06/02/16: Xbox faces Reality; April’s top games; Seth Schorr’s eSports gamble pays off


It’s Thursday, June 02, 2016, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

Amid reports that Microsoft was ready to unveil a new version of Xbox One at E3, now comes word that developers are in the midst of taking the platform into the VR gaming space in 2017, with the E3 website showing four companies registered under the Xbox One virtual reality games category  3DRudder, Maximum Games, Readily information Co. Ltd., and Rebellion. Meanwhile, Ars Technica is reporting that another "well-known" European studio is preparing to launch a new VR game for an already established franchise for the console next year. The new VR game would be showcased at E3 this year, and puts the company in the game with Sony’s PlayStation VR headset, which is launching later this year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has only announced that its Xbox E3 2016 briefing will take place on June 13 at 9:30a, with audiences able to plug in via on Xbox.com, the Xbox Titch Channel, YouTube and via the Xbox Live Events Player on Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles.



Last Friday’s debut of ELeague saw TBS’ primetime window from 10-11p average 509,000 total viewers on the channel, which is on par with average broadcasts of NHL and MLS games this season (at least for the portion announced). Overall, the league notched more than 150 million gross minutes of video consumption on Twitch during its premiere week, generating 4.3 million video streams and saw a peak of 92K concurrent streams on the platform. On the social media front, the newborn league grabbed 710 million impressions on Twitter (360 on Friday night) with 27 million impressions for ELeague social accounts and 3.6 million video views on Facebook in its first week.

Rick Fox’s eSports franchise Echo Fox is partnering with Propagate and INE Entertainment to develop and produce a non-scripted series about the growth of eSports. Rick Fox and veteran TV producer Mark Koops will executive produce. “My interest in eSports started several years ago as a bonding activity with my son, I would have never dreamed that it would have taken off the way it has," said Rick Fox owner of the Echo Fox franchise. "The level of engagement between fans and athletes in the eSports community is far more than I experienced in the NBA and I’m passionate to tell the story of our eSports community and introduce audiences to the sport."

The launch of ELeague, along with a shift by advertisers toward competitive gaming, Superdata Research reports that the global audience for eSports is on track to grow to 214 million by the end of this year.

The 2016 World of Warcraft Arena World Championship will see Blizzard partner with MLG to produce the entire North American Road to BlizzCon, with events that include all three qualifier cups. The publisher is once again partnering with GCDTV for the events, with competition set to launch on June 18 and showcased on Twitch and MLG.tv.

The Canadian League of Gamers is launching Northern Arena, described as a world-class competition that will offer both live and online qualifiers throughout the year/ Northern Arena will look to connect millions of gaming fans in Canada and around the world by streaming competitions globally and also hosting live spectator events across Canada. "Canada has some of the most passionate gamers in the world," said Carl-Edwin Michel, Co-Founder of the Canadian League of Gamers. "Connecting Northern Arena with the audiences at Fan Expo and working with Vantrix is a perfect fit. I can’t wait to press play with Canadian and international gaming elite and kick off Northern Arena’s 2016 competitions." 
BtoBet is dedicating a special section of its gaming solution to eSports, according to igamingdaily, with bookmarkers now given access to Betradar’s eSports solutions, offering protection from Fraud Detection & Prevention services, direct real-time data from game servers and more.


Source: Nielsen via betradar.

eSports fans flow toward the growing number of brands that support the space via sponsorship. However, acceptance depends on the correct, authentic engagement and brand efforts can easily turn off audiences. According to Nielsen, the brands that draw the best response are the ones that support the sport and its gamers. Narrowly leading the pack, 56% of eSports fans positively engaged with brands that equipped tournament winners, while 54% reacted well toward companies that donated prize money.


Superdata’s monthly game sales charts saw digital game sales spike 5% in April over its 2015 equivalent to hit $6.2 billion, according to the research company. The segment is also up 23% in revenue and 15% in audience. As casual gamers continue to turn to mobile devices over social desktop experience, social gaming revenue took the fall, with a drop of 10%. Taking the top spot among console games was Call of Duty: Black Ops III, with Dark Souls III reigning among PC games and Monster Strike first among mobile games.

Microsoft cut prices for its Xbox One bundles by a cool $50 heading into E3, with prices now at $299. The "limited time" promotion runs through June 13.

With Disney Infinity bowing out of the space, Activision reaffirmed its commitment to the toys-to-life gaming space, announcing that its Skylanders Imaginators will allow Portal Masters to create their own Skylander. "Since we launched the very first Skylanders game, we have received countless letters and drawings from kids all over the world sharing their vision for their own Skylanders. No matter how in touch with our ‘inner kids’ we might think we are as adults, nothing comes close to the endless creativity that springs from the mind of an inspired kid," said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, Inc. "We’ve turned this year’s game into the ultimate blank canvas for kids’ imaginations so they can create and play their own Skylanders."

