Posted By: Andrew Thiery
Competitive video gaming, colloquially termed “eSports,” is nothing less than a modern gold rush. eSports represents a massive global industry that is expected to generate one and a half billion dollars by 2020. More and more companies, including traditional sports organizations, are getting involved, each trying to claim a segment of the industry for their own. New companies are forming, existing ones are moving in, and those already involved are organizing and coordinating their efforts. In the last several years, multiple major governing bodies have been formed with the goal of standardizing and professionalizing eSports, including WESA (World eSports Association) and PEA (Professional eSports Association).
If history is any guide, there is a narrow line between standardization and monopolization. The same tools that good-faith actors use to lend standards and structure to an industry can be used by bad-faith actors to control and restrain it to their own ends. To combat such monopolistic tendencies. Congress enacted the Sherman Act, which outlaws “[e]very contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations.” Although the eSports industry has not yet attracted the attention of American antitrust law, this is most likely only because of the relative youth of the industry. Given the rate at which eSports audiences and businesses are expanding, such intervention is likely to happen sooner rather than later, and it is not difficult to extrapolate what such a case might look like based on the robust antitrust jurisprudence with respect to traditional professional sports. Continue reading