Don’t Mess with Texas: The Exploding Dallas-Fort Worth Esports Scene

July 16, 2018

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.”

Photo Credit: The Esports Observer

Photo Credit: SMU

“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.