06/15/17: E3: What made gamers gush; WESA’s dynamic duo; Disney’s Summer games

CynopsiseSPORTS & GAMING
It’s Thursday June 15, 2017 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.


With E3 wrapping up today, the past week of presentations, introductions, partnerships and competition set the tone for the future of industry during the gaming community’s annual voyage to the marketing playground. While we will break down all the news below, Twitter delivered Cynopsis Esports its rankings of top topics from the expo through Wednesday. Here’s what was on the tip of everyone’s tongues…
 
Most Mentioned Games during E3
  1. Super Mario Odyssey
  2. Metroid
  3. Monster Hunter: World
  4. Beyond Good and Evil
  5. God of War
  6. Evil Within 2
  7. Anthem
  8. Assassin’s Creed Origins
  9. Spider-Man
  10. Pokemon
Most Mentioned Brands during E3
  1. Microsoft
  2. Sony
  3. Nintendo
  4. Ubisoft
  5. IGN
  6. Bethesda
  7. EA
Top Hashtags during E3 (number of Tweets)
  1. #XBoxE3 (532,871)
  2. #PlaystationE3 (236,202)
  3. #UbiE3 (229,571)
  4. #NintendoE3 (178,923)
  5. #SonyE3 (98,204)
  6. #E3JVCom (39,408)
  7. #UbisoftE3 (23,903)
  8. #BethesdaE3 (21,851)
  9. #e3predictions (8,463)
  10. #E3COLISEUM (3,075)
  11. #e3gameblog (2,953)
Most Tweets by Country
  1. United States (1,458,005)
  2. Japan (500,134)
  3. Great Britain (340,831)
  4. Spain (269,523)
  5. France (241,682)
 
COMPETITION


E3 proved to be flush with esports news, with announcements that spanned partnerships, tournaments and more. One key announcement saw Intel and ESL unveil a deal to deepen their ties, with Intel now serving as the Global Technical Partner of ESL and touchpoints that include from global events such as Intel Extreme Masters, ESL Pro League and ESL One to National Championships and online tournament platforms, as well as studio and broadcasting operations. Intel will now provide PC’s for all participating teams and players and high-performance processors. In addition, the companies announced plans for the all new Intel Grand Slam for CS:GO, dangling an additional $1 million prize to the first team that can win four out of the last ten $200,000 events held between DreamHack and ESL. In addition, ESL, Oculus VR and Intel will launch the VR Challenger League, designed to serve as a VR esports organization and described as the first VR-focused eSports league ever established. Insomniac’s The Unspoken and Ready at Dawn’s Echo Arena will be the two VR titles lined up for the league, with a prize pool of over $200,000 in play.
 
Meanwhile, Bethesda revealed during its press conference that the Quake World Championship will take place on Aug 26 at QuakeCon, with $1 million on the line. In cooperation with id Software and Bethesda, ESL announced its partnership in the competition with Duel (1v1) and Sacrifice (4v4) competitions beginning this month.
 
ELeague will partner with sister company Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to bring NetherRealm Studios’ super-powered fighting game Injustice 2 to the organization as part of the first-ever ELeague Injustice 2 World Championship. Competition will see the top 16 Injustice 2 players in the world face off for $250,000 in prize money. Featured matches throughout the tournament will be presented live on TBS, with live coverage of every match available via digital platforms beginning with the Open Qualifier on Oct. 21.
 
Electronic Arts unveiled the launch of the largest EA Sports FIFA competition ever for this fall, as players from around the world will compete as part of a major expansion on EA’s existing partnership with FIFA. The competitive ecosystem will offer players the opportunity to represent their favorite real-life club through official league competitions, the FIFA Ultimate Team Champions Cups as well as a new FIFA Interactive Club World Cup, serving as an All-Star tournament featuring players signed to clubs. More info will be shared later this summer.
 
Speaking of FIFA, the Portuguese Football Federation is set to become the newest org to offer a new FIFA esports league. Competition will be known as the Allianz Challenge, according to Dot Esports, and dangle a €20,000 prize pool to its competitors. “This joint initiative with FPF Esports, the Allianz Challenge, will bring together players who have the same interests, the same passion, and the same desire to win like any other athlete in another sport,” Teresa Brantuas, CEO of Allianz Portugal, told the site. The league will also be sponsored by the likes of HP, Red Bull, and Moche.
 
