I think that’s very exciting and something we can do a great job on in VR,” he added.
Of course an even bigger idea on the minds of some programmers is holographic or VR 3D competition scenes, a la virtual gladiators in a VR stadium.
The Oculus Rift is a head-mounted display for immersive technology virtual reality. Facebook purchased the company for $2 billion in March 2014. No exact release date has been announced but reportedly pre-orders are being accepted for $1,499 beginning two days ago.