CYNOPSISeSPORTS & GAMING
It’s Thursday, August 25, 2016, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.
The World eSports Association got its face, appointing former HBO Sports President Ken Hershman to serve as the organization’s new Executive Chairman and Commissioner. Hershman takes over for Pietro Fringuelli, who served as Interim Commissioner since the introduction of WESA this past May. Hershman was also named Chief Executive Officer of the WESA Agency, the media arm of the organization.
"On behalf of all the WESA member teams, we’re excited about Ken’s appointment,” said Wouter Sleijffers, CEO of Fnatic. “Ken brings a wealth of experience we see as critical step in our ambition to organize and define standards for this rapidly expanding industry. We look forward to working with Ken, his team and the newly appointed Player Council to building a world-class organization.”
“Esports isn’t just the future it’s the present,” said Hershman. “I’m excited about the challenge and confident my experience can help benefit everyone involved in WESA, including players, teams and leagues, as we work to build bridges and balance collective benefits.”
COMPETITION & TOURNAMENTS
Konami announced that PES 2017 is opening the door for all owners the chance to play in the game’s official eSports league. The title will be released on Sept. 15 and now offer a dedicated mode that will allow users to partake in Official PES League matches. “As the PES series continues to go from strength to strength, we are exploring a number of ways to build its reputation within the eSports sector,” said Jonas Lygaard, Senior Director of Brand and Business Development at Konami Digital Entertainment B.V. “Later this year we will be integrating the hugely popular PES League element as a dedicated mode within PES 2017 and future iterations, allowing organized competitions to become easily accessible to absolutely anyone owning a PES title.”
Psyonix and Twitch are bringing the Rocket League Championship Series back for a second season with the tournament dangling a prize pool that swelled from $55,000 to $250,000 for the 3 month long season. The top-four teams in North America and Europe will be invited to compete for the cash. Season one saw nearly 2.3 million unique viewers over the season with over a million tuning in for the International Finals. "RLCS Season 2 is going to be awesome," says Jeremy Dunham, Vice President, Psyonix. "We learned a lot from Season 1 and so did our players, and we can’t wait to apply that knowledge to the next competition. Our newer, more simplified format and bigger prize pools are a reflection of what our viewers, pros, and community have been asking for, and we’re incredibly proud to give it to them."
Valve confirmed that it is banning coaches from participating in Counter-Strike matches at ESL/Valve events. Company exec Ido Magal announced the change to Counter-Strike’s rulesets in an email stating that "During a match, the coach may only communicate with the players during warmup, half-time, or during one of four 30 second timeouts that the coach or player can call," per Mashable. Third party tournament organizers will not be compelled to follow the rule.
PLAY Expo Manchester announced plans to host the Red Bull 5G on Oct. 8-9 for a space at the final in Nov. Gamers can choose from Hearthstone, League of Legends, Project Cars, Rocket League or Street Fighter V.
Riot Games is taking a page from the NFL in a move to open the doors to professional eSports, announcing the NA Scouting Grounds, a combine-esque event that will allow the top four players in each position on the ladder (who are older than 16 as of 2017, haven’t played more than two games as a pro and aren’t under contract) to come to LA for a week of training with professional pros and coaches.
Nintendo and ESL are bringing Splatoon competition to Europe. Announcing the move at gamescon, Nintendo execs stated that play will begin in early September and the company is now offering a free online demo of the game, aka Splatoon Summer Testfire 2016, for Wii U owners.
Advertisers hunting for opportunities in the mobile game space should get puzzled, according to a new study from Survey Monkey. A new report measuring mobile game play in July found that puzzle games draw the most engagement from users, clocking in with an average of 105 minute per month. The full report can be found here.
Digi-Capital reports that the games industry M&A topped $25 billion in total between January and July 2016 as consolidation continues to mark an all-time high. The company now forecasts games software revenue growth for the games market as a whole slowing to 7% CAGR from $91 billion in 2016 to $116 billion by 2020. Mergers and acquisitions in 2016 so far are up 12x compared to the rate of deal making in 2015. Projections forecast mobile games revenue growth of 8.1% CAGR from $35 billion in 2016 to $48 billion by 2020, with MMO/MOBA games revenue growth of only 5.2% CAGR from $24 billion in 2016 to$30 billion by 2020, as stand alone console/PC games software revenue shrinking at -3.8% CAGR from $24 billion in 2016to $21 billion by 2020.
Meanwhile, global mobile, console and free-to-play MMO segments are showing YoY growth at the expense of Social, PC DLC and Pay-to-Play MMO, according to Superdata. Overall, July 2016 Mobile revenue had the biggest YoY gain of 16.3% “due to an increasingly large audience of low-budget gamers in developing Asian economies.” On the other side of the coin, pay-to-play MMO posted the biggest contraction of 12.4%. The console market is scoring a growth rate of 11.3% due to an abundance of AAA releases in 2016, according to the company. Combined, the worldwide games market showed a growth rate of 9.5% YoY.
