PlayVS, the startup bringing esports leagues to high schoolers, has raised $50 million in its Series C funding round. The Santa Monica-based company gained heavy traction last year when it raised $15 million and $30 million in consecutive funding rounds.
Parents may see Fortnite, NBA 2K and other hit games as a distraction to their kids, but video games are opening opportunities for teenagers that previous generations can only imagine. At least 20 colleges and universities in the U.S. now have varsity esports teams and PlayVS wants to get high schoolers ready for the leagues. Institutions like Hampton University are also building out curriculums to offer esports as a concentration.
The esports market is set to hit a market value of more than $1 million this year and companies like PlayVS could ensure that the industry is lucrative for years to come.
PlayVS is a platform looking to regulate high school esports, providing structure to an otherwise loosely controlled gaming environment. PlayVS began by partnering with the National Federation of High School Associations to build out rules last year.
PlayVS has raised $96 million in a little over a year, highlighting a notable interest in esports on a high school level. The newest round of funding comes ahead of PlayVS’s Fall Season which started October 21.
Schools across the country can now sign up to compete in a short list of games for $64 per player. Previously, PlayVS was only available to student teams in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Texas through endorsements from their respective state athletic and activity associations.
More schools from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. now have state endorsements and are eligible to compete for PlayVS’s State Championship in the upcoming season. School teams who are not state-endorsed can battle for regional PlayVS Championships.
PlayVS is also growing internally. The company currently has 41 employees and plans to double by the end of 2019 to keep up with the number of schools engaged on the platform.
“This fresh round of funding will help PlayVS to grow even faster and support the launch of new competitive experiences beyond ‘Seasons’ in the high school market,” said Delane Parnell, founder and CEO of PlayVS. “Our Series C also gives us a license to be bold as we set out to capture more of the amateur esports space.
It is unclear if PlayVS plans to extend partnership to middle school students or colleges and universities.