In the world of eSports, careers are made in a matter of months. Almost anyone, though often young people, with a computer and the skills to play these games can see themselves thrust into million-dollar contracts and sponsorship deals before they know what to do.
That’s where Josh Marcus and Evan Kubes are stepping in. The duo launched MKM group on Oct. 1 to help those who play video games professionally get an even footing in negotiations.
The group is the first in Canada devoted specifically to eSports. Normally, Canadian players would have to look south of the border for firms like theirs. To Kubes and Marcus, this was more than a business opportunity, but also a way to fill a wide gap that existed in the industry in Canada.
“Players don’t always have the full appreciation of their value,” Kubes said. “We saw this as a big opportunity to help the industry grow. On the one hand, it is a business opportunity. But on the other, there is a big need for it.”
According to the firm, in Canada alone, the video game industry accounts for over $3.7 billion in revenue. The sport of video games is growing at a rapid pace and sponsors, organizations and investors are chomping at the bit to get a slice of that pie.
According to MKM, the firm is there to help Canadian professional gamers wade through the legal jargon that comes along with an expensive contract.
“The eSports industry is accelerating at an unprecedented pace,” Marcus said.
“Casual gamers, many of whom are teenagers, can turn into celebrities overnight and find themselves with sponsorships and employment contracts, without the full appreciation for what they’ve signed up for.”
The growth of eSports has been astronomical. Just this year Blizzard, developer of Overwatch, one of the biggest games on the scene, announced that for the sophomore season of the Overwatch League, two Canadian teams will be joining the fray, one in Vancouver and one in Toronto.
On top of that, the biggest eSports tournament in the world was held in Vancouver this year. The International is an event devoted to the game DOTA 2, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that sees teams of five players control heroes in battles against other teams. This year’s tournament had a prize pool of $25 million, with the winning team taking home $11 million.
On top of professional tournaments, streaming has also brought in a ton of money for those who play video games for an audience and at the head of that industry is the game Fortnite, a “battle royale” game that pits either teams or individual players against each other. Players must eliminate others until they are the last one standing. Think The Hunger Games, but with building and dancing.
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The world’s biggest streamer right now, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, makes millions of dollars a month playing this game for an audience of fans. Money like that needs management and though Ninja is an exceptional example, there is potential for successful streamers to make a large amount of money.
This is where MKM steps in. On top of helping pro gamers, MKM says it will also help streamers with their deals as well.
In traditional sports, it’s a little more straightforward. Everyone in that sport is playing the same game with the same rules organized by the same people. In eSports, there are hundreds of players from different nationalities playing dozens of different games in dozens of different ways.
Developers of the games obviously want a share, event organizers want a share, team owners and, of course, the players. According to MKM, the infrastructure around eSports to facilitate its growth is not keeping pace, especially in Canada.
“This creates the potential for regulatory mishaps, power imbalances and legal grey areas,” said the company in a release.
It’s an industry that is growing at a rapid pace, with players as young as 16 gaining the ability to bring in a large amount of money. Kubes and Marcus believe those kids who are lucky enough to make it big could use a little help.
The company so far is focusing only on working with players from Canada. Kubes and Marcus met while attending law school together and both worked for several years in litigation before founding MKM in 2018.