07/14/16: Pokemon Go smash creates ripple effect; ESPN’s eSports blitz; ESL does the Dew


It’s Thursday, July 14, 2016, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

With headlines ranging from mammoth sales to AR to data concerns to branding opportunities, Nintendo’s release of Pokemon Go continues to create a ripple effect around the industry. The mobile release generated billions of dollars in market value to the company in a matter of days and sent the Tokyo stock market roaring for multiple days with projections that the game could generate as much as $1 billion a year. Meanwhile, new reports suggest that McDonald’s is about to become the first major sponsor of Pokemon Go, as franchises would become sponsored locations within the game and serve as potential gyms for players, according to Gizmodo.

"This shows a big shift for Nintendo, from being a hardware company to a software company," Bryan Buskas, chief customer officer at AdColony, told USA Today about the game’s success. "It also signals that Nintendo may bring valuable mobile (intellectual property) to consumers in the future, with titles such as Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda."


ESPN is launching its biggest eSports programming block yet, announcing that ESPN2 and ESPNU will carry 18 hours of programming dedicated to the space on Sunday. The slate will include re-airings of past eSports programs starting at 10a with the Madden 2016 NFL Championships on ESPN and continue into live coverage of the Street Fighter V World Championship from the EVO Championship Series final in Las Vegas at 10p. 

The Esports Championship Series announced plans to launch season two of its ECS Counter-Strike league this fall. Season two will include 20 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams (10 from North America and 10 from Europe) and kick off on Oct. 7, leading into the grand finals the weekend of December 8. “The open qualifiers will provide new teams the opportunity to showcase their talent to the world and join our top CS:GO esports league,” said Michele Attisani, CBO of FACEIT. “It’s our goal to provide new teams with a chance to be recognized in the community and become stars, while providing current ECS teams with a fresh pool of talent to test their skills against.”

Psyonix is looking to beef up funding for its eSports plays via a new micro-transaction system for Rocket League. Company Vice President, Marketing & Communications Jeremy Dunham posted that the crates would be cosmetic in nature and not offered on Steam, noting that “Those assets are, indeed, early pieces of an upcoming system we plan on implementing to fund our eSports prize pools and events. We plan on officially announcing it next month at (or near) the RLCS Live Finals since it directly relates to that event and other events like it, but since this image came out before our official word, we wanted to clarify some things for you”

ESL One Cologne saw its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams garner worldwide coverage with television broadcasts in Brazil (Globo), Bulgaria (Novo Sport), the Czech Republic (PrimaCool), Finland (YLE), Germany (ProSieben Maxx) and numerous Nordic / Baltic countries (EsportsTV) in addition to live streams on Twitch, HitBox, Azubu, Yahoo!, and more. “The way people consume media is constantly evolving. Some are fans of more traditional broadcasts on television, others follow solely on their preferred streaming site whilst a growing number immerse themselves in an array of social media,” said Chris Muller, Managing Director at ESL TV. “We try to ensure that our events cater to all types of eSports fans, and so are always working to expand our broadcast horizons. Viewership is on the rise – and that is in part thanks to the evolution of the viewing experience.” Meanwhile, the company announced that ESL One Cologne will return for its fourth year in 2017, taking place at the Lanxess from July 7-9.

Yahoo is partnering with SEAM and BEast of the East in a move to offer exclusive coverage and content from this year’s South East Asia Major. The tournament is set to return to the Capcom Pro Tour this year as a Premier Event, taking place in Suntec City, Singapore from October 7-9.

Twitch unveiled details surrounding its new Industry track for TwitchCon 2016, offering more than 70 confirmed panels. Sessions are broken down into two different tracks: a Community track that focuses on subjects related to broadcasting, moderating, and the fan experience, and a new Industry track related to the business and development of video games and live streaming. TwitchCon 2016 will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the San Diego Convention Center.


Source: Newzoo/MIP

Newzoo recently offered a look at the average revenue per eSports fan in their study, eSports, the Next Big Content Play, compared to average sports fans. Their findings showed significant room for growth in eSports revenues, with the average annual revenue per eSports enthusiast generating $2.83 in 2015 and projected to grow to $3.53 this year. That figure is below mature traditional sports such as basketball, which generates revenues of $15 per fan per year.


Cynopsis Digital’s 4th annual MODEL D AWARDS is open & ready for entries!

