Esports are coming out of an industry-wide “Wild West,” helped along by improved sustainability across multiple sports. At a round table at HRX 2018, the company’s COO Todd Harris said that development of leagues and the introduction of minimum player salaries is helping esports become “more professional.”
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Harris says that “Over the past year, in the industry in general, there's been a move towards more professionalism and more stability. We're kind of coming out of the Wild West, and into a little bit of stability in general with other esports leagues.”
That’s something that Hi-Rez is hoping to add to in the next year. In particular, Harris mentions the introduction of the Paladins Pro League, which implements minimum player salaries and doesn’t allow for team relegation. Harris acknowledges that “there are pros and cons associated with that, but in general we think it's pro-player and pro-organisation, because everyone has more predictability of what's going on.” In turn, that means that “people can make joint investments to the space and know that it's not going to vanish.”
All of these changes are in their early stages - the Paladins Pro League is only a few months old, and the teams participating there all have significant esports experience, a move Harris says is essential for the “long-term health of the scene.” Significant changes will also be coming to the Smite Pro League next season, with twelve as-yet-unannounced organisations taking part. Harris says this level of professionalism and stability is a “step that I think more and more of the major esports will take,” and thinks that “it’s something the whole scene will benefit from.”