CYNOPSISeSPORTS & GAMING
It’s Thursday, November 3, 2016, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.
The Game Awards added to its partnership tally, announcing deals with Twitter and NextVR for the Dec. 1 ceremony from the Microsoft Theater in LA. The honors will now be shown across a record number of global screens and platforms, including a live simulcast in China, courtesy of a new alliance with Tencent. Twitter’s deal with the event, which is produced, hosted and financed by Geoff Keighley, marks the first awards show to be streamed live on the platform. Other platforms delivering the stream include: Facebook Live, which will feature a special Backstage Facebook Live Room for nominees and digital influencers to go live on their pages and interact with fans in real time; as well as PlayStation Network, Steam, Twitch, Xbox Live, and YouTube. Snapchat will once again cover The Game Awards, partnering to produce a “Live Story” that curates highlights from the awards for the platform.
“Video games have the power to unite communities from all over the world, and this year we will share the power of gaming with more people than ever before,” said Keighley. “For 2016 we will expand our all-digital, no-friction path to global distribution through partnerships that include the first live awards show broadcast on Twitter, an initiative with Tencent to bring The Game Awards live to China, and our innovative, first-of-its-kind live VR broadcast with Next VR.”
Faker and South Korean team SKT Telecom T1 got more than they bargained for from last weekend’s 2016 League of Legends World Championships. Riot announced that the prize pool for the tournament topped $5.07 million for competitors vying for the crown at Staples Center, more than doubling last year’s tally. Last year’s tournament saw over 334 million viewers tune in worldwide during the four week span, with the finals delivering 36 million. For more about worlds, check out our Q&A below.
Speaking of League of Legends, developer Riot Games will mandate that all teams participating in its North American and European League Championship Series competitions contractually employ their players and coaching staff beginning with the 2017 season, according to ESPN. The changes would mean that players participating on League Championship Series professional teams would become eligible for employee benefits, including healthcare and 401(k) retirement plans. Currently only six teams – Cloud9, H2K Gaming, Immortals, Team Liquid, Team SoloMid, and Unicorns of Love – employ their players as employees.
LA 2024, the group organizing the 2024 Olympic bid for Los Angeles, announced plans to leverage the popularity and technology of eSports to connect with millennials in its efforts to be awarded the Games. LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman stated that "we view esports’ immense global popularity and continued advances in digital technologies as tremendous tools for reconnecting millennials with the Olympic movement."
Just ahead of BlizzCon, Blizzard details plans for the World premiere of the documentary A New Hero, following the story of Mavericks, Volunteers, Huskies, and Sun Devils competing at Heroes of the Dorm in Seattle in the spring of 2016. The film will be available via Twitch, YouTube and Facebook starting Nov. 8 at 10a, while BlizzCon Virtual Ticket holds can watch early on Nov. 5 at 2:30.
Microsoft unveiled a second season of the Forza Racing Championship for the Xbox One console, with the event lining up $150,000 in cash and prizes starting on Nov. 7. The Elite Series will spotlight Forza Motorsport 6, while a Recreation Series will showcase Forza Horizon 3.
ESPN writes that Call of Duty publisher Activision is “exploring options to potentially discontinue its online Call of Duty World League competition and launch an offline league to begin in the spring of next year.” The publisher held a conference call with a slate of its 2016 World League owners, proposing competitive changes that would kick in with the release of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, with Activision running consistent offline events through the winter and early spring, awarding circuit points depending on a team’s placement, and anchored by what it tentatively referred to as the "Global Super Bowl” taking place at the Major League Gaming Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
ESL desk host and commentator Alex ‘Machine’ Richardson is parting ways with the organization. He has covered a slate of tournaments over the past year, including the CoD World League but will now move to freelance. He made the announcement over Twitter, noting It was an absolutely wild ride.”
Blizzard Entertainment renewed its inaugural sound stage rental and production service contract with Hollywood Riviera Studios for the company’s Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft Tour. Services will include sound stage space, high definition control room including the transmission for the international live streaming of tournaments, production office space, player lounges, and post production office space for round-the-clock editing. In addition, the studio will provide media space to accommodate the international press profiling the eSports players and winners from around the world.
Canada’s Elements Casino announced that it will be the first casino/racetrack in the country to host an eSports event, launching the inaugural eSports Street Fighter V Tournament on Dec. 3 as part of the Grand Opening of the Elements eSports Lounge. Located in British Columbia, the tournament partnered with Spawn Point to present the event.
