Activision Buys Major League Gaming, an E-Sports Giant
Major League Gaming, one of the earliest and most influential organizers of e-sports competitions, has been purchased by Activision Blizzard to the tune of $46 million. The sale, which includes “substantially all of the Company’s liabilities,” according to documents obtained by eSports Observer, was announced today by Activision after initial reports surfaced this past weekend.
“We’re excited to be able to announce the deal,” Mike Sepso, the Senior Vice President of Activision Blizzard’s e-sports division (which seems to be officially titled Activision Blizzard Media Networks) and one of the original co-founders of Major League Gaming fourteen years ago, told WIRED over the phone. “It gives us the capability in terms of people and technology to execute the vision that Steve [Bornstein, Chairman of Activision Blizzard Media Networks] and I started developing four months ago.”
Sepso confirmed that the vast majority of MLG, including “all of the e-sports-related technology platforms and people,” has been acquired by Activision and brought into its fold. Major League Gaming, he says, will retain its independent branding and staff, operating under the larger Activision umbrella much the same way Blizzard has since its acquisition by the company in 2008.
While Sepso wouldn’t confirm the $46 million number cited by eSports Observer, Sepso did offer one quibble with the website’s earlier reporting: eSports Observer reported that Sundance diGiovanni, founder and long-term CEO of Major League Gaming, would be stepping down, a move which Sepso denies. “Sundance has joined us here,” he told WIRED, citing the misunderstanding as a matter of “semantics.”
“He’ll be doing the same role; there is no CEO of MLG anymore,” Sepso said.
Perhaps most importantly for the e-sports community, however, at least in the short term, is Sepso’s confirmation that Major League Gaming will continue to maintain its connections with other game developers and publishers.
“We’re making a very concerted effort to continue working with servicing the third-party relationships that MLG had,” Sepso said, citing as a specific example the working relationship between MLG and Valve, with MLG producing and broadcasting the first North American Majors tournament for Counter Strike: Global Offensive later this month.
“Our mandate is as simple as, ‘go build the ESPN of e-sports,’” Sepso said. “Which means we gotta work with everybody.”