Over the course of the past half-decade, we have seen the video game industry eclipse that of movies and music combined. And it shows no signs of slowing down. While the world expects the economy to reopen within the next few months (we hope!) it follows that the gaming industry’s affordable recreation has skyrocketed in the interim, and it is expected to continue to soar.
Enter James Paul Baratta; a former civil litigation attorney from southern California. In the past few years, Baratta has proven himself to be a high level connector, educator, entrepreneur, and strategist. His esports deals have penetrated all facets of the industry—from advising Grammy-winning talent on in-game live events, to brokering deals with Forbes-listed orgs. Baratta has demonstrated an ability to maneuver through the complexities of business life and add tremendous value to his projects.
Baratta first worked as an attorney under the tutelage of his own father, esteemed trial attorney Jim Baratta, in Orange County. He then left the legal world after 7 years. He turned his sights on the emerging industry of video games—something he indicates has been a passion since childhood, when he would play SNES with his big brother. Now an accomplished esports professional, for the past several years Baratta has had his hands in front page deals from every angle of the industry.
Baratta transitioned into the video game industry in 2017 by creating his consultancy practice FT Empire LLC, through which he networked to find his first projects. As a gaming enthusiast, he educated non endemic clients on ecosystem nuances. These deals manifested in live stream events to promote charitable causes, in-game concerts with top-tier publishers, and tournament streaming agreements.
He then spent 2019 working closely with investor Dave Chen, better known as FaZe Panda. The two co-founded a nonprofit, the North American Collegiate League, which has attracted high-level partners from traditional sports and media including hall of farmers, gold medalists, and accomplished c-suite executives of Fortune 500 companies. Also, in 2019, Baratta was introduced to software developer Wizard Labs, where he expanded his consulting practice away from solely advising talent.
As the head of Wizard’s brand and strategy, he grew the company to over 200,000 subscribers by leveraging his significant social media assets on Instagram, TikTok, Discord, and more. Of note, Wizard’s impressive iOS app features a first class editing tool and social platform for next gen gamers.
In 2020, Santa Monica creative agency VY Esports retained Baratta for their new brand: UPROXX EDGE in partnership with GameStop and sponsored by American Eagle. EDGE launched with a 5-hour livestream featuring Team Liquid, FaZe Clan, GamerDoc, and more. Additionally, just this past year, it was announced that Baratta has followed the footsteps of his friend and mentor Clinton Sparks and has become an advisor and investor in competitive org and lifestyle brand XSET Gaming.
Nowadays, his biggest challenge is time. Baratta relates that there are so many things he wants to be a part of that it is a challenge for him in having to say no sometimes. “I wouldn’t say I am oversubscribed, but there is certainly a lot going on. It is kind of nice to think back to when I would get excited for a single phone call in the week. I see my current schedule as a sign of success and the culmination of years of hard work. And I am just incredibly thankful to my parents, my family, and most importantly, my fiance, for their unwavering support.”
As for his future, Baratta continues to advise talent, teams, and developers through FT Empire. Most recently, he has aligned himself with the University of California Irvine, where he accepted a professorship to teach in their esports tract. As an Orange County native, he is excited for the opportunity to give back to his local community. Baratta hopes his post with UCI leads to more opportunities in education and mentorship. “It certainly fills me with purpose to provide resources and opportunities to the next generation of gamers. It’s something I hope to continue for years to come.”