Stephen Ellis “Snoopeh” talks with Mark Register about the steps we need to take to protect competitive gaming players
So where are we with the player unions?
It’s a very loaded question at a whole. I was a huge advocate…I was very misguided when I first came out saying we should have unions and protect the players. A Union is a very loaded organization or entity.
I think there are steps that we can take before going there and we’re starting to see those steps coming to play.
When I went to investigate this early last year I was really looking heavily into unions and associations and agencies. I believe that the first steps towards a full on union or some kind of entity like it is players getting lawyers to vet their contracts…but it can cost you.
Some lawyers are doing pro bono but you’re probably talking about 200 – 400 bucks an hour for a good lawyer to vet your contract which may seem like a lot of money but if you’re signing a contract that’s over six figures it’s really not that much money in the grand scheme of things.
I think a lot of players are starting to but the large majority are not, but they’re starting to get lawyers to vet their contract and that’s the intermediary phase.
The next phase would be individual player representation. So players will start to get agents. And your top players are getting agents to a degree. It’s not really a viable business model.
I looked at it myself, thinking can I just start a create agency? It’s not really a very scalable business model nor a profitable one at the present time. But players salaries are increasing 200 to 300 percent over the past year so there’s going to be a more viable business model to have agencies and agents within the space once we transition. Even as that’s happening we could also have some sort of association which links to my tag line which is “educate, support, and advocate” the talent in the industry.
I think that entity could prop up and then maybe…it’s no one’s responsibility to make that happen necessarily but a large brand, investor, or even a third party platform could essentially say, look we love this space we want to gain credibility in this space and we want to do something positive. They could look to allocate some money towards creating an entity that looks to provide support.
If not advocacy at least education support for the players.
Mark Register – Do you think William Morris Endeavor in IMG would potentially get into that realm at all?
Stephen Ellis – I had conversations with larger agencies in the entertainment and sports industry and initially these agencies are often about the bottom line and it was more sensible to work with the larger entities like your tournament organizers, your publishers, developers, and now to an extent the teams and the players for the resources these companies like your WME’s have.
It’s not really viable to represent talent like players. That’s starting to change and you may see them bring on more agents to help accommodate the vast amount of work they are getting. I think that will happen over the course of the next year.
I would very much…I’m pretty sure WME is going to pick up some talent agents over the next year to focus more specifically on that. I would like it to be more competitive though.
I would like other larger agencies to get involved in space because there should be an element of competition with WME. It’s good for everyone. It’s good for WME if there’s competition as well so I would like to see your CAA’s or UTA’s or something like that get involved as well.