By Todd Harris (@toddalanharris)

CEO of Skillshot Media, co-founder of Hi-Rez Studios and Tech Alpharetta board member

This weekend more than 30,000 gamers and industry professionals will arrive in Atlanta for Dreamhack Atlanta 2019 and the Esports Summit. Open to the public, both events will promote the future of gaming, esports and digital entertainment in the southeast.

But, just how big is this space? Esports is projected to be a billion-dollar industry by the end of 2019. Its exponential growth is driven by significant investments from media companies, celebrities and brands aiming to connect with the loyal and highly-engaged customer base. With viewers on the decline for traditional sports, we’re seeing leagues, such as the NBA and NFL as well as the sports association, FIFA, join in on the action.

Companies, in general, are spending too much on platforms such as TV commercials, which remain a safe, but not effective choice to help move products or services compared to new media forms. In today’s noisy world, the scarcest resource is attention. Every company is competing for attention and relevancy. Gaming and esports capture the attention of the most coveted demographic – the young millennials and gen-z audience. The more than 200 million people watching live esports on Twitch.TV, make it a larger medium than global broadcast networks, such as CNN. Esports allows brands to meet consumers where they are most passionate and engaged.

From a statewide economic perspective, there are more than 4,000 employees and 160 gaming studios in Georgia. Last year alone, esports generated an estimated $800 million in the state, with involvement from professional teams, including the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United and leading companies such as Coca-Cola, Turner and Cox Enterprises. Atlanta is also home to the Atlanta Reign, one of 20 teams in the Overwatch League, the first major-city based esports league.

As the esports industry continues to evolve, its stigma will be replaced by the positive cultural and personal character it fosters when delivered with purpose and balance. Stakeholders, such as myself, are committed to promoting the same positive benefits commonly associated with traditional sports that players receive from a balanced approach to esports – teamwork, communication, mastery and resilience.

If you’re interested in checking out what the gaming and esports hype is all about, join us this weekend. The Hi-Rez Expo at DreamHack Atlanta welcomes fans to experience the SMITE and Paladins World Championships in-person. There will be exclusive Hi-Rez Expo panels, meet-and-greets, significant development updates from all Hi-Rez games, playable stations, cosplay and, of course, in-game swag, all powered by Skillshot Media.

I hope to see everyone at the World Congress Center, Nov. 14 – 17, 2019.

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