It may be time to get in on gaming.
With the Fortnite World Cup champion taking home $3 million in prize money — the largest-ever dollar amount won by an individual at an esports event — and global revenues from professional esports competitions projected to top $1 billion this year, investors might be looking for a piece of the action.
Luckily, "there is certainly an investment case for it," as well as several exchange-traded fund products offering ways to play the space, says Todd Rosenbluth, senior director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA.
They include the VanEck Vectors Video Gaming and eSports ETF, ticker ESPO, up nearly 27% this year; the ETFMG Video Game Tech ETF, ticker GAMR, up about 6%; and the Roundhill BITKRAFT Esports & Digital Entertainment ETF, ticker NERD, up less than 1% since its launch on June 4.
ESPO, which is outperforming the S&P 500 so far this year, holds shares of 25 companies in its portfolio. GAMR has underperformed the broader market year to date and holds upward of 85, a majority of which are based in Asia. Newcomer NERD holds 25 stocks, many of which are also based in Asia.
In the case of these three very different funds, "you really need to take a look at what's inside the portfolio," Rosenbluth said Monday on CNBC's "ETF Edge." "You get companies that are clear plays on this, like Activision Blizzard, and then you've got companies like Nvidia that have exposure to esports but obviously lots of other segments, too."
To Rosenbluth, ESPO was a good way to get "concentrated" exposure to esports, whereas GAMR was "a global play" on the growing video gaming and esports industry.
But, for Tim Seymour, founder and chief investment officer at Seymour Asset Management, one stock stood out as a better bet on esports growth than the rest.
"If I want to own ... arguably the global incubator for gaming and esports, it's Tencent," he said in the same "ETF Edge" interview. "It's 30% of their revenues. They're seeing [a compound annual growth rate] of roughly 32%. They own 40% of Epic Games, which is Fortnite. So, depending how deep in the weeds you want to go on this, ... I think you really do have some ETFs that can take it even further than that."
Seymour's bottom line? "Esports are absolutely here," and "buying the longer-term players that are not really priced for growth anymore" might be investors' best move.
ESPO, GAMR and NERD were all down by less than 1% by the end of Monday's trading session.