Overwatch League and Twitch are upgrading their online experience for fans as Stage two kicks into gear, detailing plans to “share their fandom with others” as well as earn League Tokens for watching, while unlocking rewards and insider content. Overwatch League Cheering will allow viewers to unlock in-game skins, exclusive emotes and team-themed items while supporting their favorite teams and players by Cheering with Bits, a virtual item offered by Twitch. Benefits include in-game hero skins that will be exclusive for a period of time, as well as emotes and team-branded items. A Cheer leaderboard also tracks top Cheerers to show who iss the biggest fan. Overwatch League viewers can also now earn League Tokens by linking their Blizzard Battle.net account with their account on Twitch, MLG.com or OverwatchLeague.com.
Before showcasing the Orlando Open as the first of six HCS World Championship tournaments this year, Twitter reports that 2017 saw more than 218 million tweets about gaming globally. Rishi Chadha, head of gaming content partnerships at Twitter, published a blog post about the sector, stating that there were 218 million gaming Tweets in 2017,
The Olympic Channel will be turning its eye toward esports following the Winter Games. Executive Director Yiannis Exarchos told Reuters that the channel would work with partner Intel to expand the presence of esports. “We want to explore this direction. We have now a major player as a top partner of the IOC — Intel Corp — very much into esports precisely because Intel has a vision of seeing the Games delivered in a new, smarter and more engaging way.”
Parity announcing that mobile esports platform Skillz became the first gaming company and the first esports company to take the ParityPledge, promising to interview at least one qualified woman for every open executive role. “Parity.org was founded to correct the stark reality of gender imbalance at the very top of companies today,” said Cathrin Stickney, Parity.org founder and CEO. “As the fastest-growing private company in America, Skillz is setting an important example for others by making this public commitment. We are thankful for their support and hope this will help open doors to leadership for more women in the gaming industry.”
Data-led discussion platform Qutee released its Gaming Today report, noting that almost half (46%) of gamers now play for more than 20 hours a week, and 60% claiming to watch live gaming streams a few times a week too (with 20% watching every day). “The gaming data we’ve gathered is a veritable goldmine for developers, publishers and influencers looking to understand what really makes gamer tick and equally what turns them off. This discussion proves that there is a huge appetite for communities of all kinds to come together online to conduct data discussions and share positive stories and opinions. This is pure data democracy at work and what Qutee is all about,” commented Tim Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Qutee.
WorldWinner is taking the Angry Birds franchise into competitive gaming, detailing plans for Angry Birds Champions to serve as the official cash tournament version of the classic mobile game. Working with Rovio, the game allows players to “hone their bird-slinging in officially sanctioned cash tournaments, giving fans a chance to show off their skills and compete for real money.” The team created two different tournament formats, with Best of Three and Progression Mode both available as options.
A new report from Newzoo projects that global esports revenue will hit $905.6 million in 2018, with an upward trend to hit $1.65 billion by 2021. North America would carry the highest share of those revenues, tallying 38% of the global total, which will be anchored by sponsorship at $359.4 million in 2018, up over $234.6 million last year. Meanwhile, global esports audiences are expected to reach 380.2 million in 2018 with fans who watch esports more than once a month taking up 165 million of the total.
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences unveiled the complete list of presenters for tonight’s 21st DICE Awards, co-hosted by Greg Miller of Kinda Funny and Jessica Chobot of Nerdist News at 8p PT. This year’s presenters will include: Jade Raymond, PopCap Vancouver and Motive Studios Senior Vice President and Group GM/EA; Tim Schafer, Double Fine Productions President and CEO; Kiki Wolfkill, Halo Transmedia and 343 Industries Studio Head; Todd Howard, Bethesda Game Studios Game Director; Seth Killian, Riot Games Lead Designer; Don James, Nintendo of America Executive Vice President of Operations; Abbie Heppe, Media Molecule Community Manager; Nathan Vella, Capy Games President; Vince Zampella, Respawn Entertainment CEO; Robin Hunicke, Funomena Co-Founder; Ashraf Ismail, Ubisoft Creative Director; Alex Schwartz, Owlchemy Labs CEO; Ed Boon, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; and Mike Morhaime, Blizzard Entertainment President and CEO.
Find Your Grind, an organization dedicated to helping kids explore unconventional careers and alternative lifestyles, unveiled a $450,000 annual esports scholarship fund, in collaboration with ReKTGlobal. The fund is open to esports athletes as well as teens with a passion and interest in esports, regardless of their education level or playing skill. ReKTGlobal will help FYG connect passionate youth with mentors from esports pro players and leaders to game developers as well as expand upon the current FYG curriculum. “With the rapid rise of esports, youth interest in the space is increasing, but so is the need for quality talent,” said Amish Shah, Founder of ReKTGlobal. “We wanted to find a way to give opportunities to students to pursue esports and gaming, but also wanted to support the future of esports by providing the talent that will keep pushing the industry forward. Youth involvement is pivotal for the long-term future of esports and FYG is committed to helping kids carve a path and live their passion for esports.”
POWER PLAYERS – Super League Gaming’s Ann Hand
Fresh off a year that saw record investment into Super League Gaming, the company is opening the doors to 2018 with an expansion into new markets, as well as potential new titles on the horizon. To date, Super League Gaming has hosted more than 1,500 events with over 10,000 amateur players attending through two years of play and serves as “the world’s premier amateur esports league” as it hits 16 teams. Cynopsis Esports caught up with Ann Hand, CEO of Super League Gaming, to talk about its growth.
Hand on 2017: We have further invested in our scalable, automated tournament platform in addition to further city expansion. With the last four cities announced, our focus this year will be to double-down on building out the community around these city clubs through our League of Legends and Minecraft City Champs product as well as introducing new games to our platform.
On 2018 goals: Very simply, we need to make a meaningful gain in new gamers joining our community platform and establish more of a cadence on live and digital experiences for them to engage in around Super League. We have large brand partners we will soon be announcing that will enable us to expand the suite of offers and also create ways to engage with Super League beyond our 16-city footprint.
On the process of selecting new teams: We certainly look for larger major metros where there is a strong concentration of competitive gamers and an emerging local gamer lifestyle. Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Atlanta are obvious choices on all of those fronts.
On content: Right now we are on track to product over 700,000 hours of gameplay this year, and we know there is a real thirst for that content at both a national and local level. In April, we will be launching superleague.tv where we will be curating some of our most elite City Champs to shine on light on emerging talent in the amateur esports landscape which will just be the beginning of interesting gameplay and other perspectives we can provide from our hyper-local league operator lens. .
On partnerships with publishers: We are so fortunate to have a very deep, strategic and long term partnership with both of these top tier games and are grateful for how the publishers have taken the long-view on the role of Super League in helping to build their local community affinity and provide a high quality amateur esports league.
Team Dignitas is reportedly overhauling management, with ESPN writing that parent company Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment bought out David and Michael Slan, who remained with the team after HBSE acquired their Apex Gaming in September 2016, in addition to CEO Jonathan Kemp. Kemp was hired when the organization was acquired by HBSE in October 2016. 76ers Innovation Lab managing director Seth Berger will oversee the squad as their search for a new CEO.
Immortals and Los Angeles Valiant CEO Noah Whinston hired Hollywood film Director/Producer J.M.R. Luna to serve as Vice President of Content and Production. Luna will oversee all of the organization’s long and short form film production and assist with creating premium content properties for team partners.