A new report from the Esports Advertising Bureau and Magid found that women currently comprise nearly one-third of the esports audience and could account for half of all growth in viewership over the next year. The study was conducted in March of 2017 among 1,000 consumers 16 to 45 years old who watch TV, movies, sports or play video games and that have either watched esports at some point over the past year or have some interest in the category, and shows that while 54% of the audience has watched esports in the past three months, the 46% that have not are interested in doing so. The study also points out that women make up half of the audience most interested in watching esports in the near future, with 78% of them following esports just within the past year. More than 50% of the audience reported engaging on some level with esports content at least once a week.
 
According to the new report Magid Media Futures, esports continues to gain traction with last year seeing 41% of consumers reporting that they had heard of esports, while this year the number had swelled to 49%, and the national population that viewed esports this year grew to 29% from 26% last year. The average esports viewer spends more than 5 hours a week watching live esports content and more than 4 hours a week watching highlights/recorded clips from esports matches. “Many people watch hours of golf on TV, and this has been a traditional media success for years, said Mike Vorhaus, President of Magid Advisors. “I believe our data suggests that in the future esports will be as popular and important to viewers, as golf is today.  Esports gamers love this type of video.”
 
Amazon Appstore announced Mobile Masters Invitational (M2), a new tournament series featuring mobile esports titles Summoners War, Vainglory and Hearthstone. Competitions will take place from June 23 – 24 in New York and August 18 – 20 in Los Angeles in conjunction with Korean pop culture festival KCON. In addition, Amazon is also announcing the return of Maria Ho as host for Amazon’s esports events.
 
Following a year that saw a slew of deals between sports and esports entities, how are these new partnerships actually benefitting the brands? What have these sports powerhouses learnt about esports fans? How is competitive gaming being leveraged? Hear from some of the innovators from the sports world, including the NFL, Big Ten Network, the 76ers and Mindshare, who took on esports and learn from their experiences at our latest webinarHow Sports Brands Can Leverage the Esports Explosion,” taking place on June 27. Book your spot now by clicking here.
 
Blizzard formally announced plans for the Overwatch Open Division, allowing amateur players to compete in an open tournament series. Players who laid claim to Master rank or higher in the most recent season of Overwatch Competitive Play will be able to assemble teams and face other determined squads in their region in the Overwatch Open Division’s first season. Participating regions include: estern Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, Latin America (sans Brazil), Brazil, Australia/new Zealand and Southeast Asia. Signups begin on July 3.
 
Speaking of Overwatch, after over 1,200 teams across North America and Europe battled for spots in the group stage of Overwatch Contenders Season Zero, the top 16 teams are left for the championship, with each region’s 16 teams split into four groups of four teams. At the end of the group stage, the top two teams per group will move on to the Overwatch Contenders Season Zero Playoffs on July 1-2, for a $50,000 prize pool per region. The action starts on Saturday when the Overwatch Contenders European Group Stage kicks off at 2p. Overwatch Contenders North America follows up with its group stage on Sunday at 8p.
 
 
CROWD CONTROL (aka Reactions to the Week’s Biggest Story)


The E3 buffet once again served up a smorgasbord of new titles, hardware, etc. for all tastes. We asked a lineup of key players in the industry about their personal favorites from this year’s expo…
“I’m personally really excited for God of War 4. The team from Santa Monica Studio has done an outstanding job reimaging one of my favorite franchises. Nintendo has also been impressive, to say the least. I thought we’d hear more about Microsoft’s new streaming service, Mixer (formally Beam) at their conference, so I’m looking forward to learning more soon. As far as esports go, I think the obvious win is Marvel vs Capcom, but I’m super interested in The Darwin Project, which was shown at the Sony presser.” – on-air host, actress, producer, and voice actor Michele Morrow.

“As far as ‘winning E3 goes’ Ubisoft stole the show this year. Its exclusive collaboration with Nintendo for the Switch, titled Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, was an instant crowd favorite. It also suggests that Nintendo may be willing to consider more collaborations in the future.”- Joost van Dreunen – CEO & Co-Founder at SuperData Research.

