Esports continues to grow in popularity as the gaming community becomes increasingly enamored with streaming culture, but recent developments in one of the largest and most successful teams in esports, OpTiC Gaming, has viewers understandably wondering what exactly is going on. The short answer is financial mismanagement, a massive buyout, and that something stinks in the realm of esports, but there’s a lot more between those lines.
Despite its fast growth and immense popularity, all does not seem perfectly well in the world of esports. Competitive prize pools and Twitch views keep consistently ticking higher and higher, but the veil over the magic of professional gaming is being lifted to show that esports teams and their owners are beholden to the same reality as every company: business is expensive. Founded in 2006 and best known for competing and frequently winning in Call of Duty tournaments, OpTiC Gaming is one of the biggest and best-known esports organizations in the US. Evidently, though, not even they are safe from simply being run into the ground by bad financial decisions, as their owner, Infinite Esports & Entertainment, seems to have been bought out by a competing company.
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According to Infinite Esports & Entertainment’s page on Crunchbase, the company and its holdings – including OpTiC – have been purchased by Immortals Gaming Club. The reason for the buyout by another team rather than a larger organization like Infinite is rooted in Infinite’s alleged money troubles caused by poor management. In a report on Medium, inside sources have relayed stories of organizational excess, keeping redundant personnel on payroll, and, last year, sizable layoffs at Infinite; and the fate of OpTiC has apparently been up in the air for quite some time now. For a while, OpTiC CEO Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez was planning to acquire the company, but his efforts appear to have fallen through.
While OpTiC appears safe and sound for now with their new owner, the ultimate fate of the OpTiC brand and current rosters isn’t currently known as neither OpTic nor Immortals have offered comment. However, OpTiC’s acquisition might have something to say about the esports as a whole, as a troubling picture begins to form when weighing this story against a pattern of industry-wide behavior. A Kotaku exposé claims that OpTiC’s troubles are symptomatic of a slew of bad investments and inflated profit reports from several high-profile esports, asserting that the industry has ballooned into a massive bubble waiting to burst. As evidenced by last year’s sudden shutdown of Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm esports scene, pro gaming is more fragile than many would care to admit – especially those that believe they stand to profit off of it in the long-term.
It can be hoped that OpTiC’s change of ownership is a mere drop in the bucket compared to a vast ocean of legitimate, sustainable successes. Nonetheless, there’s no cause for such optimism for now. Esports will likely continue to grow at its current rate, or perhaps even faster, but those pro gamers, support staff, and executives may have to face the music when their livelihoods are threatened if or when the esports bubble does ultimately pop.
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Source: Crunchbase, Medium, Kotaku
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