The active development of cybersport showed that it became an independent direction in business and could be attractive to investors. Moreover, regular cybersport news indicates that a lot of universities have formed their varsity esports programs and degrees, which confirms the seriousness of the situation.
The transformation of computer gaming into a specific sports direction is a rather smooth process, so most people won't name even the approximate years when it has happened. The reaction of investors also seems to be a bit overdue, and the recent increased interest confirms it. The phenomenon of esports popularity forced universities to react appropriately, and they started opening eSports programs, organising college teams, launching courses, and suggesting degrees in the regarded sphere.
Universities and colleges paid attention to cybersport in 2015, when the first varsity programs appeared. The next year, in the USA, NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, was created. It is designed to manage the situation with college esport teams and competitions. As of now, there are 175 members in NACE, which are competing in different leagues and diverse games, and that is only in the USA.
The popularity of university-based esports appeared not surprisingly. Traditionally, higher educational institutions have enough facilities to suggest to students for training sessions and competitions. Compared to professional sports, cybersport requires only one equipped room for the whole team, which is not a problem for a university. Moreover, the needed equipment like tables, chairs, desktops, and related electronic devices can be taken from charity programs or smart sponsor contracts.
Why can colleges with esports be attractive for investors?
Creating a cybersport team is not a problem nowadays. The person with money can easily buy a roster in the game discipline he or she likes, purchase or rent training facilities, recruit needed supporting staff, and start the race for money and titles. However, it can be quite a risky way of making money as it will require huge investments, which can be returning for years.
If a few years is not a matter of panic for the investor, it's better to pay attention to the universities. Several aspects can help to save money if one invests in college-based team:
- No need to maintain training facilities (universities have enough rooms that can be transformed into a suitable place).
- No need to find a dwelling for players (students usually have the place to live in).
- Fewer expenses on equipment (equipment may come from partnership programs; firms like Asus, MSI, Intel, AMD, and others prefer singing deals with universities as part of their charity programs).
- Salaries for students/gamers can be minimal (salaries of the top cybersport players vary from thousand dollars to tens of thousand dollars per month).
- Great natural competition inside the educational institution (regular events and games inside the university lead to the appearance of the competitive team with the right behaviour).
- Universities tend to support such investors (esports direction is gaining momentum in the higher educational institutions, so colleges will be happy to receive some financial support from outside while attracting students).
Of course, such a team cannot compete on the top level with the best and world-known organisations, but that is a cheap and safer beginning. There are plenty of competitions on the college and university level, while the $16 million budget of NACE shows that even a small portion of this sum can be helpful at the beginning.
How to choose an esports college for investments?
Actually, the answer to this question starts with choosing the right management team. As this business direction has appeared unexpectedly and not so long ago, it doesn't have enough specialised people to serve it. For instance, almost all the esports tournaments are broadcasting online and for free on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, or MS Mixer. So, it requires a new marketing and advertising approach when sponsors are paying for the online audience. That is why universities are opening specific eыports courses and suggesting degrees in this sphere.
For the investor, it means that a higher educational institution that has both cybersport teams and opens degrees may be a perfect place to invest with lower risks. An interested person can combine investments in a playing squad and a managing one, which increases chances to receive a person that will be needed in the growing industry. If there is – a talented gamer in one of the most popular online games, the investor can sell him for hundreds of thousands of dollars. If a few skillful managers appear, the businessman can try to organise his or her own tournament or become a professional platform for others with experienced staff.
Summing up, all the highlighted reasons tend to consider higher educational institutions as an interesting and prospective place to invest, if one has decided to enter the esports business sphere.
What colleges have esports programs?
Usually, an esports program is the feature of progressive institutions with a modern approach to education, which does not consider cybersports as kids' gaming addiction.
How many colleges have esports teams?
Only over 170 colleges and universities in the USA have esports programs; across the globe, this number is much bigger.
What colleges offer esports scholarships?
Those universities, which understand that cybersport business requires specific specialists, offer scholarships.