Why Austin may be the country’s next esports hub

Between streamers, esports facilities, and gaming companies, Austin is making a name for itself in the gaming industry.

A rendering of Oni Studios, with a couch and a staircase in the foreground. The walls are colorfully painted in a graffiti-style mural.

Oni Studios opened in Cedar Park earlier this year.

Photo provided to Austonia/ATXtoday by Oni Studios

Add gaming to the list of things Austin is becoming known for.

Esports — electronic sports, including games like “League of Legends” and “Fortnite” — have ballooned in popularity in recent years. The industry draws an audience of ~530 million viewers worldwide and is expected to reach $1.5 billion in revenue this year.

Austin, as ever, appears to be on the cutting edge of this new industry. Let’s break it down.

New facilities

Several new esports lounges have opened in the Capital City in recent years, including:

  • Oni Studios | This 30,000-sqft Cedar Park facility founded by popular streamer Ali “SypherPK” Hassan is the largest of its kind in the country.
  • Alienware Longhorn Esports Lounge | UT Austin plans to add a 3,300-sqft
    esports arena in the Texas Union, in addition to the new high-tech
    gaming lounge.
  • Gamers First | Housed in former NFL player Kenny Vaccaro’s South Congress gym, the Kollective, the Gamers First esports team competes in Halo and Destiny. Read our interview with Vaccaro to learn more.
A gaming setup at the Kollective

The top floor of the Kollective gym is filled with gaming and livestreaming setups.

Photo by ATXtoday

Top streamers

Behind Irvine, CA, Austin is considered the No. 2 best city in the US for gamers. Some of the top streamers in Central Texas include:

  • Sodapoppin, YouTuber and former co-owner of Northern Gaming
  • Mizkif, founder of gaming organization One True King
  • Chess grandmaster Hans Niemann

Gaming companies

You thought we just played games in Austin? No, we make them too.

Between “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” some of the biggest games in the industry have origins in the Capital City-based companies. Here are just a few:

  • Unity | This game development software company is valued at ~9.75 billion.
  • Aspyr Media | This company helped produce “The Sims 2” and the “Call of Duty” series.
  • Blizzard Entertainment | The “World of Warcraft” producer only has two US headquarters: Austin and Irvine, CA.
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