GMR Marketing released a new proprietary research study on the behaviors, preferences and interests of eSports enthusiasts, in “eSports Marketing: Start with the Consumer.” The report identified three groups of eSports consumers — watchers, players, and those who do both with research showing that the three groups have different opinions about brand involvement, which should directly influence brand strategies. Findings showed that the majority of eSports fans are appreciative when brands reach out through the gaming world, while player are the most receptive to brand involvement.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
CYNOPSIS ESPORTS WEBINAR:
ESPORTS: HOW TO MAXIMIZE &
MONETIZE COMPETITIVE GAMING
ESports is ushering in a full-blown shift in entertainment and culture, but how do you maximize and monetize this phenomenon? Get the answers during our webinar on November 17, from sponsors and marketers as they share their insights into connecting with eSports fans, laying out a blueprint for how brands can reach and connect with a generation of skeptical but affluent consumers.
Facebook unveiled its own desktop gaming platform, opening the doors to Gameroom and offering users access to a slate of native web games, ported mobile games, and more. The company announced the launch and name change from Facebook Games Arcade at Unity’s game development conference, with the Unity 5.6 engine allowing developers to export games directly into Facebook Gameroom next year.
Meanwhile, Unity’s conference also saw the unveiling of the new 5.5 game engine as well as partnerships with Nintendo and Google. Nintendo’s portion saw Super Mario Run, the company’s first ever mobile game, built through Unity, while the upcoming Nintendo Switch will support the Unity engine at launch. The Google alliance will leverage Unity for its DayDream VR platform.
Back to Facebook, The Information writes that the social platform company is holding talks with Vainglory publisher Super Evil Megacorp to stream pro tournaments on the platform. However, company COO Kristian Segerstrale stated that the deal had now been completed. The report also stated that Facebook is in active conversations with Activision to nab more streaming rights to competitions.
Skillz announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the company two new patents: one of which covers the mathematical algorithm that enables Skillz to evaluate how much of the outcome of a given game depends on skill vs. chance; while the other covers the integrations portal, which allows developers to implement the Skillz Tournament Management System entirely through self service. “One of the key components of the Skillz business model is making our tournament technology available to everyone in a completely free, self-service way,” said Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz. “We built the integrations portal to give developers total control over their games and tournaments. It’s essentially the setup and control panel for the Tournament Management System.”
MARKETING & SPONSORSHIP
A sold out BlizzCon this week will see a lineup of sponsors with brands that will include: ASUS, Corsair, Newegg, NVIDIA, Razer, Rosewill and T-Mobile. Activations will see:
ASUS: Play Find-the-Robot in VR or play games to win great ASUS, Intel, and Newegg prizes from the ROG vending machine, including motherboard/CPU combos, SSDs, and gaming laptops.
Corsair: Snap a pic in the prop-filled Overwatch photo booth, take a selfie with a community star, or enter to win a shirt, poster, or even a custom Warcraft-modded Crystal 460X RGB Case PC.
Newegg: Catch fun informational sessions on PC building, get some esports coaching, or enter to win a VR-ready computer system.
NVIDIA: Check out Blizzard games running on GeForce GTX 10 series GPUs, a Google Tilt Brush VR experience, signing opportunities with esports and community personalities, and lots of prizes.
Razer: Visit the Razer booth for the chance to win a Blade gaming laptop, Overwatchproducts, and more.
Rosewill: Stop by for exclusive giveaways, ranging from RGB gaming keyboards and Overwatch-themed collectibles to a custom Widowmaker-themed Cullinan case.
T-Mobile: Visit the Un-carrier Lounge to charge your device, stop by the GIF photo booth to pose with an Overwatch hero, and watch the Overwatch World Cup live stream. Everyone’s invited to vote for the tournament MVP using #TMobileMVP and the player’s BattleTag on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Blizzard also tapped “Weird Al” Yankovic to close BlizzCon this year, where he will take the stage on Nov. 5 to wrap up the gaming convention. “We’re super excited to close out our tenth BlizzCon with a performance from an epic showmanand fellow geek,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Weird Al has entertained millions of people around the world with his hilarious music, and we’re thrilled that he’s bringing mandatory fun to the show and everyone following along with a Virtual Ticket.”
HyperX locked in a deal with Celtics player Jonas Jerebko and his eSports organization, Detroit Renegades, to join the brand’s stable of gamers. The team will use HyperX gaming headsets and keyboards during tournaments and practice. “The long-term goal is to establish the Detroit Renegades as a top gaming organization worldwide, and partnering with HyperX gives my team a competitive edge during an explosive time in the gaming market,” said Jonas Jerebko, professional player and devoted gamer. “Working with HyperX is a natural fit for the Renegades, uniting a great team of players with some of the best gaming gear available by a company committed to the sport.” Overall, HyperX sponsors over 30 eSports teams.
