American businessman and investor Mark Cuban believes that investors buying into esports teams in the United States may be surprised to discover the extreme challenges associated with the competitive gaming industry in North America.
In a recent interview with Kristine Leahy on Fair Game, Cuban reiterated some of the issues with esports in the United States that he has expressed in the past.
Mark Cuban thinks owning an esports team in the U.S. is an "awful business" 🗣️🎮@mcuban talks sports business, investing, and more on an all new FAIR GAME w/ @KristineLeahy today at 5:30pm ET/2:30pm PT on @FS1 💵 pic.twitter.com/aIWBD7Fhny
— Fair Game (@FairGameonFS1) October 23, 2019
Cuban feels that the competitive landscape of games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Fortnite, and more, creates a high-pressure environment for both the players and teams.
“They [game developers] change everything all the time,” Cuban said.
“Whether it’s Overwatch, League of Legends, Fortnite, for that matter, it’s not really an esport, but still, when it’s a five-person team and the meta changes every 90 to 120 days, it’s a whole new game.
“It’s so competitive and it’s so mentally and physically straining, that it’s brutal.”
The physical problems tied with esports are well-documented. For a player to make it to the professional level, they must play many hours a day.
A study completed in January 2019 found that the average collegiate esports player practices between 5.5 and 10 hours a day and is particularly susceptible to eye fatigue, neck and back pain, and wrist and hand pain.
At a professional level, these problems are only amplified.
Further to the physical component of esports, Cuban believes that there are major economic concerns, as well.
“I think that a lot of people who bought into teams, not just esports themselves, had no idea how bad a business it was,” Cuban said.
“In aggregate, it’s a good business. Is it growing? Yes. But, domestically, here in the United States, it’s an awful business. And so, I think you’re seeing a lot of consolidation that people get out and try to sell. You see a lot of people trying to raise more money, you see the valuations coming down.
“I think that a lot of people who bought in, didn’t recognize the difference between a stream and viewer in Europe and Asia versus a stream and a viewer here.
“You read Esports Observer and you see all the Twitch numbers and everything, you see the aggregate hours, and even with Overwatch League, three hundred thousand maximum global viewers – I forget the actual number – that’s not a huge number.”
Cuban believes that there is money to be made by investing in esports teams, but not in the United States.
“Being in Asia, there’s money. If you’re in Korea, there’s tons of money there. If you’re in China, there’s tons of money there. Here? Not so much.
“Look at what the streamers go through. I mean, Ninja kills it. He makes a ton of money, but he went to Mixer because to make that money he has to stream ten hours per day and not have a life.”
Jake founded Level Push in 2019 and is committed to covering all aspects of gaming. He started playing competitive League of Legends and Call of Duty in 2010. As an economics graduate, Jake is uniquely positioned to provide business and industry insights.