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Facebook is partnering up with Unity in a move to boost its gaming offerings for an “all-new PC gig platform.” The tandem will see a publishing alliance designed to streamline the development process for games published on the upcoming offering and “will allow Unity developers to quickly deliver their games to the more than 650 million players who enjoy playing Facebook-connected games every month," according to the announcement.
Sliver.tv announced the close of a $6.2 million seed round of equity funding as well as the open beta launch of its eSports entertainment platform, which “provides eSports spectators with a uniquely immersive and cinematic experience in 360° and virtual reality.” The company was founded in Fall 2015 by entrepreneurs led by Mitch Liu, co-founder of Tapjoy with seed investors now including Silicon Valley venture capital firms including DCM Ventures, Sierra Ventures, The Venture Reality Fund (VR Fund), and Japanese mobile gaming companies GREE and Colopl. Launch is set to support Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and Dota 2, reaching over 140 million monthly players globally.
Sony is taking PlayStation to the PC, with word that PlayStation Now will now be offered for Windows, launching first in Europe. The game streaming service will also offer a USB adaptor allowing gamers to use a standard PS4 controller on their computers. "This will bring a wide selection of PlayStation exclusive titles to Windows PC for the very first time, including entries in the Uncharted, God of War, and Ratchet & Clank franchises, as well as beloved PS3 games like The Last of Us and Journey," wrote Sony’s Eric Lempel, SVP of PlayStation Network, per Wired.
Speaking of Sony, PlayStation Plus prices are getting a hike, with the company adding $10 to the annual subscription rate to $60. Meanwhile, the three-month subscription rises from $18 to $25 in the US while monthly subscriptions in the US will remain at $10. "The new pricing reflects the current market conditions while enabling us to continue providing exceptional value to our members," the company said in announcing the update.
Most streamed categories for the week ending Aug. 21, per Gamoloco…
League of Legends – 19,217,006 hours watched
Hearthstone – 8,575,747
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 6,477,950
Overwatch – 5,026,120
Dota 2 – 4,684,536
World of Warcraft – 3,249,762
Gaming Talk Shows – 2,433,306
Dead by Daylight – 2,264,499
No Man’s Sky – 1,721,617
Destiny – 1,721,539
MARKETING & PROMOTION
With ELeague and FACEIT opening the doors to the Overwatch Open with streaming coverage underway on the event’s official Twitch channel. The tournament will see HyperX, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Domino’s activate around the tournament as continuing ELeague advertising partners with ASUS and GEICO also on board.
eSports staple Matt ‘Nadeshot’ Haag locked in a deal with GFuel Energy. The NY-based brand has also sponsored FaZe Clan and Team Dignitas. “We have a crazy amount of ideas and concepts that we’re working on and everyone at GFUEL is excited about what we have planned,” GFuel Creative Director Skyler Johnson told Dextero. “We want to welcome Nadeshot and his incredible fans to the family.”
Black Forest Games will see Louis “LouiCM” Morton (UK), Michael “REVOLT” Eaton (UK), Nicklas “Kraqz” Brenden (Germany) and Ryan “RyanGray” Gray (UK) sport the black and green colors of the company in this year’s Call of Duty World League Championship via a new sponsorship deal. The agreement marks the first time that Black Forest Games officially supports an eSports team. “Well, we could construct a connection between Call of Duty and our game Rogue Stormers, as both are multiplayer shooter games,” said Adrian Goersch, co-founder of Black Forest Games. “But frankly, we just seized the unique opportunity to support a team of extremely skilled young players and are very proud that they will wear our colors in the world championships.”
Nintendo announced that it will take on PAX West from Sept. 2-5 with two booths, one featuring activities with Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, as well as playable games that include Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past and YO-KAI WATCH 2 and another booth dedicated to its Nindie partners showcasing playable experiences such as Punch Club (tiny Build Games), Runbow Pocket( 13AM Games), Severed (Drinkbox Studios) and World to the West (Rain Games). In addition, Nindies@Night takes place at the EMP Museum in Seattle.
Meanwhile, Square Enix activates its PAX West titles with experiences that include panels, such as Developing Rise of the Tomb raider: 20 Year Celebration, The Deus Ex Go Puzzle Rumble, Deus Ex Go & Kinda Funny Party, and Final Fantasy XV.
Sports staking and sponsorship marketplace YouStake is partnering with Rivalcade to bring the eSports industry into the crowdsourcing space. The deal will see YouStake provide Rivalcade with a registration portal and an entry fee crowdsourcing platform in a move to inject over $50,000 into Rivalcade tournament sponsorships over the next 12-18 months. “One of our visions with YouStake is for eSport fans to be able to sponsor their favorite players into tournaments, and for players to raise the capital they need to compete in larger prize pool events. This new relationship allows us to work together and tackle major problems in the vertical.” Said Frank DeGeorge, CEO, Youstake.
AMP Energy is partnering with Twitch for its new Tropical Punch flavor, which will be offered at participating 7-Eleven stores around the country starting today. Cans will be co-branded with Twitch in the platform’s purple color and marks the third co-branded can between the two companies but serves as the first time the Twitch logo has ever been used on any non-gaming retail product. “AMP Energy is excited to launch yet another great tasting energy drink the new Tropical Punch flavor in a Twitch purple, co-branded can, taking our commitment to the eSports world one step further,” said Sonika Patel, senior manager, marketing, AMP Energy. “AMP is dedicated to bringing forth the best flavor options so fans and gamers can enjoy the great taste of their energy drinks while they fuel up.”
