Disruptive Technologies For eSports: 3D Printing


3D Printer (Photo: KaboomPics)

3D Printer (Photo: KaboomPics)

TNL Industry Guest Post 007: Over the past 13 years, Anton Ferraro has helped develop numerous esports focused properties including tournament broadcasts, television programs, streaming platforms, branded campaigns, digital products & live event activations.

Anton began his career in 2004 by organizing and playing at local Halo events and shortly thereafter joined Major League Gaming to assist their media efforts. After 8 years with the company Anton transitioned to the West Coast and helped build the Azubu streaming platform as Director of Content.

Anton currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and pug. Too much of his time is spent playing Overwatch. You can view his work at www.AntonFerraro.com

TNL Take:  In the last post I explored the potential impact of the Ethereum Blockchain across a few different verticals and will have a follow up post shortly.  Today we’ll examine opportunities 3D printing can provide within eSports.



In the late 00’s a group of entrepreneurs saw that the cost of delivering a video stream over a network was falling exponentially. At the same time, the proliferation of high speed internet and Moore's Law were allowing an increasing number of hobbyists to engage in the activity.

After a few years of hard work, a few pivots and the ever-needed bit of luck, Twitch sold to Amazon for ~$1B and currently sits as one of the top websites in the world.

3D printing is an industry which mirrors that of streaming.

The technology for printing is becoming exponentially better while the cost to participate is falling. This is allowing an increasing amount of hobbyists to create increasingly more impressive offerings. Digital hubs like MyMiniFactory and support networks like Patreon are allowing some of these hobbyists to generate revenue.

The decentralized nature of the activity will provide opportunities for content creators while challenging IP owners.

The situation parallels the early days of YouTube when video creators utilized IP’s belonging to publishers to create their own content. Heavy handed reproaches by the IP owners were not effective for a multitude of reasons and it took years for the platforms, creators, and IP owners to find a balance all three parties could accept.

Ultimately the IP owners aka Game Publishers realized that free content was an ongoing advertising campaign they could use to greatly increase revenue [Edit: Read this line again and again]

Publishers shifted their product development cycles and created DLC (Downloadable Content) and the GAAS (Games As A Service) business model started padding their bottom lines.

Early movers like TSM and OpTic Gaming built highly engaged followings off the video niche and are still reaping the rewards of that effort. While I expect it will take a few years for the 3D printing vertical to mature, as always early movers may score similar gains.



3D printing will impact eSports by improving the product design and distribution aspects of merchandising. The current merchandising model imposes limits on experimentation and requires long turn around periods for heavily customized gear.

eSports owners are frequently limited by the options offered by their suppliers which has caused a glut of similar items such as the same t-shirts, hats, keychains, hats, and posters.



Adding a 3D printing capabilities will allow eSports teams to capitalize on time sensitive tentpole events. Having a subject matter expert designing the gear in house will both shorten the design cycle and increase the authenticity of the item:

  • Custom bobble heads for new roster additions
  • Commemorative medals based on tournament victories
  • Supporting merchandise for viral content

The latest generation of 3D printers are also capable of printing complex electronic components. Once this tech hits the prosumer level it will be possible to create merchandise that can interface with digital libraries to provide additional value to the customer. [Edit: Hi Amazon and the NFL]




The current model is a pipeline of injection mold design, mass production, and distribution via international shipping.

Injection molds are expensive to produce.

Only after selling a specified amount of merchandise does the designer hit a break even point that pays for the injection mold.

The 3D printing model does not require injection molds and eliminates the risks associated with minimum product and the need to accurately forecast demand. This makes it economically viable to profit from small batches of items and scale up if and when a greater demand materializes.

3D printing is already seeing factories and prosumer level printers offering their services in many areas around the globe. This moves the responsibility of distribution costs and logistics away from designers and allows them to focus on the product.



Would You? (Photo: Someone On The Internet)

Would You? (Photo: Someone On The Internet)

As with any disruptive technology there are legal and hardware hurdles that need need to be overcome:

  • 3D printing is the perfect storm of patent, IP and privacy law
  • Printers need to get faster & cheaper
  • The technology needs to be more consumer friendly


Despite these challenges I believe the momentum of the 3D printing industry will force the existing status-quo to be transformed as it was with eSports video and live streaming.

eSports Week In Review and 50+ Brands Update


The Netherlands National eSports League (Photo: Eredivisie)

TNL eSports Podcast 014 (Photo: The Next Level)


2017: 5 Endemic Brand Deals

I've also updated the 2016: (now) 50+ Non-Endemic Brand list which includes the following Brands and apologies for the initial omission:

  • Brisk Mate
  • Lyft
  • Best Buy
  • Wal-Mart
  • Totino's

Also as promised, here are 3 different ways to get a high res version of the 2016 eSports and Non-Endemic Brand List:

TNL.MEDIA: TNL Infographic 023: 2016 50+ Non-Endemic Brands

IMGUR: 2016: 50+ Non-Endemic Brands

SLIDESHARE: 2016: 50+ Non-Endemic Brands

2016 50+ Non-Endemic Brands eSports Investment (Infographic: The Next Level)

Is It Time To Pay Attention To VR In eSports (Photo: HTC)

TNL eSports Industry Guest Podcast 002 (Photo: The Next Level)

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 003: McDonald's and EA Madden NFL (Photo: EA Sports)




eSports Investment Continues To Roll


ESWC 2015 (Photo: ESWC)

TNL Take: At least we got Monday off.

After the slew of eSports investments over the past two weeks

the pace is not slowing down.

French company Webedia announced that they are acquiring Oxent, owner of both ESWC, Electronic Sports World Cup, and Toornament, an eSports tournament platform, as well as involvement with top Ligue 1 Team PSG.  Webedia has partnerships and JV's in Gaming with IGN, Gamestar and GamePro.

My High School French is pretty poor as well so let's translate what that means:


/01 ESWC

ESWC 2015 (Photo: ESWC)

ESWC is one of Europe's oldest eSports tournaments dating back to 2003 as well as the largest in France.

ESWC has also passed through a number of hands after being originally created by French company, Ligarena.  In 2009, ESWC was sold to Games-Solution, which was then bought by Oxent in 2012 and now owned by Webedia in 2016.



Toornament and MLG (Photo: Toornament)

Toornament is an eSports tournament platform similar to Faceit or Battlefy.

Toornament was one of the earliest platforms launching back in 2014. They've recently powered major tournaments from League of Legends to Events like MLG Columbus.


 /03 PSG FC

Ligue 1 Pro Team PSG FC

Now here is where it gets really interesting.

Between Webedia's Media properties, the value of both Events (ESWC) and Platform (Toornament) becomes obvious.

Now take this a step further.

Webedia also invested in Bang Bang Management, an eSports Athlete representation company which coincidentally represents.....EA FIFA Athletes.


I can't paint the picture more clearly.


 Combined with all of those assets, Webedia is now advising PSG FC on their eSports strategy.