Esports or professional video gaming, is taking the world (of sports) by storm. So far, this relatively new and booming sector has not received much antitrust attention. In an era where both Big Tech and traditional sports undergo a tougher antitrust scrutiny than ever, this will no doubt change soon. With structures and actors similar to traditional sports, esports is widely expected to raise analogous antitrust issues. However, the very status of esports as “sports” under Union law is contested. Moreover, the absence of sports governing bodies in the traditional sense and the fundamental role played by game publishers and their IP rights in shaping virtually all aspects of the esports industry means that the competition-IP interface is likely to play a very prominent rule in future antitrust enforcement in this sector.

By Fredrik Löwhagen & Sînziana Ianc1

 

I. INTRODUCTION

Electronic sports (“esports”) or professional video gaming is taking the world (of sports) by storm. Since the first chess game was developed for computers in the 1950s, competitive video games have evolved, and now sell out world-leading venues such as the Staples Center, and are being taught in schools and universities. Most importantly, esports has become an industry in its own right, with a global annual revenue estimated at $1.5 billion in 2019. So far, this relatively new yet booming sector has not received much antitrust attention. In an

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