In a first for Australian esports and an intriguing venture for gaming overall, the Melbourne-based esports team ORDER has announced that fans will be able to buy a stake in the club through an equity crowdfunding campaign.
Equity crowdfunding licenses are still fairly new in Australia: Australian law was only changed in late September to accommodate crowdsourced funding, and the corporate regulator only began issuing licenses from January this year.
Opening a team up for investment, mind you, isn't exactly new. More and more teams are being bought by corporate interests, such as venture capital firms or, more recently, sports teams. The difference with ORDER's campaign is that it's targeted at fans, who can register an expression of interest to invest through the Birchal platform.
A snap of the pitch from ORDER's equity crowdfunding campaign
A large part of the pitch relies on using the crowdfunding to invest in ORDER's team house, expanding it into a headquarters that would contain "themed gaming lounges", a bespoke studio for tournaments and events, and office space that would "be open to all of the gaming community". There's also a pitch about blending gaming culture alongside music, art and fashion, although neither the media release or the official campaign page goes into detail about how that would be achieved.
Fans will supposedly be "prioritised over other potential investors when an offer is made", although the language of the site and release notes that general investors will be able to join the campaign.
It'll be interesting to see how the campaign goes, and what ORDER's distribution of equity looks like down the line. The campaign reminds me of Enfield Town, the first fully fan-owned football club in the UK, and AFC Wimbledon which is majority owned by a supporters' trust.