There are many stereotypes associated with the state of Texas, but tech giant typically isn’t one of them. Which is funny, because, if it were, it might be the most correct.
Texas has a long, proud history of innovative technology companies. In fact, without a Texas-based company, there might not be a tech industry to speak of since the integrated circuit (which is more commonly known as the microchip) was invented at Texas Instruments in the 1950s (TI would also go on to create the pocket calculator). The following decades saw the growth of Electronic Data Systems (EDS). Based in the Dallas suburb Plano, this outsourcing company basically became the IT department for many companies as that need grew beyond their ability to keep up.
Photo Credit: Central Track
Personal computing was given a boost in the ‘80s and ‘90s thanks to Compaq, based in Houston, and Dell, headquartered in the Austin suburb Round Rock. Also, Broadcast.com, an early internet streaming service, was headquartered in Dallas (until it was sold to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion).
Now, the Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to a new technology wave that is also experiencing nationwide growth: esports. In fact, Dallas is second only to Los Angeles as far as esports is concerned.
“You had to have your head in the sand to not see the growth of esports if you’re in the sports business,” said Kenneth Hersh, co-owner of the Texas Rangers and esports investor. “If you haven’t seen the growth of esports in the last 24 months, you probably haven’t been serious about your sports ownership, let me just put it that way.”
- Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks (who made his fortune through the Broadcast.com sale), is also the owner of an NBA 2K League team, Mavs Gaming, and has invested in the competitive video game wagering start-up Unikrn (pronounced “Unicorn,” because, of course it is).
Photo Credit: The Esports Observer
- Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and John Goff, a real estate investor, teamed up to acquire a majority stake in compLexity Gaming and moved the team’s global headquarters to The Star in Frisco. The Cowboys also have a team in the Madden NFL Club Championship, which kicks off in a few months.
- Kenneth Hersh, a co-owner of the Texas Rangers, is an investor in Team Envy, which runs the Overwatch League team Dallas Fuel. Currently, the Dallas Fuel operates out of Los Angles (as does every Overwatch League team), but it will make the move to its home town by 2020.
- Another co-owner of the Texas Rangers, Neil Leibman, is invested in an entirely different esports organization: OpTic Gaming. Originally based in Chicago, OpTic moved its entire organization to Dallas in the winter of 2017.
- Two facilities dedicated to esports are opening – one in Frisco and the other in Arlington. The latter will take 100,000 square feet of space at the Arlington Convention Center and convert it into the country’s largest stadium dedicated to competitive gaming. The remodeled arena is expected to open by the end of 2018.
- The area is home to the SMU Guildhall, the No. 1 school for game design according to The Princeton Review. The Guildhall program is 24 months long and offers a Master of Interactive Technology degree and a Graduate Professional Certificate, with concentrations in four areas: programming, design, art, and production.
Photo Credit: SMU
- SMU Guildhall is also collaborating with eGency Global on the debut of a two-day esports festival called OP Live Dallas on September 22-23, 2018. The event will feature high-level professional competition, a 16-team collegiate tournament, and a showcase for the work of SMU Guildhall master’s degree candidates in interactive technology. It will also provide education for students and their parents about how to break into the video game industry.
“We are going to have a lot of booths that illuminate the opportunities that gaming provides from a competitive play standpoint to how to design games, become a caster, become a pro. We’re going to have talks given by people in various facets of the industry, from people that develop the games to pros that play games for money to casters and influencers. We’ll give this broad stroke approach to the different career opportunities for people who have a passion and desire to do such things and make it real and tangible to them. And, of course, there will be all the entertainment value that comes with it. There will be lots of things for fans to do,” said Mark Nausha, the Deputy Director of GameLab at SMU Guildhall.
“There is a desire to take this type of event to different regions of the country and do three or four of these over the course of a year and then circle back to Dallas.”
Cuban recently stated his belief that esports will be a major growth factor for the area. “Literally, like oil and gas was a big industry for the region 50 years ago, 100 years ago, esports can be a fueling industry for this region,” he said.
Cuban is also building a state-of-the-art facility for Mavs Gaming produced by The Trade Group. The facility includes a mini esports stage, a broadcast suite, player warm-up areas, a locker room, and the ability to seat 1,500 people with room to expand. The multi-purpose space is designed to host esports tournaments, parties, receptions, meet-and-greets, and other events.
Photo Credit: The Trade Group
For now, it seems that Cuban is going to stick to just the one esports franchise, an investment he made due to the connection to his NBA team.
“It allows us to kind of learn at the NBA level what works with a generation of kids that don’t watch TV, that stream differently than how we think of over-the-top streaming,” said Cuban. “It allows us to learn more about teaching; you have to learn these games. They’re hard to be good at, it takes time and it teaches you from an educational perspective. There are just so many nuanced benefits from 2K.”
The Dallas-Fort Worth area actually had a hand in the infancy of the esports scene. Dallas suburb Mesquite-based id Software developed Quake, a first-person shooter game that was a staple of early esports competition. The area was also home to one of the first esports events, The FRAG held in 1997. At the time the acronym stood for The Foremost Roundup of Advanced Gamers, but the event continues to this day known as the Frisco Roundup of Advanced Gamers.
Photo Credit: All Events in City
This fall four universities in the area will have school-sponsored esports programs: UT Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas Wesleyan, and the University of North Texas. In fact, UNT recently opened a $200K on-campus competitive gaming facility located in its media library known as The Nest.
“It’s got everything we need and a little bit more,” says Ethan Vinante, President of UNT Gaming and Esports. “The school has been really good about looking ahead and understanding that esports is where everything is going. This space will make our teams better at communication and better at performing.”
The Dallas-Fort Worth esports boom is showing no sign of stopping. In fact, now that this migration has begun, some of Texas’ more business-friendly leanings (the state doesn’t have a corporate income tax or personal income tax) may encourage other esports organizations to follow suit.
For more on our thoughts about the developing esports scene, in Dallas-Fort Worth or nationwide, give eGency Global a call at 972-323-6354.