Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

Major League Gaming raising $10M for tournament gaming

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For some gamers, playing in tournaments never gets old. That’s what fuels the growth of Major League Gaming, a tournament gaming company that announced today it has raised $10 million in funding.

New York-based MLG runs the world’s largest professional video game player’s league. MLG said it has a $10 million financing commitment from Legion Enterprises, a private equity firm. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011.

Legion targets investments in companies that cater to “digital natives,” or tech-savvy youths ages 16 to 24. Oak Investment partners is joining the round. Once the round is closed, MLG will have raised $52.5 million. The investment shows that the promise of professional gaming — that it could one day stand alongside sports such as football or soccer as a spectator sport — is still alive.

MLG stages live events where thousands of attendees watch the best professional video game players compete for prizes. It also broadcasts the events online and let users play in their own tournaments. The company says it reaches 4.5 million consumers a month online, produces thousands of videos per year, and reaches more than 600,000 unique viewers per live broadcast of each weekend event for its Pro Circuit competitions. Males under 30 make up 95 percent of the viewing audience.

The combination of the live events — which draw spectators — and the online tournaments, which draw participants, is key to the business. While very few players may really have competitive ability, there are lots of gamers who wouldn’t mind watching a tournament to learn how to play better. And there are those who want to take their learnings and play against their trash-talking friends.

MLG recently redesigned its site and will roll out social networking and video capabilities over the coming months.

The company was founded in 2002. Over the last eight years, MLG has set out to create a global, cross-platform competitive gaming business, said Sundance DiGiovanni, chief executive of MLG. Over time, the company has acquired business such as Gamebattles and Agora Games, both aimed at building big communities around online games.


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