As the esports industry is gaining popularity and publicity, the LA-startup, PlayVS has just made history by bringing Fortnite, one of the most popular video games throughout the world, into high schools and colleges as an official sport. “More than 13,000 schools have already applied to get a varsity esports team through PlayVS. In comparison, a little over 14,000 high schools in the country have a football program,” highsnobriety.com reports.
In order to make this happen, PlayVS has partnered with Epic Games to bring a competitive league into high school and collegiate levels. PlayVS launched in April 2018 with a mission of bringing esports to high school, with a league similar to traditional sports like basketball or football. Through a partnership with the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations), high schools pay $64 per player to be placed in a league to compete with neighboring schools, just like any other sport.
PlayVS had gone one step ahead of their competition by getting partnerships with the publishers of the game. These publisher partnerships also allow PlayVS to productize the experience in a way that requires almost no lift for schools and organizations. Players simply sign into PlayVS and get dropped into their scheduled match. At the end, PlayVS pulls stats and insights directly from the match, which can be made available to the players, coaches, fans and even recruiters. Additionally, “the company has raised $96 million since launch,” techcrunch.com reported.
For colleges, PlayVS has to go directly to individual schools to pitch their technology. Luckily, it’s the most popular game in the world, and at a time when colleges are looking to incorporate esports scholarships and programs for students. “Millions of people are already playing Fortnite – it’s become a part of culture. We hope adding the title to our game lineup and expanding platform access to colleges inspires the gamer in everyone to get involved in their school’s programs,” Delane Parnell, founder and CEO of PlayVS, said.
The first season of Fortnite competitions will be free for registered users, courtesy of the partnership with Epic Games. Registration for the first season closes on Feb. 17 for high schools, and Feb. 24 for colleges and universities. The season officially kicks off on Mar 2.
The format for competition will be duos, and organizations can submit as many teams of two as they like. The top duos will be invited to the playoffs with a chance to win a spot in the championship round in May.
MCPS has not reported any participation. There are esports summer camps throughout the DMV, but due to high costs and lack of resources, schools are still not willing to join this new wave of esports.