By Zane Bhansali
Rapper and entrepreneur DeAndre "Soulja Boy" Cortez Way has a new venture: gaming.
Soulja Boy announced in December that he was planning to start an esports franchise, citing the wildly popular streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins as a possible collaborator.
In December, Soulja Boy even said he might sign Ninja to his organization ー but he's since revised his stance.
Although Soulja Boy commented that Ninja is a "great friend," he said that he is envisioning a different type of player for his team.
"We're looking for the up-and-coming, 16 or 17-year old ー hungry, with a goal, with a passion, with a dream," Soulja Boy said. "That's who I want to join my esports franchise."
Way listed Overwatch, Gears of War, and Super Smash Bros. as potential games he wants to explore for his team and added that he plans to compete at the highest level in due time.
"We're going to get our feet wet, we'll get to that point," he said. "We definitely want to build it from the ground up ... and be able to compete with those bigger teams. We just have to work our way up the ranks."
Soulja Boy said he's currently developing a video game that he described as "Grand Theft Auto mixed with Fortnite mixed with Halo," adding, "you gotta take the best of each world and put it all in one game."
Soulja Boy recently released a series of game consoles amid serious controversy. The first two, the "SouljaGame Console" and "Soulja Game Handheld," were marketed as being capable of playing "Switch/3DS/Vita/NEOGEO/GBC/Gameboy/GBA" games and having hundreds of games already loaded ー raising questions of their legality.
Soulja Boy's systems were retailed through his online store for the relatively cheap prices of $149 and $99, respectively. However, commenters were quick to point out that the items in question were in fact rebranded systems from developer Anbernic that were available through Chinese online retailer AliExpress for significantly lower prices. What's more, both consoles were simply emulators capable of playing games from first-party publishers.
As of publication, Way has stopped selling both consoles, and his former website, souljagame.com, now redirects to the page for Nintendo's handheld 3DS console.
Way has since revealed another version of the SouljaGame Handheld. However, it seems to be yet another rebranded emulator, this with an eerily similarity to Sony's Playstation Vita. Nevertheless, Way is optimistic about his future in the console market.
"I have a passion for this," he told Cheddar Sports. "This is not about the money for me. I really want to create a video game console. I really want to create a character in the image that could be compared to Sonic [the Hedgehog] as Sonic is for Sega and Mario is for Nintendo. We could have a little Soulja for the SouljaGame."