Flyclops revealed that its top title Domino! increased revenue by over 45% by cross-promoting players into Dominoes Gold, a Skillz-enabled esports version of its game. The strategy saw the company repurpose 7% of its third-party ads in Domino! to promote competitions in the ad-free Dominoes Gold. The 45% increase in revenue was driven by the repurposed ad inventory, which generated 7x the eCPM of the third-party ads that were replaced. “The industry points to advertising as the top monetization method, but since integrating Skillz, we’re actually showing fewer third-party ads and making more money,” said Dave Martorana, co-owner of Flyclops. “Skillz allowed us to turn 7% of our third-party ads into 45% more revenue, while bringing ad-free competitions to our users in Dominoes Gold.”
For the first time, Twitch is opening up an official merchandise online store, powered by Amazon’s e-commerce engine. The Twitch Online Store offers fans Twitch shirts, hoodies, community inspired apparel and home goods. “Giving our community access to items like our coveted purple Twitch shirts and expanding into women’s fits and kids options allows us to embrace the broader Twitch community,” Jennifer Dabnor, director of private label and licensing for Twitch, said in a statement. “We also want to make it easy for our fans to show off their Twitch pride, which is why we are providing them with a 24/7 digital store powered by Amazon.”
Rovio Entertainment is turning to Popcorn Digital to oversee branded content on the official Angry Birds YouTube channel, implementing plans to grow viewership and revenue for original animation and branded content as well as expand the title’s fanbase. According to World Screen, new episodes of Angry Birds Blues will be launched on a weekly basis later this year, while Piggy Tales: 4th Street will debut in 2018.
Esports fashion brand ULT, owned and operated by product and content company Ultimate Media Ventures, locked in a partnership with esports outfit Versus Sports for a clothing collaboration and content strategy that “brings modern technical product design to renowned esports players.” The technical products include a high-end cut and sew jersey of a completely custom pattern, which are hand cut and sewn in Los Angeles and constructed with French terry and mesh overlays, woven labels and elongated hem lines. “The evolution of the ULT brand into the traditional sports space is something we are very excited by,” says ULT brand lead designer and Ultimate Media Ventures Co-Founder / Chief Creative Officer, Nate Eckman. “Challenging cultural ideas of athleticism, sport and fashion for this community is something we at ULT are deeply inspired to do. Being able to partner with Versus Sports and collaborate with Manny Anekal on product ideas and content strategy is a total thrill.”
With PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds blowing up the charts, developer Bluehole Inc. is now reportedly valued at $4.6 billion, and now comes word that the team at Bluehole that handled the game is being turned into a subsidiary called PUBG Corporation, according to Gametoc. The move was made, according to the company, to ensure maximum responsiveness and efficiency, allowing the new subsidiary to react to worldwide game market with greater flexibility.
Speaking of valuations, Angry Birds’ maker Rovio Entertainment hit the stock market, opening with an IPO values at about $1 billion as it went public last Friday. Company CEO Kati Levoranta told CNNMoney that there is now a “clear” vision of how to move forward so investors wouldn’t have to worry about painting the company as a one-hit wonder. “Well to be honest we’re in extremely good shape, we have a clear strategy,” she said. “It’s all about the execution now.”
Paramount Pictures picked up rights to bring Sonic the Hedgehog to the big screen. THR writes that Paramount Pictures snagged the rights for Sega’s flagship franchise after the project stalled at Sony Entertainment. The file was originally announced with a 2018 target release date.
POWER PLAYERS – Trevor May
The convergence of sports and esports has another intersection courtesy of Minnesota Twins pitcher Trevor May. Not only a popular streamer on Twitch and a member of Luminosity Gaming, May is now also in investor with an eye to expand the esports ecosystem through a multi-pronged approach of stats and content through his company Esports Lab, with an eye toward leveraging analytics and statistics to help train, scout and develop players and teams as well as consumer interest.
Cynopsis Esports chatted with May about the similarities with traditional sports, his interest in the industry and vision for the esports ecosystem.
May on getting involved with esports: Last year, I got really into streaming on Twitch. I have always loved games my whole life and really enjoyed being able to do it. As I got more acquainted with how influencers are doing business by streaming, I found it to be an interesting dynamic for me because of the subtle differences between esports and traditional sports. That said, there are a lot of parallels as well that I think will lead esports to more of a mainstream following and more business success. Also seeing all the general hype around esports and the businesses that are now investing big numbers into the industry is an exciting proposition. So I said, there is something there and given that I had to have Tommy John surgery and unable to play baseball, I decided to pursue some of these interests that I wouldn’t be able to go after if I was playing.
On launching Esports Lab: It became very clear that the gatekeepers and the buy-in were beginning to become a little more set and the days of launching an esports org for $5,000 were gone. So when Overwatch and League of Legends announced plans to start franchising teams, it was interesting to me because the means we will see contracts that bring in a more mainstream audience. It occurred to me that people would now be wondering how to become a player or a coach. In sports, you have a path you can follow to get to the Major Leagues and when I was 12, I knew what I had to do. In esports, the 12-year old doesn’t have that path. So I decided that my path here would be to build several businesses building around the franchising of teams and developing that structure in the amateur scene to feed into it.
On goals: The world we live in is obsessed with data and the idea that data drives everything is how I’ve functioned my whole life. In baseball, we are becoming more data driven although we have been slow because we are so traditional. The amount of data taken from video games is gigantic so I saw the opportunity there and I found two terrific guys who were developing technology in this particular area that didn’t really have this particular vision. A big part of this was Winston’s Lab, the sabermetrics website of Overwatch. It started as a blog and now it is being used with publicly broadcast games and featured technology that can take a video of the game, pull stuff of the screen, create a timeline and make the whole thing searchable for people looking for analysis of the games they just watched. The other side of it involved an app that basically is a stand-in API for Overwatch that pulls statistics from custom games and offers more detailed stats for users.
On the path ahead: We decided that it would be extremely valuable to not only have a professional take a look at your stats and see where you can improve and see peripherally that I should be playing a certain way. While we want professionals to be able to use it, the plan is for this to be used by your everyday consumer as well, who can track who their statistics have changed. So we are partnering with two other start-ups, one is called Wild, Wild West Bootcamp that is now starting to develop a coaching curriculum that is going to incorporate our statistics. So you can start to see how vested we are in player development and when owners of teams in leagues such as Overwatch League move forward with professional players, they will realize that at some point, they will need to compete with players that are cheaper, that are new the same way that every traditional sport tries to find that diamond. It is a natural step.
Sony is shaking up the PlayStation business, announcing that CEO Andrew House was leaving the company. Meanwhile, Tsuyoshi ‘John’ Kodera has stepped up from deputy president for Sony Interactive Entertainment to House’s role as president and CEO, effective immediately. House will remain with SIE as chairman until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition, departing after 27 years at the company.