04/20/23: Millennials are the largest untapped market in gaming

 

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday April 20, 2023

Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports and gaming brief.

Millennials are the largest untapped market in gaming, with more than 52% of the demographic ranking gaming as their No. 1 interest in a study by Fandom. Fandom’s “Inside Gaming” study, a consumer survey that tracked participants’ consumption habits and preferences related to gaming, revealed that while Gen Z and Gen Alpha are spending more time gaming year-over-year, Millennials spend more hours per week playing. The results are driven by a larger percentage of highly invested players among Millennials vs. younger generations: “40% of Fandom’s Millennial audience spend over 22 hours per week gaming, compared to only 29% of tweens,” according to the study.

The results aren’t particularly surprising; adults have more agency over how they spend their free time, limited though it might be, and it’s likely that as Gen Z and future generations age up, they will have even larger percentages of people spending sizable hours on games. To that point, time spent on games by Fandom’s teen audience rose 48% year-over-year, and tweens’ time increased by 63%, according to Fandom.

However, the research serves as a reminder: It’s essential to capture future demographics, but you can’t forget the purchasing power – and gaming-focused preferences – of older audiences. Millennials are about 24% more likely to be positively influenced to purchase products if they are attached to brands with investments in gaming, according to Fandom, be it as sponsors, partners, or just part of the portfolio.

COMPETITION AND GAMING NEWS

The Call of Duty League is Las Vegas-bound for its Championship Weekend from June 15-18, the CDL announced. The live tournament will take place at University of Nevada-Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center, which is home to UNLV’s basketball programs and other events. The arena has a seating capacity of 19,522, though changes in venue setup will likely affect that availability. Pre-sale ticketing began Wednesday, with general public ticket sales beginning Friday.

Ubisoft free-to-play first-person shooter XDefiant has been a beta hit for passionate competitive FPS players. The game, which is increasingly being considered as a potential mainstream competitor to Call of Duty, has been developed with significant input from pro FPS players, including Call of Duty luminaries like the game’s winningest player ever, Ian “Crimsix” Porter, and CDL pro-turned-Ubisoft developer Patrick “ACHES” Price. The game’s closed beta period led to plenty of hype for the so-called “CoD killer,” but worries about how approachable the game will be for a casual audience and ironing out the typical technical issues present during beta play still loom.

The Overwatch League is navigating the absence of one of its teams as the Chengdu Hunters, a Chinese OWL franchise, continues to “contemplate the future direction of their team.” Chengdu, one of the franchises impacted by a licensing issue that saw Overwatch 2 shut down in its home country, has not commented publicly on its future since sending a tweet on the Jan. 23 shutdown date that said, “Goodbye and see you again.” The Hunters became a fan favorite after joining the OWL as an expansion team in 2018 but missed the playoffs last season.

Riot Games is preparing for a beta launch of VALORANT Premier, a part of the developer’s expansion of its path to pro initiatives in its tactical FPS title. VALORANT Premier is expected to launch April 25 alongside the game’s latest content push, Episode 6 Act III. While VALORANT Premier will not initially be a feeder program for amateur and pro play, Riot said the game mode will eventually replace Open play and be a pathway into the VALORANT Challenger League for top Premier teams and competitors.
 

STREAMHATCHET

The new live-streaming service, Kick, has made a name for itself in the gaming space, quickly attracting some of the biggest names in the industry. The site was created in collaboration with Stake.com, a gambling website, and live streaming creator Trainwreckstv, who is most known for his slots and gambling live streams.

Launched at the end of 2022, Kick’s main draw as an alternative to Twitch is its desire to put creators first. As Trainwreckstv explained in a Sportskeeda article, Kick will have a 95-5 revenue split, with the majority of revenue going to the live-streaming creator. Tips from viewers will go directly to the streamer and all creators will have the opportunity to make a “steady income” based on viewership metrics.

To better understand the platform’s impact, we’ve compiled a list of Kick’s top five live-streaming channels based on their average minute audience (AMA) for the week of April 5-11, 2023.

Read more on Stream Hatchet’s blog.