Nintendo isn’t unplugging the Wii U after all. Following reports that the company was ending production of the console this month, the company told Japanese site IT Media, that reports of the console’s demise were "not true” and that there was no set timeline for discontinuing the Wii U even with the Nintendo Switch on the horizon.
EA saw the second quarter best its net income guidance, according to the company, with CEO Andrew Wilson noting that "Q2 was an excellent quarter for Electronic Arts, led by breakthrough new EA Sports titles engaging players across console and mobile.” The company reported net revenues of $898 million, up 10% over last year, but off pace from the $915 million it had given as guidance.
A new report PayPal commissioned with SuperData found that 78% of US gamers play on their smartphones, while 49% of U.S. males play on the PlayStation 4 and 48% play on PC. The survey found that women prefer casual genres like puzzle, arcade, and consumer games more than men. The data also showed that console gamers spent more money, purchasing new content every nine days compared to every 18 days on the PC.
In other research, Newzoo found that the Latin American games market ranked as the second fastest growing sector in the world. Anchored by Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, the region scored $4.1 billion in video game revenues, of 20% over the previous year. Overall, the area hosts 110 million gamers with FIFA ranking as the most popular game in both Argentina and Brazil.
POWER PLAYERS-Troika’s Seton Kim
Just as the Super Bowl can see the emergence of new technology designed to help view the game, Riot’s League of Legends World Championships also set the stage for a tech upgrade with the introduction of a live game-flow presentation never before seen in eSports that leverages the projection mapping commonly used as an interstitial during traditional sporting events. The result was a game-driven visualization will allow fans to track the overall game progress through a "living chess board,” showcasing which team had the advantage, creating anticipation for crucial moments, and celebrating spectacular achievements.
To create the presentation, Riot turned to sports powerhouse Troika to launch the experience. Cynopsis eSports & Gaming spoke with Troika Creative Director Seton Kim about the launch.
Kim on the challenge: What happened on Saturday was the culmination of us looking to raise the bar for a live eSports competition and experience and how we could enhance that to be enjoyed by the people in the stadium as well as people who are casual fans and might know a little bit about the game but want to follow it better. What we ended up doing was working closely with the Riot team to channel a vision that extends what’s happening in the game on to the floor. They knew they wanted to use projection mapping, so we had to figure out how to get what’s happening on the screen onto the floor in a really unique and innovative way, how we can create narrative points throughout the games so that the audience can track along and understand the game progress and how to celebrate the key moments.
On results: It was exciting to see a sold stadium of eSports fans who celebrated that game in a huge way. This was a level that I have never experienced before. The outcome at the end of the day was establish a vision with Riot of what it could potentially be and I think we’ve got some room to continue to explore and push in terms to technology catching up. I think at some point in time in the near future, we will get to one-to-one true representation of what’s happening in the game onto the floor. At this point, however, we laid out the groundwork for that and there are some exciting opportunities to take it further.
On lessons from traditional sports: The fan always comes first. Everything from the visual language to the storytelling points had to be tailored to the gamers and hardcore crowd. That said, we brought in traditional crowd prompts and mechanisms from traditional sports. There were ways that we were using our experience in traditional sports to that broader audience and to make the competition as exciting for casual fans as it is for hardcore fans.
On Troika’s vision for eSports: What brought Riot to Troika was our extensive sports experience and how we innovate around live sports storytelling. We have experience with a lot of those foundational points in the narrative to bring the audience in to the flow of the game. That’s something we do really, really well and it translates perfectly into eSports.
TRAILER OF THE WEEK Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
What happens when you steal Michael Phelps’ kill? Danny McBride finds out in the newest trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The pair lead the latest spot for the Activision title, which finds some familiar faces as they escape the frustrations of Earth and launch into intense dogfights, zero-G combat and classic boots-on-the-ground action. Click here to watch.
ON THIS DAY in 2004: Nintendo begins taking orders for the Nintendo DS.
Trivia: Name the villain pictured above. (Email email@example.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last eSports Trivia Question: Kratos is the name of the main character in which gaming franchise? Answer: God of War. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Glen Ross/DC; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Jon Tyler-Spectrum Reach/Reno; Tom Ham-Create Advertising/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.
Later — Chris
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