ESL opened the doors to a new loyalty reward program titled ESL Rewards. The initiative comes in partnership with Fanmiles and its designed to reward fans who engage in ESL activities, dangling rewards that include the likes of VIP tickets to ESL events, game skins, premium keys and sponsor products.
Roblox’s newest partnership will see licensed apparel and accessories merchandiser Bioworld team with the company to create and sell Roblox branded apparel in retail stores and online across the US and Canada. Roblox-branded apparel will include shirts, sweatshirts and more for fans of all ages with various products incorporating the Roblox logo, Roblox characters and other Roblox assets, with apparel available this month in Kohl’s with additional retailers later this year.
ESL and Hulu unveiled launch dates for the league’s growing portfolio of programming with series set to debut of the next month on the platform. Player vs. Player, hosted by Nerdist’s Jessica Chobot, will see new episodes debut on Fridays this month to kick off the slate with Bootcamp: Immortals. Meanwhile, episode one of Defining Moments is up with a look at ESL One Hamburg. Subsequent eps will debut on Nov. 27, Dec. 3 and Dec. 17. Finally, ESL Replay will run Fridays beginning Dec. 8.
New Snapchat investor Tencent stated that the social video platform could soon become a streaming hub for gaming. GamesIndustry reports that an email statement from Tencent states that “The investment enables Tencent to explore cooperation opportunities with the company on mobile games publishing and newsfeed as well as to share its financial returns from the growth of its businesses and monetization in the future.”
Machinima now boasts its own linear-style channel on the Amazon-owned Twitch platform. Machinima is a division of Warner Bros. Digital Networks; it was wholly acquired by Warner Bros. about a year ago. The new channel, which is ad-supported and runs 24 hours a day, features content focused on gaming, fandom, and animation. To start, the programming will derive mostly from Machinima’s existing originals, including videos from Mega Man Dies at the End and Body Count Fighting. The channel will also broadcast two hours of live programming each weekday, with shows such as VR Power Hour and the geek-oriented talk show Spacebar.
TEAM SPOTLIGHT – SK Gaming
Geoff Keighley unveiled nominees for the 2017 edition of The Game Awards, with categories led by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, destiny 2 and Super Mario Odyssey leading the pack of nominees with six each. In the esports categories, up for Best Esports Game will be Rocket League, League of Legends, Dota2, CS:GO and Overwatch. The Best Esports Player category includes nominees Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi, Je-hong “ryujehong” Ryu, Nikola “Niko” Kovac, Marcelo “coldzera” David and Lee sang-hyeok aka “Faker.” For Best Esports Team, noms include Team Liquid, SK Telecom 1, Lunatic-Hai, FaZe Clan and Cloud9. The ceremony will take place on Dec. 7 from LA.
Meanwhile, Twitter will once again partner with The Game Awards to live stream The Game Awards 2017 for the second consecutive year on Dec. 7. The social platform will also live stream a pre-show beginning at 5:30p PT. This year’s live stream will also be accompanied by a Twitter timeline, featuring related real-time conversation to create a unified experience for viewers to watch, Tweet and view commentary on gaming’s biggest night. Fans will be able to help select winners in select categories via online voting across Twitter as well, using Twitter direct Message, in addition to Facebook Messenger and Google.
Finally, The Game Awards announced a partnership with Tencent to carry the show live in China, including on QQ.com. In addition to watching a live translated version of the show with an exclusive pre-show, Chinese viewers will be cable to vote on a special fans Choice Award for the country, based on nominees selected by Tencent’s gaming editors.
Speaking of awards, the second annual NOW TV Esports Industry Awards unveiled this year’s winners, with over 600,000 votes cast in total this year. Here’s who took home the honors:
- Esports Breakthrough Game of the Year – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
- Esports Commercial Partner of the Year in association with Gamesindustry.biz – G-FUEL
- Esports Coverage Website of the Year in association with Sizzle – ESPN Esports
- Esports Game of the Year in association with Twitch – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Esports Journalist of the Year – Duncan “Thorin” Shields
- Esports Photographer of the Year in association with Snugg – Joe Brady
- Esports Publisher of the Year – Riot Games
- Esports Hardware Provider of the Year – Intel
- Esports Videographer of the Year – Davis ”OpTic Hitch” Edwards
- Streamer of the Year – Disrespect
- Streaming Platform of the Year – Twitch
- Esports Broadcaster of the Year – Alex ‘Machine’ Richardson
- Esports Console Player of the Year in association with Scuf Gaming – Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper
- Esports Live Event of the Year in association with Thomas Lyte – League of Legends World Championship (RIOT)
- Esports PC Player of the Year – Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Barqawi
- Esports Personality of the Year in association with NOW TV – Eefje ‘Sjokz’ Depoortere
- Esports Rookie of the Year (Console) in association with Simba – Victor ‘Punk’ Woodley
- Esports Rookie of the Year (PC) in association with Simba – Abay ‘HObbit’ Khassenov
- Esports Team of the Year – OpTic Gaming
- Esports Unsung Hero of the Year – Megan “RheingoldRiver” Cutrofello
- UK Esports Player of the Year in association with L’Oreal Men Expert – Spencer “Gorilla” Ealing
Esports Play of the Year – Matthew ‘FormaL’ Piper
Elsewhere, Electronic Arts announced plans to acquire Respawn Entertainment, maker of Titanfall, for $315 in cash and stock with the potential for an additional $140 million if Respawn hits its incentive targets.
