Future of Gaming: In 2015, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel famously compared esports to “going to a restaurant and having another person eat your food for you.”
The appeal of esports basically, competitive video gaming is usually lost on generations that didn’t grow up with it. But these days, Kimmel and others like him might not be so dismissive.
Future of Gaming According to Jack Etienne, owner of esports team Cloud9, in 2018 the once low-profile pastime “really cracked into the mainstream.” Since then, esports has grown into a billion-dollar global industry. Nearly 100 million viewers watched last year’s League of Legends world championship, about the same number who watched Super Bowl LIV.
But do esports in which banks of gamers hover at consoles, playing Fortnite, League of Legends, Call of Duty and other video games have a place, niche or otherwise, in the casino environment?
Jud Hannigan says yes.
Hannigan is CEO of Allied Esports, which opened the first esports arena on the Las Vegas Strip in 2018.
The HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor drew some 300,000 patrons last year and hosted 245 events, as well as 45 third-party events, such as new-game launch parties.
“The Fortnite crowd knows to come in every Friday,”says Hannigan.
“The fighting-game community comes out every Wednesday. And on Saturday nights, we have our Mario Kart events,” which draw older players, some from as far away as Los Angeles, many dressed as the mustachioed Luigi.
“We’re a destination not only for participation, but high-profile events that are broadcast to millions of people around the world.”
Future of Gaming Shock
Meaningfully, he adds, esports “grab a Gen-Z and millennial demographic that’s hard to reach people 18-35 like nothing else out there. This is all the rage in the world of sports entertainment, and this is where significant growth is coming.”
Seth Schorr was ahead of the curve, opening an esports lounge at his Downtown Grand Casino in 2016.
“The landscape of gaming is changing, along with every other industry, because of advanced technology and consumer behavior. It’s my duty to keep Nevada relevant by changing with the times.”Schorr said
Last June, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve pushed esports for the RenoSparks Convention Center.
“It’s one of the things that really needs to be looked at,” she said, “because this is the wave of the future.”
HyperX now has lots of company along the Strip, says Hannigan.
“There are weekends when Hard Rock has an event going on, the Rio has an event going on, and we have an event going on. It’s very exciting to see esports take over Las Vegas in this way.”
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