ESL Australia locked in St. George Bank to serve as the inaugural Presenting Partner for Season Two of ESL’s National Championships in Australia and New Zealand. The ESL AU & NZ Championship, presented by St.George Bank serves a regional championship event for multiple competitive eSport games on Xbox One, PC, Tablet and Mobile. This partnership marks one of the first occurrences of support for competitive gaming in the region from a non-endemic brand.
Kinguin.net announced its sponsorship of the Ninjas in Pyjamas CS:GO team with the deal set to include the launch of a dedicated comic book that “will contain adventures of the NiP players and Kinguin – a cute penguin who will tag along and experience the world of eSports together with f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, friberg, Xizt, pyth and THREAT.”
Bud Light unveiled the second entry in a five part series, produced by Machinima, chronicling the lives of Bud Light All-Stars with a focus on Chris “Zuna” Buetchers. The video can be found on Machinima’s YouTube Channel.
Newegg is leveraging amateur eSports as it sets out for a college tour that will include 80 stops in two months. In addition to hosting a 10×20-foot tent with live DJ and a gaming lounge, attendees will be eligible to take part in Newegg’s Game Like a Pro eSports tournament, hosted by the American Video Game League on October 22. Entrants will compete for two grand prize packages valued at $2,500 each for the winners of the Hearthstone and Rocket League competitions.
GoodGame founder Alexander Garfield announced his departure from Twitch. He sold the company, which serves as the parent company to eSports franchises Evil Geniuses and Alliance, to Twitch two years ago.
Formosa Group is adding Kristoffer Larson to its team as the company continues to expand its Formosa Interactive division. Larson brings two decades of sound experience, including extensive experience in both VR and AR, and numerous award-winning games on his slate.
POWER PLAYERS: MLG’s Steve Bornstein
Nearly a year after joining Activision Blizzard following successful runs as the former CEO of ESPN and NFL Network, Steve Bornstein, now Chairman of Activision Blizzard Media Networks, made waves during the NewFronts with the announcement that the company would be launching new content, broadcast experiences and distribution partnerships for its MLG.tv streaming platform, debuting its Enhanced Viewing Experience at the event. Coming off of a thriving MLG Orlando, Bornstein spoke with Cynopsis eSports & Gaming about the company’s new initiatives, the state of MLG and how sponsors are approaching the industry.
Bornstein on Activision acquiring MLG: We really have one broadly defined goal, to build the premier content destination for eSports.
On advertisers: To be candid, we didn’t think advertisers knew just how large, engaged and passionate the audience is. It’s a cultural phenomenon. That being said, the audience is really tough to reach through traditional advertising, so we’re still educating brands on how to target these viewers and reach them through engaging content through all these distribution channels.
On content: We’re going to keep exploring new ways to celebrate these players and focus more on the human interest in eSports. One of the ways we’re doing that is we’re investing heavily in our own platform with EVE (Enhanced Viewing Experience) on MLG.tv, which we just saw great success with at the MLG Orlando Open. We’ve also deepened our collaboration with Facebook Live, and built a comprehensive program around that because we think it’s a great way for new fans to discover MLG.
On the partnership for the Gears eSports Pro Circuit: I think you can expect what Major League Gaming has become known for; building tremendous grassroots communities around games through marquee live events and the industry’s best broadcast production.
On the popularity of eSports: When ESPN got into the sports entertainment business, you already had the NFL, MLB, and NBA very well established with a set season schedule, franchises, star players. MLG is still creating the avenues for that to happen, but we’re dealing with a much less mature sports business in this case. We thankfully have an incredible team who knows the space better than anyone, we’re very optimistic about our ability to produce the highest quality content and celebrate these players.
Game Trailer of the Week: Zombies in Spaceland
Activision is giving Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare a blast from the past, with the introduction of the add-on Zombies in Spaceland. Paying homage to the 80s and following a horror director with stereotypes from the decade’s movies, the game breakdances on zombie butt amid a space-themed amusement park. The games is anchored by the voices of 80s icons David Hasselhoff and Paul Reubens, along with Seth Green, Ike Barinholtz, Jay Pharoah and Sasheer Zamata. Take a spin by clicking here.
ON THIS DAY in 1983 – Bally Manufacturing picks up the American coin-operated assets of Sega Enterprises.
Trivia: What is the name the party-happy character pictured above? (Email email@example.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: 21 years ago today, New Line released the movie version of Mortal Kombat. Which action star (who turned down the movie) was character Johnny Cage originally based upon? Answer: Jean-Claude Van Damme. . Kudos: Nick Braccia-Campfire/NY; Danny Araque/NY; Julie Shell/Virginia Beach; Rodney Atienza/Philadelphia; Glen Ross/DC; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Daniel Hanson/Vail; David Nay-Verizon/Denver; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Elena Chavira-OMD/LA.
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine
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