PlayVS announced an exclusive partnership with Activision Blizzard to add Hearthstone along with Overwatch (an existing PlayVS regional league title) to the PlayVS high school esports game series starting in the spring 2022 season.
Activision Blizzard joins Riot Games, Nintendo, Electronic Arts (EA) and Psyonix as the fifth official and first exclusive publishing partner for the high school esports platform operator.
This partnership adds another great game to scholastic e-sports as it gives high school age players a chance to participate in organized league games with coaching similar to professionals. PlayVS also complements Activision Blizzard’s existing efforts to grow local fan bases into its city-based professional franchises and will serve as a trusted talent pipeline to identify future sports stars.
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“We continue to grow season over season in terms of the number of schools that are actively participating in a way,” said Delane Parnell, CEO of PlayVS, in an interview with GamesBeat. “One of the most fascinating measurements for me is how many children on average participate in e-sports at each school.”
In just three years, PlayVS has grown that number from essentially zero to 28, which means that 28 children on average participate per. school, which is actually on a par with traditional sports. As more coaches come online, this number will grow and it will probably soon pass baseball, which has 29 kids per game. school.
“Right now, we are limited based on the number of games we add that we have in our portfolio,” Parnell said. “As we continue to add more games, that number also increases. And as schools gain more access to equipment, it will grow. As e-sports matures, there will obviously be more investment in space.”
PlayVS has been operating with Overwatch for three years and now it has an exclusive on it as well as with Hearthstone. PlayVS operates a total of eight different titles.
Changing the high school culture
Parnell has observed that e-sports are transforming for many high school students. Once upon a time, jocks and nerds had little in common and often outclassed each other. But with the popularity of gaming, esport has become a bridge between the various subcultures within high schools, as almost everyone plays video games. And in this kind of sport, neither side has an advantage. The result is that e-sports can be a unifying force in high school.
On top of that, it is an activity that can be played online, even during the pandemic, which has hampered many personal sporting events. Parnell said students participating in e-sports feel more connected and motivated, and that leads to improved attendance, better grades, and higher graduation rates.
On top of that, high school esports programs are co-ed and inclusive. They offer students access to both in-game and life mentorships that they would otherwise miss when playing online at home. Esports programs cost schools a fraction of what they spend on sports like basketball and baseball, even though e-sports reach a similar number of students, Parnell said.
Los Angeles-based PlayVS has experienced great growth since its founding four years ago in 2018. While traditional team sports participation and viewership continue to decline, gaming and high school e-sports continue to grow. The national average for esports program sizes has already reached 28 students per year. school, which puts it on par with popular traditional sports after just three years, Parnell said.
“Sport has always been a cornerstone of the academic experience,” Brandon Snow, senior vice president and head of Activision Blizzard esports, said in a statement. “A strong academic esports program helps foster a sense of community and positivity that is a driving passion of Activision Blizzard Esports. We are excited to work with PlayVS to bring Hearthstone and Overwatch to colleges across North America and develop the next generation of professional players.
The PlayVS spring season starts with pre-season on January 31, 2022 and runs until the end of April. Schools interested in starting an e-sports program should visit PlayVS.com to sign up. The registration deadline is February 11, as the regular season begins on February 14. Matches are played every week on Wednesdays.
PlayVS has raised more than $ 107 million to date. It has more than 550,000 registered users and 12,000 competing teams. More than 62,000 matches have been played and the company has grown to 17 times. And a total of 212 state champions have been elected.
PlayVS has official, exclusive status with every game on its platform, acquires the rights and functions in the right way. Publishers did not have any of these agreements or infrastructure in place previously. There was no strategy present, schools did not have programs, and no states approved the concept of e-sports from an association point of view.
PlayVS operates with 26 state associations. The proportion of team sports at the youth level has fallen from 45% in 2008 to 38% in 2018, which underlines the decline in the level of interest among children.
Children playing e-sports in PlayVS leagues have noticed improvements in educational performance, an increase in socialization, better grades, and higher attendance rates. More than $ 500,000 in scholarships have been paid out in the last four years. PlayVS now has a team of 120 people across the United States
PlayVS is now entering its eighth season. The company tried a competitive program at the university level, but it recently shut it down. That program reached 35% of high schools after three seasons. But it found the market was too fragmented, which is why it decided to reinvest in the high school platform instead, Parnell said.
“We have the best high school program,” Parnell said. “The majority of colleges that have esports programs operate with PlayVS.”
And in high school, the company benefits from its exclusive offerings, including a few that have not been revealed yet. It also has agreements to play on school campuses with state and district support. It cooperates with the National Federation of State High School Associations in 26 states.
“This means that e-sports is now sanctioned just as it is with basketball, football, where children can compete for a state championship,” he said.
Some games do not go well at the high school level. Violent games like Call of Duty are maturely rated and are therefore not as appropriate for the younger players in high school. PlayVS focuses on games that have a teenager or lower rating with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
PlayVS does not have to pay publishers to use games in their esports programs, as it helps these publishers create engagement with younger fans.
“They are very focused on making sure that every single kid who is excited about their title and who wants to play on PlayVS can do it,” Parnell said. “We agree that competition and community are the reason people enjoy sports, and that’s why people enjoy video games. PlayVS combines both of these things in product form. And today we deliver it in high school e. “But in the future, PlayVS may be a place where any player can compete and engage with their friends and build new relationships.”
As for the pandemic, e-sports grew more online as shutdowns occurred, Parnell said, and the company encouraged schools to increase their participation even though they had budgetary challenges.
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