SPONSORSHIP & ACTIVATION

The Dallas Cowboys and GameSquare have launched a platform for Cowboys fans focused on the gaming community and creating new ways for the franchise to connect to its audience. Dallas Cowboys Game Time will offer always-on programming, the companies said in a statement, and allow users to compete for rewards. PC technology company Lenovo has partnered with the Cowboys on the initiative, which will kick off May 20 with a Fortnite tournament featuring a grand prize of an all-expense-paid trip for two to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII.

Mainframe Studios and content creator Nicholas “Nick Eh 30” Amyoony are using Fortnite 2.0 to create a new animated series, with Unreal Engine 5 powering the production of “Endurathon.” The show, which has a Ready Player One theme to it, is targeted toward an 8-to-14-year-old audience, which lines up with Nick Eh 30’s family-friendly programming style. “We wanted to create relatable character-driven stories that are anchored in the exciting world of esports and gaming,” Mainframe Studios President & CCO Michael Hefferon told Animation World Network. “92% of our target audience are avid gamers, evenly split between male and female. Nick Eh 30 brings an authenticity to Endurathon’s esports experience that speaks directly to that audience.”

Complexity Gaming and the U.S. Army will partner for a fifth-straight year to put on Soldier Showdown 5, a multi-title cross-platform event for active-duty U.S. service members. Through the initiative, members of the U.S. military will get a chance to compete in three competitive titles across three months: Multiversus (May), Rocket League (July) and Call of Duty: Warzone (September). Top performers will advance to a live final in November at Complexity’s Lenovo Legion Esports Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

Two Chinese esports stars and a prominent caster have partnered with Oakley in a deal put together by SPORTFIVE. Two members of Edward Gaming’s esports programs – Former League of Legends world champion and ??Tian “Meiko” Ye and Arena of Valor pro Yuan “NingZhi” Jun – and League of Legends Pro League caster Guan Zeyuan, have endorsed Oakley and will make commercial and brand activation appearances for the eyewear company as part of the deal.

2023 Esports & Gaming Business Summit

1/3 of the global population plays video games every week… how are you connecting with this audience?

YouGov reports 31% of the global population engages in playing video games on a weekly basis, 42% of players being Gen-Z. Attend EBGS to connect the dots between gaming and esports, and learn through world-class content how to leverage and engage with this elusive Gen-Z audience.

I’M INTERESTED IN ATTENDING

YOUGOV LIVING DATA INSIGHTS

Where are America’s esports fans going for the munchies?

Compared to the overall American population, esports fans show a strong relative preference for KFC, according to Current Customer data from YouGov BrandIndex. They are more than twice as likely as all Americans to grab a bite at the iconic fried chicken fast food chain (31% vs 13%). The esports followers’ group also shows a strong relative preference for Burger King (32% vs 20%), Wendy’s (28% vs 18%), Subway (28% vs 16%) and Chick-fil-A (26% vs 16%).

TEAMS

Veteran Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth has been benched by Astralis as the team searches for a path forward in the esport. Xyp9x has been with Astralis since 2016, and during much of that time the Danish team was considered the undisputed best CS:GO program in the world. Since 2022, however, the team has struggled, including missing the IEM Rio Major that year and recently missing the BLAST.tv Paris Major. Xyp9x will move to the Astralis Talent, the team’s Academy squad, while Alexander “Altekz” Givskov moves up to take his place in the main lineup.

The Sentinels VALORANT squad continues to face obstacles in its attempts to qualify for international competition through the VCT Americas circuit. Following the arrest of substitute player Hunter “SicK” Mims and a 1-2 start to the season that saw head coach Donald “Syyko” Muir dismissed, the team is now dealing with a hand injury to star duelist Tyson “TenZ” Ngo. After attempting to play through the injury, TenZ will get a week off, new coach Adam Kaplan said. Substitute Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen will start for Sentinels in the team’s next two matches.

