UTA’s Ophir Lupu on the Rising Global Prominence of Video Games

Ophir Lupu
Alex J. Berliner/UTA

In 2020, the global video games market saw nearly $180 billion in revenue, up 23% from 2019, and is projected to surpass the $200 billion mark in 2023, per Newzoo.

Before then, the industry had already been growing year over year for more than a decade — a trend Ophir Lupu, a partner and the head of video games at UTA, is laser-focused on helping to continue.

“Our client base is really diverse and global in nature,” said Lupu on the most recent episode of Variety’sStrictly Business” podcast. “One of the areas that we’re always focused on representing is really, incredibly young and talented new studios.”

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“We’re really interested in not just representing the biggest and best names,” he continued. “It’s an honor to represent those folks, [but] it’s important to us to make sure that we represent the next wave of creators in the space.”

Lupu is committed to expanding UTA’s international reach, recently signing Nyamakop, the South African developer behind 2018’s “Semblance” and UTA’s first client in the region.

Lupu is heavily involved in raising capital and negotiating M&A deals for studios as well, recently aiding “Don’t Starve” developer Klei Entertainment in the sale of a majority stake to Chinese media and tech giant Tencent in January 2021.

Lupu was also catapulted into the esports space upon UTA’s acquisition of Press X and Everyday Influencers in 2018, which added 90 professional esports athletes and livestreamers to UTA’s portfolio.

Prior to that, Lupu invested heavily in leading esports organization Cloud9, a big player in tournaments for “League of Legends” and other games popular across esports.

“[Cloud9], which was our first investment in esports, our first investment in gaming, frankly, really gave us this incredible front-row seat to what was going on in the esports world,” said Lupu. “Whether it was on the pro player side or the content creation side, I think it really helped give us even more certainty that we needed to be in [esports] in a deeper way.”

Throughout the conversation, Lupu expanded on how clients from Hollywood have approached him to help get their games made and how the pandemic enabled UTA to ramp up cross-sector collaborations utilizing the virtual opportunities provided by video games.

Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.