IGN released a statement addressing a sexual harassment scandal that reportedly caused the network’s daily news show Daily Fix to not air due to a staff walkout. The allegations stem in the wake of allegations late last week that a former editor – Vince Ingenito – sexually harassed two women at the company. After reporting what happened after she and her co-worker to human resources, former employee Kallie Plagge said that she and the other woman were told to sit and work in a glass conference room while IGN decided what to do before she was forced to sign a document stating that she had conducted herself inappropriately, without being told what she had done. “When the women made management and human resources aware of the situation involving a now-former employee, those women, in the estimation of the IGN team, did not get the respect and care that they deserved as IGN employees and as people. That system, plainly put, failed them. It especially failed them but it also failed all of us.” IGN said in a statement.
Controversy over EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II loot box system (the game comes out tomorrow) spawned the most downvoted post on Reddit ever after the publisher tried to justify the cost of unlocking heroes and caused users to claim the system was pay to win. Following the backlash, EA changed the amount of credits needed for certain characters by dropping the price as much as 75%.
The Game Developers Conference detailed plans for the inaugural GDC Film Festival, taking place March 19-21 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. GDC is inviting a slate of video game documentaries and other films centered on gaming to take part, opening the doors for submissions here.
Illumination Entertainment is close to a deal with Nintendo to make an animated Super Mario Bros. movie based on the game franchise, per WSJ. Illumination, which is owned by Chris Meledandri and Universal Studios, and is the company behind the likes of the Despicable Me franchise. Universal had previously locked in a deal to bring Nintendo-themed elements to its parks.
POWER PLAYERS – Team Totality’s Jeff Fluhr and Shawn Barcal
October saw the announcement that former StubHub CEO Jeff Fluhr had launched a new esports squad titled Team Totality that has already emerged as a force for PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds. The team is currently training in Las Vegas, with Fluhr providing seed capital and serving as co-founder of the organization with CEO Shawn Barcal.
Cynopsis spoke with Fluhr and Barcal about launching a new esports brand.
Fluhr on learning about esports: Shawn is the one who tapped me on the shoulder four or six months ago and said that we should be looking at this industry as it was super exciting and a growing space. I took a look at it and while I had heard of esports, it wasn’t something I was paying a lot of attention to. He suggested that we go to Orlando for the Call of Duty World League Championship in August and it was a really interesting experience for me. I had never been to an esports event prior to that and I finally got to see it first-hand. That was all it really took for me to get interested.
On investing: We thought about a couple of different ways we could get involved, Shawn and I both have experience building technology-based products and we talked about doing something at the intersection of esports with that type of consumer product but ultimately, it felt like having a team would be the best way to immerse ourselves in the business and still have an opportunity to do some consumer-focused mobile apps or other things down the road. One of the things we are trying to do with Totality is that we want to get involved in products that are focused on the gamer community where we can either develop the products ourselves or take an equity position in someone else’s product in exchange for promoting it from our team.
Barcal on building a team: When we decided to form a team, we were looking at all of the established titles, and they all had long-established teams and legacies and then came along PUBG, which I enjoy playing and I started asking around about what organizations were getting into PUBG, salaries, etc. and I learned that not only was it one of the fastest growing games, but in Germany, the last big tournament drew around 700,000 viewers. Because this was a new competitive scene in esports, it seemed like a natural fit for a new team like ours to get into.
On building the brand: We have three legs to our stool. The first is a world-class esports team, the second leg is the to have the best media team in esports, so I am now building a great content team and developing lots of content. We have a YouTube Channel, a Twitch channel and a website we are launching soon. We’ve been filming a docuseries with them in Las Vegas for boot camp. We’ll have educational content such as how to play like a pro, frag like a pro, etc. We are plan to create a fun brand with both esports and social media stars who will be sprinkled in the mix as well.
McLaren named Ben Payne to serve as the company’s head of esports where he will oversee the growth and development of McLaren’s esports strategy, including all aspects of the World’s Fastest Gamer program. Additionally, he will lead the development of the WFG partner community, activating gaming partnerships across retail, media partnerships and key industry events. Payne joins from Microsoft, where he held roles in third party marketing, partnerships and events for Xbox EMEA, as well as working on global campaigns for Windows. Prior to Microsoft, Payne held positions at SEGA, 2K Games and Future. McLaren was the first Formula 1 team to announce its own esports property, in April this year.
Gamestop executive chairman Daniel A. DeMatteo has been named interim CEO following the news that J. Paul Raines would need attention due to “a reoccurrence of his previously disclosed medical issue and is seeking treatment.”