2K hooked former WCW/WWE star Bill Goldberg for the upcoming WWE 2K17, serving up two playable characters representing his WCW and WWE personas. The playable characters, along with two playable arenas  WCW Monday Nitro and Halloween Havoc  will be available on launch day for those who pre-order the game, which is slated for worldwide release in October 2016.

Twitch is serving up Clips, a new feature that allow viewers to save 30 seconds of video from any of its live stream. The move was designed to mark content more sharable via direct peer-to-peer messaging apps or on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. According to the Twitch blog post, “When you see something you don’t want to forget, hit the Clip button in the video player, wait just a few seconds, and before you can say ‘Kappa’, you’ll have a video of the action ready to share.”

Playtech unveiled its strategic plan to bolster its market share of the IP-based casual games market following its acquisition of Funtactix, an award-winning publisher of film and television-based games that include the likes of The Hunger Games, Mission: Impossible, Power Rangers and Rocky. "The Playtech casual games division has a clear strategy and direction and we’re very confident it will continue to go from strength-to-strength,” said Shimon Akad, COO, Playtech.


"As a marketer we would be foolish to turn a deaf ear to the size of the [esports] audience."
–Bob Ruhland, Head of Marketing – Buffalo Wild Wings (source: WSJ)

Bob’s right. That’s why you should register your team for the Cynopsis eSports Conference on Thursday, June 23 in NYC. Group tickets and tables are available for purchase; grab them before June 1st!

Sponsored by: Magid Sports, Chief Marketer + rEvXP


Sony detailed plans for the PlayStation E3 Experience starting June 13, announcing that it will take place at over 85 movie theaters across the US, Canada, and for the first time, Latin America. Fans will get an HD simulcast of the company’s E3 Press Conference and receive special PlayStation goods, including a commemorative Coca-Cola E3 Experience Cup and #37 from the PlayStation Collectible Card series first introduced at PlayStation Experience 2015.

Activision Blizzard is expanding its in-game program supporting the Call of Duty Endowment’s nationwide effort to help veterans find high-quality careers. The Call of Duty Endowment Valor Calling Card Set features pack of three exclusive, animated calling cards each depicting epic scenes from military action across the sea, air and land, honoring those who have served in the armed forces. All gross proceeds received by Activision will be donated to the Endowment.

G Fuel and ESL locked in a deal that makes the beverage brand the official energy drink of the upcoming season of the Intel Extreme Masters tour. G Fuel will also present MVP awards at each event, offer custom trophies to each recipient and have sponsored booths and product samplings at each stop over the course of the season. “ESL is the world’s largest and most prestigious eSports company, and this partnership is right in-line with our global expansion plans,” said Clifford Morgan, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Gamma Labs.


Endemol Shine is tapping EA franchise Mirror’s Edge for a potential TV series based on the action-adventure game. Deadline reported the deal. “We clearly see Mirror’s Edge as a franchise for the global TV audience,” Endemol Shine Studios president Sharon Hall said. “It has a strong female protagonist, a wildly rabid fan base and a worldwide brand that Electronic Arts and EA Dice have done an amazing job establishing.” The next game in the series, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, debuts on June 7.
Nintendo announced a partnership with Vans to offer a collection of footwear, apparel and accessories dedicated to the early days of video games. The line will feature graphic prints using 8-bit inspired artwork and characters from Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda, as well as an assortment inspired by Nintendo’s first console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The collection will debut tomorrow.


Women in Games named Marie Claire Isaaman as the organization’s new CEO. “I am delighted to be named as the new CEO of Women in Games, an inspirational and increasingly influential organization,” she said. “I recognize the many achievements of my predecessors in the role and am fully committed to realizing the organization’s vision of doubling the percentage of women working in the UK game industries by 2025. Ultimately, I want the UK to be a global exemplar for gender equality in making games.”

POWER PLAYERS: Seth Schorr  Fifth Street Gaming

Set in the midst of Las Vegas’ tech-driven downtown rebirth, combined with the sports and event-driven atmosphere of the city, Seth Schorr’s Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino is driving revenues by embracing the eSports lifestyle, complete with teams in residence, Twitch in hotel rooms, an eSports lounge and more. Schorr, who is the CEO of Fifth Street Gaming, is also on the board of GameCo, which recently announced its first licensing deal that will blend videogames with slot machines. Cynopsis spoke with Schorr about the learning curve of the eSports community, how it has helped his brand, and how videogames will change the casino floor.

Schorr on how the venue is leveraging eSports: We are activating these contests to plan ahead and get the local community engaged, which has worked. The idea is that, in addition to that, to hold big events  as we did in February with World of Tanks  along with big parties such as what we did for LCS where we did awesome activations for EVO. We also work with publishers to do release parties, hold focus groups, we hold boot camps. There are all different types of events that we are doing to engage a lifestyle, whether it is hosting awards, doing Life is Beautiful with eSports.