“As a Switch owner, I’m stoked to see Rocket League coming to the console…and also a bit distraught Animal Crossing has not yet been announced for the Switch.” – ELeague GM Christina Alejandre.

“On the hardware side, I was really impressed with Alienware’s new line of peripherals. I think their new gaming mice look and felt great in use. On the game side, the new Dragon Ball Z  game absolutely stole the show for me. Beautiful gameplay- look for this one to be a hit.” – Misfits Co-founder/CEO Ben Spoont.

 “The Spider-Man game looks amazing. Great studio, gameplay looked tremendously fun, tons of great buzz. Destiny 2 and Anthem look like a shooter-first and action-RPG first take on similar game-as-service sci-fi themes. Anthem was a great surprise, looked super empowering and fun. Nintendo came out very strong with first party titles, but first party has never been their weakness. Hopefully the switch gets a lift from the awesome third party game they announced: Rocket League. Cross platform play with this incredibly popular dark horse game across Nintendo, PC, and Xbox is a great benefit. I think Days Gone is my last one that’s really super impressive looking. Last year’s demo was impressive but this year showed more intimate and less scripted moments. It illustrated real consequential player choice and some flinch-inducing rough combat.” – Patrick Joynt, VP of Research at Magid.
 
 
TEAMS


WESA continues to lock down key esports franchises, this time announcing that OpTic Gaming has joined the organization as a full Member. In addition, the association announced that one of its founding teams, FaZe Clan will return to the fold as a full Member of the organization. Last year, the franchise announced that it was leaving WESA, noting that the newborn organization had “challenges to overcome.” “We’re impressed with WESA’s growth and impact on the industry over the last year. Expanding membership with more North American teams, introducing key regulations and the commitment of member organizations to abide by the changes, and a new Commissioner with a background in the traditional media space really solidified our interest in remaining a part of WESA, “ said Erik Anderson, Manager, FaZe Clan. “FaZe Clan is committed to being an active member of WESA moving forward and growing the esports industry.”
 
Esports and gaming company aXiomatic announced that Jeff Vinik, owner and chairman of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, minority owner of Fenway Sports Group and owner of the Tampa Bay Storm joined the group as an investor, co-executive chairman and voting manager. Vinik will serve beside co-chairmen Peter Guber and Ted Leonsis. In addition, Jac Sperling — former CEO and co-General Partner of Minnesota Sports and Entertainment (NHL’s Wild), Founder of Grit Rock Ventures, and former NBA Governor of the New Orleans Pelicans — is joining the investment group with Vinik.
 
 
INDUSTRY


E3 saw Microsoft formally unveil the Xbox One X, which will be released on Nov. 7 for $499. At its press briefing, the company announced that the console will run as a 4K-enabled upgrade over the current console and serve as “the most powerful games console in the world.” On the title side, key games featured included the likes of Forza Motorsport 7, Metro Exodus, State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves and more.
 
Ubisoft generally seemed to score the best marks for its unveilings at the show as the game maker announced the return of the Beyond Good and Evil franchise, after nearly a decade of rumors. In addition, the company unveiled the next editions of some consumer favorites such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Far Cry 5, and The Crew 2 as well as the launch of a new IP in Skull and Bones and the unveiling of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battles for Switch.
 
Bethesda doubled down on its VR play, announcing plans to release VR versions of both Doom and Fallout 4. The company also offered peeks for a lineup of sequels that include Dishonored 2, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and The Evil Within 2.
 
Sans any new hardware announcements, Sony’s E3 showcase opened with pushes for Uncharted spinoff The Lost Legacy, new IP Days Gone, God of War, the upcoming Spider-Man title, and Detroit: Become Human.
 
With the Nintendo Switch on the open market, Nintendo’s presentation capped by Super Mario Odyssey, which hits stores on Oct. 27. Amid the bevy of announcements, top announcements included news that Metroid Prime 4, Rocket League will be coming to the Switch with cross-platform play, as well as upcoming titles for the Pokemon, Kirby and Yoshi franchises.
 
