Why the esports industry’s publisher ownership model is on its way out

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After spending years developing their own esports leagues in-house, game publishers have given up the ghost in 2024, handing the reins over to third-party league operators to keep their competitive scenes alive. It’s an end of an era — and a chance for the industry to become more sustainable in the long run, if it isn’t too late.

During the boom days of esports, publisher ownership of events and leagues was the industry’s dominant business model. Riot Games and Activision Blizzard charged investors millions of dollars in franchise fees for the right to field teams in in-house leagues such as the Overwatch League and League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), then spent millions of dollars of their own to produce spectacular world championships and flashy homestand events.

But over the past 12 months, publishers have made it clear that they are looking to divest from esports. Instead, they’re partnering with third-party vendors to run their leagues. Activision Blizzard still runs its Call of Duty League with a skeleton crew, but has handed both “Overwatch” and the lower levels of “Call of Duty” esports over to ESL/FACEIT Group.

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The original post is at Marketing Archives – Digiday

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