Germany-based SK Gaming announced that the team is officially partnering with Bundesliga club 1. FC Koln. The pair will kick off a partnership this year and see SK players be able to take advantage of the same infrastructure the Bundesliga team provides for its players. According to the announcement, “This will enable us to further professionalize the conditions for our players, especially regarding practice, fitness and nutrition. A field that we feel has a massive potential for esports athletes and where we can learn a lot from our new partner.” They noted that the esports team will – in turn – support the ‘FC’s’ first steps into the world of esports, starting with Mirza Jahic and Timo ‘Praii’ Gruneisen representing the club in the upcoming ‘Virtual Bundesliga’.
The first-ever free agency period for Overwatch League is underway, with all 12 franchises now able to ink free agent players to new deals. In addition, the squads will also be free to make trades with other teams beginning Feb. 11, with a transfer window that closes on April 3, just before the start of Stage 3. Teams can add any player not currently signed to an Overwatch League player contract – including Contenders, Academy and Open Division players. The earliest any new player will be eligible to compete in the Overwatch League is Feb. 21.
Splyce and the Boston Celtics unlocked a new partnership for the upcoming organization. Splyce and CLTX Gaming will work together to build out the roster and player development, while assisting with the design and layout of the training facility and team living space in the Boston area. Splyce will also contribute to CLTX Gaming’s competitive analysis and gameplay strategy. “If there’s one thing that Splyce and the Celtics have in common it’s knowing how to win,” said Marty Strenczewilk, CEO and co-founder, Splyce. “As two organizations who are both competitively focused on Boston and have shown the ability to win multiple championships, the partnership was a natural fit. We could see right away that we’d mesh well as brands, and had the same goals – to win and create amazing fan experiences. I’m super stoked to be able to do that together in the 2k League this year.”
POWER PLAYERS – AJ Dimick
After forging the Pac-12’s first varsity esports organization at the University of Utah last fall, AJ Dimick, Director of Operations for Utah Esports, has elevated the conference’s esports play once again, taking part in the launch of the Pacific Alliance of Collegiate Gamers with ten other schools from the league. The school will serve as the only official collegiate varsity program in the PACG organization, however, after spawning the school’s first college esports team, created by the university’s nationally-ranked Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development studio. Each of the players on the U’s team receive a $1,000-per-year scholarship and are playing against club teams from all over North America and 50 other scholarship esports programs.
Cynopsis Esports spoke with Dimick about the program’s launch and its role in the PACG.
Dimick on the PACG: When the Pac-12 was looking to put together a league of their own, the student organizations got to know each other and had a lot of contact trying to help put that together. When it didn’t happen, those student orgs kept talking and eventually took upon themselves to just do it for themselves. These kids want to represent their schools. They want a Pac-12 esports league. They made it happen.
On games: We will play Overwatch, Hearthstone and League of Legends this year. We will split into divisions, play a round robin and have a post season championship tournament around April. This will be a great college esports experience.
On challenges to launching a school program: That the infrastructure to help grow college esports to what it needs to be doesn’t exist yet. College esports needs help. Most college esports leagues and organizations are designed for the 5 friends in their dorm room or student club scenario. We need, schedules, relationships and competitive formats which help us create bigger esports events on college campuses and incentivize campuses to support esports. We’re getting there. And we hope PACG can be a catalyst to bring us closer to that reality.
Superdata released its 2017 Year in Review, breaking down data and trends in digital games and interactive media, including the year-end figures for mobile, PC, console, and esports games, as well as gaming video content. Bullet points from the period include notes that: One in three people on the planet (2.5B) play free-to-play games across PC and mobile platforms; Consumers spent $14B more on mobile games in 2017 than in 2016. Premium PC title PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was 2017’s breakout success, generating $712M in revenue in just eight months; Esports generated $756M in revenue and is on track to become a billion dollar business in 2018.
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences announced that Genyo Takeda, Special Corporate Advisor at Nintendo, will be the seventh Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for the organization. The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented by Don James, AIAS Board Member and Executive Vice President of Operations at Nintendo of America at the 21st D.I.C.E. Awards on Feb. 22 in Las Vegas.
Electronic Arts drew $1.16 billion in the fiscal quarter ending Dec. 31, topping projections and anchored by 14% growth in digital revenue, which hit $780 million. Overall, the company reports a loss of $186 million for the period, however, most due to dips in packaged goods revenue. “Through the fourth quarter and fiscal 2019, we’ll be launching games across five different genres, on three different platforms, and to players around the world,” said EA CFO Blake Jorgensen. “We expect growth in full-game downloads, subscriptions, extra content, and in our mobile business.”
Speaking of EA, the company released the official EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 Super Bowl prediction, projecting that the Patriots will once again walk away as champions, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 24-20.
Nintendo’s numbers saw the company’s largest third-quarter operating profit in eight years, courtesy of the new Switch games console. The company notched an operating profit of $1.07 billion for the period to rank as the highest ever that the company has earned in that span since 2009. Nintendo sold 7.2 million Switch consoles in the three months through December and raised its annual sales forecast to 15 million units from 14 million units.
NetEase is partnering with Mattel to launch a new game development studio, titled Mattel163, according to multiple reports. Both partied will own 50% of the company, which will offer “a wide variety of digital experiences” based on Mattel’s portfolio of IPs, which includes Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price.