On entering the space: Our first introduction to eSports really happened around the time we opened the Downtown Grand. We were looking to do tournaments on our pool deck. The private equity owners of the Downtown Grand also own IGN, one of the biggest gaming outlets in the world. After about 18 months of operation here, we decided it was time to go back to eSports in early 2015. Everybody was excited to talk with us. Honestly, we weren’t sure a year ago whether the eSports community would mesh with the traditional casino customer. Fast forward to the end of last year, we held viewing parties and hosted our first team, the LA Renegades. We immediately knew that the eSports crowd was adding positive energy.

On lessons learned: The LA renegades is under new ownership. They are an amazing team and, looking back, by hosting a professional eSports team was the best thing we could do. It forced our hotel staff to embrace eSports as a community and understand their needs as athletes. Once they bought in to the fact, it allowed us to give the rest of community the respect they deserve and understand their infrastructure needs, the rigs, the hardware, the network infrastructure, etc. We are going to continue to work with them. We also like the idea of having multiple teams, dozens and dozens of teams throughout the year, come live with us for a week before a major contest.

On blending video gaming with gambling: To me, the cool thing about what GameCo and Blaine has done is that he has a very clear vision. This isn’t a slot machine with a video game bonus round. This isn’t a slot machine branded with call of Duty. This is a video game with a slot component. We are going all in and I’m telling ya that anyone under 45, who played arcade games, are going to find this uniquely familiar. 

Hear more from Schorr and panelists that represent GameCo, WorldGaming, Genius Sports and Skills on our Future of Gaming panel at the Cynopsis eSports Conference on June 23. Click here for tickets now!


June 2
Kick & Fennick (PS4)

June 3
Dangerous Golf (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Hard Reset Redux (PS4, Xbox One)

June 7
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, (PS4, PC, Xbox One)

GAMING SPOTLIGHT- Trailers that struck a chord.


Ubisoft served up a taste of E3, whetting appetites with the newest trailer for Ghost Recon Wildlands’ that takes place in an expansive open-world set in Bolivia. Featuring deserts, jungle, rain, mountains, forests, fog, salt flats, and more, the Ghosts will have to contend with while on their mission to take down the Santa Blanca drug cartel and its operation. Ubisoft promised to reveal more at E3 2016, with the game slated to come out in 2017. Click here to see the action.

ON THIS DAY in 2009: The Sims 3 is released.

Trivia: What famed musician was a playable character in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What WWE personality portrayed Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show? Answer: Captain Lou Albano. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Matt Charchan-Time Warner/NY; Rob Casalaina-ITN/ NY; Danny Araque/NY; Glen Ross/DC; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Julie Reuter-Pajama Marketing/Sydney.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

Cynopsis Ad Sales: Mike Farina | VP, Sales | 203-218-6480
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Review and evaluate the end to end UA graphics process; access needs and identify gaps in process or expertise; make recommendations to senior leadership.
Senior Manager, Product Development
Under Armour
Baltimore MD

Play a leading role in growing the UA network at corporate, distribution, manufacturing, and retail locations.
Senior Network Engineer
Under Armour
Baltimore MD

Integrating many software modules and data flows from embedded device, PC and cloud.
Web Application Developer
Hillsboro OR

Work as part of a team to deliver cutting-edge solutions directly to our key leading edge customers.
Cloud Solutions Engineer
Hillsboro OR

Collaborate in autonomous, cross discipline feature teams to successfully meet team goals.
Gameplay Programmer
Bellevue WA

Work on the analysis, architecture, design, and implementation of websites, game UI, and other complex and demanding projects.
Web Programmer
Bellevue WA

Identify, isolate, regress and communicate bugs effectively and efficiently with a focus on high complexity, hard to isolate and potentially high impact bugs.
Senior Quality Analyst
PopCap Games
Seattle WA

Seek to ensure strong quality coding practices, supporting the team with the development of tools and analysis of their code.
Software Engineer
PopCap Games
Seattle WA

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Pasadena CA

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Full Stack Engineer
Pasadena CA

Design and develop new engine technology for current and future games based on prioritized list of what other departments require.
Senior Engine Programming
Insomniac Games
Burbank CA

Take an active role in schedule maintenance, providing time estimates and task breakdowns for high level project requirements.
Senior Gameplay Programmer
Insomniac Games
Burbank CA

Clearly understands the problem at hand and focuses on a design solution that is targeted to solving the problem.
UI/UX Designer
Peanut Labs
San Francisco CA

Clearly understands the problem at hand and focuses on a design solution that is targeted to solving the problem.
Lead Product Designer
Peanut Labs
San Francisco CA

Contribute to the project’s success by creating, clean, efficient and maintainable code.
Software Engineer
GMR Marketing
San Francisco CA

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