The move takes Facebook further into esports, which is on its way to becoming a $1.5 billion industry by 2020, according to market researcher Newzoo. The Paladins esports league will launch in the fall with 10 teams from WESA, and it will give amateur players a path to compete at a professional level through Facebook Groups. This is one of Facebook’s deepest dives yet into organized esports. Every esports observer has said that ultimately, broadcast revenues will generate the most revenue for esports, as it does with traditional sports leagues.
The Paladins Premier League is the newly-established, official esports league of Hi-Rez Studios’ first-person shooter game Paladins, which has more than 15 million players worldwide. Professional players in the league will earn a minimum salary and teams will participate in revenue sharing of league profits.
“Hi-Rez Studios has a long history in esports, and we’re thrilled to work with Facebook on this next chapter of professional Paladins play,” said Todd Harris, cofounder of Hi-Rez Studios, in a statement. “We’ve seen a worldwide appetite to play Paladins competitively, and we’re excited to share our team shooter with millions of gamers on Facebook. With Facebook’s global reach and community building tools, we expect Paladins esports to continue its explosive growth on both a grassroots community level and at the highest tier of play in the Paladins Premier League.”
The Paladins community will enjoy top-tier gameplay, quality live coverage and community-based features that encourage interaction and bring players closer together. A weekly Paladins Esports Show on Watch, Facebook’s new platform for shows, will bring news, insights and analysis of the competitive scene.
“We are thrilled that Facebook has joined us as we work with Hi-Rez and the WESA teams to grow the Paladins Premier League into the world-class competition that the game deserves,” said Ken Hershman, executive chairman and commissioner of WESA, in a statement. “We look forward to working together with Facebook on new and exciting ways to grow and engage with this exciting community.”
It’s a nice win for Facebook, but it has a ways to go to catch up with livestreaming giants like Amazon’s Twitch and YouTube. It certainly looks like esports is a new battleground among these titans.
“Every day, through Paladins Global Series, fans around the world are connecting in meaningful ways through Facebook Groups,” said Leo Olebe, director of global games partnerships at Facebook, in a statement. “We are excited to bring things full circle by making Facebook the home for professional Paladins Premier League esports content too. Hi-Rez’s use of Facebook to discover new player talent and elevate players to a professional stage is a great fit for the community-driven platform we’re building for the gaming video ecosystem.”
Paladins Premier League livestreams will kick off in fall 2017 on Facebook.