Dignitas will hope to reshape its fortunes in the League of Legends Championship Series with the addition of Lee “Rich” Jae-won, according to multiple reports. Rich, who previously played in China for Victory Five and Ninjas in Pyjamas, is best-known for his time in a different game: He was one of the best Heroes of the Storm players in the world and won three consecutive global titles in that game prior to developer Activision-Blizzard ceasing its operations of that game as an esport. Rich then transitioned to League and has been part of multiple rosters since 2019. He will replace Turkish import player Irfan “Armut” Tükek, once one of the most-sought-after young talents in the scene, following Dignitas’ last-place finish in the LCS Spring Split.

VALORANT Challengers team Disguised finished shuffling its roster with the departure of Damion “XXiF” Cook and addition of his replacement, Michael “nerve” Yerrow. Nerve, who previously played for Soniqs and reportedly was scouted by VALORANT Champions Tour squad Cloud9, will join former C9 player Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker on Disguised as the content creator-owned team tries to stake its claim on the VCL.

INDUSTRY

Sega has purchased Angry Birds developer Rovio Entertainment in a $775 million deal that will allow Sega to break into the global mobile gaming market. The all-cash acquisition will give Sega, a Japanese company, access to a developer with “high-level expertise in live service-mobile game operation centered around the United States and Europe,” the company said in a statement. The gaming giant also noted the success of both its marquee franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Angry Birds in breaking out of video games and into pop culture by leveraging film and other entertainment mediums. Rovio, meanwhile, will hope to leverage this deal into cross-platform expansion of Angry Birds and its other intellectual property, according to a statement.

Nintendo’s never-ending fight against ROM sites continued this week with the publisher earning a win in the Paris Court of Appeals against emulator site operator Dstorage. Nintendo will be awarded more than $510,000 in the decision, according to a report from GamesIndustry.biz, should Dstorage not choose to appeal. Emulator sites provide ways to operate games on platforms other than the ones they’re designed for (for example, playing a Nintendo DS game on a PC), either through downloadable ROMs that can be run through computer programs or on-site play. The practice is particularly popular for older IP that is not as easily accessible, such as games exclusive to older consoles, but is a form of piracy and has increasingly been used to bring new first-party titles off of their intended platforms.

Former Head of Creative for Halo Infinite Joseph Staten has joined Netflix as the streaming company looks to expand into game publishing. Staten, who worked at Bungie and then with Microsoft’s 343 Industries on the Halo franchise, announced he will be working at Netflix as the creative director behind an original AAA game title. The video game industry veteran announced his departure from Microsoft earlier this month, and he’s not alone: Halo franchise director Frank O’Connor is also leaving Microsoft amid cuts to Halo studio 343 Industries, according to Axios.

Virtual reality company Virtex is gearing up for Counter-Strike 2 in a different way: The organization is launching a VR esports stadium alongside Skybox to create a virtual esports spectator experience. According to Eurogamer, users will be able to watch from a traditional stadium seating point of view and also observe the match from a map-level setting. Virtex Stadium will also feature a lobby area, bar, and main hall to encourage fan interaction and a deeper experience for fans watching from afar. Virtex’s closed beta is underway for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with Counter-Strike 2 compatibility planned as the sequel’s Summer release approaches.

2023 Cynopsis Virtual Jobs Event

Looking for a career in media?

Sign up for the Cynopsis Virtual Jobs Event on April 26th and connect with hiring pros from A+E Networks, TV One, Scripps, and Nexstar Media Group. Don’t miss out on this exclusive opportunity to learn about new job openings and connect with potential employers!

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TRIVIA
You might not have heard of Rovio Entertainment before today, but you’ve definitely heard of Angry Birds. Answer this, then: When did the original Angry Birds game release? (Email [email protected] with your answer, and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
Back to the big screen: Which actor did Bowser voice actor Jack Black say he wanted to portray Wario in a Super Mario Bros. Movie sequel? Answer: Pedro Pascal. Kudos: Sophia Clement | NBCUniversal, New York, New York; Tom Moore | Kalt Productions, Los Angeles; David Westberg | SAG•AFTRA Federal Credit Union, Burbank, California; Michelle Bergmann| Mediassociates, Sandy Hook, Connecticut

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