It’s no surprise that the esports world continues to blow up. Streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming are more popular than they ever have been. And since the video game business has been booming for some time now, it’s opened everyone’s eyes to just how profitable the industry can become. While some folks are busy trying to jump into the gaming space themselves, others within it are beginning to try and expand their already established brand in it.
In October 2018, some time after jumping into a couple games of Fortnite with Ninja, rap superstar Drake put his money where his mouth was, partnering with entertainment executive Scooter Braun to announce that the pair will co-own 100 Thieves. The company, which is branded as a “lifestyle, apparel, and esports” company, was founded by Matt “Nadeshot” Haag, a retired Call of Duty professional player. Not only was the announcement big for Haag, but it was big for the gaming community as a whole.
For years, mainstream media and the people associated with it have been weary of entering the world of gaming, but with a name as massive as Drake jumping into the mix, it showed that there should be nothing to fear. Their investment into 100 Thieves was more than a business move however. Both men are entrepreneurs and no doubt see the upside in the gaming scene. After nearly breaking the internet with Ninja, Drake single-handedly made it more acceptable for “mainstream” celebrities to begin openly professing their love for gaming. Since their moment together and the investment into 100 Thieves, more people have come out to support.
Fans of rapper Lil Yachty will remember that back in December 2018, the rapper took to the Rolling Loud festival stage to announce that he was the newest member of FaZe Clan. Joined by various members of FaZe (a gaming clan started in 2010), Yachty was given his own t-shirt and discussed in an interview how he was actually very much invested into the collective.
While Lil Yachty likely won’t be jumping into Twitch streams or playing in Call of Duty tournaments, his inclusion into the world of esports shows the other side of what it takes to be successful: recognition. Since jumping into the esports scene in 2016, FaZe Clan has really done an amazing job of establishing themselves as an entertainment brand instead of just a group of gamers. They all still play games, but they also all live in a large mansion in Los Angeles, have their own YouTube channels and Twitch accounts, and have also launched their own merchandise lines. Basically, they’ve managed to endear themselves to fans of not only video games, but fashion, culture, music, and videos all in one.
In essence, they’ve done an incredible job of embracing the culture surrounding gaming and growing themselves inside of it. They’ve even managed to capture the hearts of other athletes, like JuJu Smith-Schuster, a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers who was also given a membership into FaZe Clan and his own line of limited merchandise. By breaking into these different lanes of entertainment, FaZe (and other gaming creators) are doing something we haven’t seen done before. Instead of just existing in the space that they’re doing well in, these groups are doing their best to break out of the mold and expand into different lanes of entertainment.
This is something that no doubt has caught the attention of people outside of the bubble of gaming that are looking to get their foot in the door, as well. If you’re someone with a large amount of influence in a bunch of fields, and come pre-equipped with an audience ready to support you in any way, then it’s much easier to jump into business and begin expanding your reach elsewhere. On top of that, with people like Drake or Lil Yachty co-signing various brands or groups, it adds an air of legitimacy to what everyone is doing. Now, instead of people marketing themselves as a group of gamers, they can instead point to these milestone moments as the beginning of something larger. It usually only takes a couple of people making a decision to get the ball rolling, and with top tier artists already invested, who knows who will be next.