Author Archives: Jordan Crook

With investors knocking, PlayVS opens the door to a $30M Series B

PlayVS, the company bringing esports infrastructure to high schools across the country, has today announced the close of a $30.5 million Series B financing. The round was led by Elysian Park Ventures, the investment arm of the L.A. Dodgers, with participation from five existing investors, including New Enterprise Associates, Science Inc., Crosscut Ventures, Coatue Management and WndrCo.

New investors also joined in on the round, including Adidas (the company’s first esports investment), Samsung NEXT, Plexo Capital, as well as angel investors such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, David Drummond, DST Global partner Rahul Mehta, Michael Dubin and others.

It’s certainly worth noting that PlayVS raised a $15 million Series A just six short months ago. Founder and CEO Delane Parnell explained that this Series B was an opportunistic raise, as the company received a lot of inbound from investors to get a slice of the next round.

“This gives us much more stability and runway so that we can hire more senior employees and leadership,” said Parnell. “It also gives us a bit of a war chest to let the team go out and work their strategies.”

Alongside the raise, PlayVS also announced new game partnerships, bringing Rocket League and SMITE into the company’s portfolio. Rocket League and SMITE join League of Legends, which was added to the platform two months ago.

PlayVS launched early this year with a relatively novel approach to the esports world. Instead of focusing on the current esports space, PlayVS realized there was a huge opportunity to bring infrastructure to the esports landscape in high school. As more and more esports careers are created through investment by colleges (via scholarships) and esports orgs, PlayVS gives students a place to show off their skills and get in front of recruiters.

The first step in the process was establishing a partnership between PlayVS and the NHFS, which is essentially the NCAA of high school sports. Through that partnership, PlayVS handles team schedules, district league schedules, coaching clinics and referees, and sets up an in-person live spectator event for the State Championship at the end of the year.

Right now, the company is in the midst of its Season Zero, testing out the platform with a small number of states — Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — in preparation for the official Inaugural Season, which will begin in 2019. Today, PlayVS is adding Alabama (AHSAA), Mississippi (MISSHSAA) and parts of Texas (TCSAAL).

But the growth of the company is largely dependent on states and school districts, which is why PlayVS is announcing the launch of Club Leagues. Club Leagues is identical to the PlayVS sports league product, except there is no State Championship at the end. Still, students who do not yet have access to the official PlayVS sports league can create teams, join up and play matches.

Eventually, Parnell says, the company will phase out Club Leagues as soon as official sports leagues are available to those players.

Sony filed a patent for a touchscreen-equipped PlayStation controller

According to a patent application continuation filed in 2017 and published recently, Sony may have tentative plans to build out a touchscreen-equipped PlayStation controller.

Whether the value added from having a touchscreen right on the controller will be worth the added cost is not yet clear.

Right now, PlayStation controllers have a touch-enabled center button that allows users to navigate through menus and other activities with a touch-based interface. The center button also lets gamers access more information, such as game stats, when clicked.

This patent application also leaves us wondering what type of content might be displayed on the touchscreen. As you can imagine, controller content could include in-game information that is usually shown on a heads-up display on the main screen.

However, it’s far more likely that a touchscreen-equipped PlayStation controller would offer a new interface for console-based information and actions, such as sharing a video broadcast or dealing with incoming invites and friend requests.

Interestingly, Nintendo’s own experiment with a touchscreen-enabled controller failed miserably. Remember the Wii U? Nintendo eventually corrected the mistake with the launch of the Switch, which has found its place among casual gamers as a sort of hybrid console and sold more than 20 million units since launch.

Of course, Sony’s touchscreen controller is nothing more than a patent application for now, so there’s a solid chance that the same controllers we’ve grown to know and love ship alongside the next-gen PlayStation with no update to be seen. But just in case someone at Sony decides to get inventive, the patent is in place for the company to start thinking about touchscreen controllers.

Reports suggest that the next-generation Sony console could arrive as early as 2019 or as late as 2021.

[via DualShockers]