Electronic Arts’ pre-E3 press conference detailed news for Star Wars Battlefront 2, Need for Speed Payback and Battlefield 1 as well as a brand new BioWare game. Meanwhile, madden 18 will offer a story mode for the first time, designed to be a playable movie. Meanwhile, FIFA 18 will offer a sequel to last year’s popular story mode. Meanwhile Bioware will offer a new sci-fi IP for all platforms called Anthem.
 
 
PLATFORMS


Disney is diving deep on the gaming front this summer, announcing plans for D|XP, a daily summer programming block dedicated to the world of gaming starting July 15 and running from 9p-3a on Disney XD. The programming block will showcase games, publishers, events and personalities across the gaming landscape featuring content produced in collaboration with ESPN, Disney Digital Network and its Maker creators, IGN, Attack Media, Warner Bros. Television Group’s Blue Ribbon Content, Banger Films, ESL and VICE’s Waypoint. “Gaming is a lifestyle for our audience,” said Marc Buhaj, senior vice president, Programming and general manager, Disney XD. “This summer, we’re collaborating with leading creative partners in the industry to deliver original programming, access to some of the biggest esports tournaments and leagues, and entry to key gaming-related events. D|XP will showcase diverse storytelling across the video game landscape, and celebrate gaming culture and community.”
 
GINX Esports TV is dedicating Friday night to Fight Night, serving up its first live ‘all-nighter’. The esports/gaming network, which in now available in over 45 million homes across 80 countries – will showcase three live international esports events back-to-back and uninterrupted over the course of this weekend. Events will include the OGN Apex S3 from Seoul, Korea; followed by live coverage of the Call of Duty World League in Anaheim, and wrapping up from Atlanta for the ELeague CS:GO Clash for Cash rematch between Astralis and Virtus.Pro.
 
MediaMation debuted its esports “theater-to-arena” concept at E3 this week, with the MX4D Esports Gaming Theatre being showcased at the expo. The venue is described as a first of its kind, combining MX4D motion EFX seats and new pro modular gaming desk technology that allows spectators to feel the action on screen, as well as enjoy a fully immersive 4D movie-going experience at night. The MX4D Esports Gaming Theatre is slated to open at the TCL Hollywood Chinese Theatre in Q3 of this year.
 
ePlay Digital announced plans for a new fantasy esports app called ePlay Now!, covering leagues that include League of Legends, Counter Strike and Dota2. The apps will launch this summer and feature athletes, tournaments, and real-time scores, where users can pick winners, choose eSports athletes for their fantasy team, and predict real-time results.
 
 
MARKETING
 
Entertainment agency PMK-BNC is getting into the esports space, announcing the formation of a new cross-agency practice with Momentum Worldwide focused on connecting brands with video games, esports and the nearly two billion video game fans around the globe. The practice provides consultation services for brands interested in the world of gaming and esports, identifying opportunities for sponsorships, in-game marketing, influencer marketing, team and league representation, and more; best-in-class activation expertise for brand experiences and live events; branded content; digital/social engagements; and more. The new practice will be led by Momentum’s Glenn Minerley and PMK-BNC’s Mark Van Lommel.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

Discord announced that it had hired Andy Swanson, formerly of Twitch, as head of publisher relations for the company. Swanson will now work with game publishers and developers on how best to use Discord’s voice and text chat across the gaming ecosystem.

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
How Sports Brands Can Leverage the eSports Explosion
Register now for Cynopsis’ June 27 webinar and discover the best business plays for sports brands looking to take a shot and hear from sports executives who have made the jump. In this webinar, you’ll get insights on:
  • What brought current players into the space and what have they learned since their investment that can help you shape your strategy? 
  • How can the sports and esports industries help each other? 
  • How can media companies and content producers leverage the gaming craze with complementary programming?
  • What data should potential partners look at as the mull a play?

Register today

 
ON THIS DAY in 2010: Microsoft reveals details of its hands-free motion control system for Xbox 360, aka Kinect.
 

Trivia: This racer (pictured above) was not only the most popular racing game of the classic era, but also the most popular coin-operated arcade game of 1983, what is its name? (Email chris-sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In the Angry Birds franchise, what color bird drops eggs? Answer: Starcraft. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Joey Olson/DC; Gayathri Jayakumar-THREE/Saratoga Springs; Daniel Hanson/Vail; Greg Dudsic/Venice

Later — Chris

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