The digital nature of the world of esports creates ‘unique opportunities’ for talent and influencers to benefit from value in sponsorship, according to esports and entertainment attorney Justin Jacobson.

Speaking to ZenSports’ Mark Thomas in the latest edition of the Ball and Chain Podcast, Jacobson discussed why the legal esports space is ‘more mature’ than that of traditional sports.

Defining how esports differs from traditional sports, he explained: “For those uninitiated, esports is professional video games where individuals or teams of individuals are playing in a video game, whether it’s Fortnite, Call of Duty, Overwatch or League of Legends substantial amounts of money – sometimes six or seven figures. So, it’s a huge evolving area.

“What I thought was nice and what let me transition from the entertainment, music and sport world that I came from into esports and gaming was a lot of the similarities.”

Esports athletes and teams have unlocked new opportunities, with the possibility to exploit digital assets, and name and likeness.

“A lot of the legal protections and concepts that you might have for a pro-athlete or a musician or a DJ were applicable to a pro-gamer or streamer or team where you want to protect your gamer tag the same way you protect your DJ or artist name, and the same way you have a logo that’s used on your merchandise.

“Realistically, the only difference is you’re playing Madden on the video game as opposed to playing football on the football field.”

Most notably, Verizon introduced the hit video game Fortnite to the 2021 Super Bowl to elevate fan engagement during the pandemic, and more professional athletes, from the National Football League (NFL) to the National Basketball Association (NBA), are taking advantage of esports.

“It really came down to understanding the way some of these different businesses differentiate because in this digital world, there’s a lot of unique opportunities that might not exist for a football player,” Jacobson added. “You’re not going to be able to sell a digital skin or an in-game item that has an esports team or a gamer’s name on it.

“We saw a Vikings player that was brought into Fortnite but that’s the rare case, whereas a lot of teams and a lot of top players are incorporated into the game in some fashion.”

Why are there more ‘unique opportunities’ in esports than traditional sports?