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In a recent interview with Gamereactor, Sony’s Jim Ryan, head of PlayStation Europe, offered clarity on the launch of Neo and its VR headsets, explaining the lack of a showcase for Neo at E3. “Two reasons: first of all, we need to keep these things to a manageable time," Ryan told the site. "We had all these games and we really wanted to focus on the games coming in 2016 and 2017 and beyond on PS4 and PlayStation VR. We didn’t want to dilute it or distract it by hardware-related announcements. But more importantly, we feel that when you make this sort of announcement, you don’t just trod off a list of specifications, but that you actually demonstrate what a device like Neo is capable of. And when we have the gaming applications to do that, then we’ll be ready and we’ll show it." Ryan noted that production was moving along smoothly and that the new VR headset is "entirely on track" for its Oct. 13 launch date.

Speaking of PlayStation, the company isn’t taking any chances on consumer confusion for upcoming VR titles. Sony VR releases will feature clear box art that alerts consumers about the tech capabilities needed to play the game, labeling ‘PlayStation VR required’ branding at the top of covers. Titles that require move controllers and a camera will feature necessary wording at the bottom.

Indie-support and publishing initiative Square Enix Collective announced that the total money raised via crowdfunding has now surpassed the threshold $1,000,000 mark. With one exception, all of the projects supported were based on original IP from small teams all around the world. “The data clearly shows that new teams with their own projects are finding it increasingly challenging to build awareness for their games, and even harder to raise meaningful amounts via crowdfunding,” said Phil Elliott, creator and project lead on Square Enix Collective.

Turner and Machinima are teaming up for Let’s Play Flooping Card Wars tomorrow, based on Cartoon Network’s new mobile game Adventure Time Card Wars Kingdom, that was inspired by hit series. Machinima hosts the event, offering live streaming around the world and featuring Machinima gamers ChimneySwift11, JeromeASE, CavemanFilms and TJ Smith Gaming. Tournament footage and commentary from each of the players will be available on their YouTube channels through July 25. Cartoon Network will then make the content available on its YouTube channels.

Developer Angry Mob Games is launching Brawlout, a new fighter game the echoes Super Smash Bros and set for Xbox One, PC, and PS4. The eight-player title will look to offer “the precision of violent fighters with a gorgeous animated style” and is set to be released the first quarter of 2017.

Blizzard is taking a stand against abusive World of Warcraft players dubbed “The Silence Penalty.” The initiative will restrict how and where offensive users are able to interact with the other players in the game with restrictions coming after multiple red flags and an investigation by the company. Punished users will be unable to post to public chat channels or send private messages to most players for a set length of time.

With the release of Ghostbusters in theaters tomorrow, Activision and Sony Pictures Consumer Products are releasing a pair of new Ghostbusters video games. The first, simply called Ghostbusters, serves as a third-person action role-playing game that takes place after the events of the film; each character can be upgraded with new gear and abilities throughout the adventure. Ghostbusters: Slime City is a mobile game that lets players become a ghostbusting recruit, allowing crafting unique proton pack loadouts for performance and cosmetic improvements while upgrading the headquarters and completing jobs for new and more powerful weapons and rewards.


Get ready for the Mountain Dew League, a new outlet from the beverage brand in alliance with ESL and ESEA that will look to help amateur gamers become pros in next season’s ESL Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) Pro League. The league will start in August and span 20 weeks in three phases. Throughout the tournament, DEW will offer competing gamers tools and training  including access to online tutorials and tips from pros. "MDL provides a unique opportunity for aspiring professional gamers to realize their dreams on a global stage," said Craig Levine, CEO of ESL America. "With the popularity of eSports exploding, we’re excited to partner with MTN DEW and find the next generation of Counter-Strike superstars."

The FTC has locked in a settlement with Warner Bros. over paid online influencers who it claimed failed to properly signpost positive sponsored content about the game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. YouTube heavyweight PewDiePie was among the celebs at the center of the controversy. Recode reports that Warner paid agency Plaid Social Labs to create sponsored videos for the game, with one PewDiePie spot reeling in 3.7 million views.

Rick Fox’s eSports franchise, Echo Fox, is blazing new trails, locking in a partnership with Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss’ bitcoin and ether exchange, Gemini to “integrate the emerging global market of cryptocurrencies into eSports.” “There is a deep-seated connection between video game culture and digital currency and the futures of both are innately linked,” said Fox. “With the rapid increase in the number of popular international events and athletes coming from every corner of world, the borderless nature of bitcoin makes it a promising candidate to become the de facto standard for payments across all aspects of eSports.”

Razer locked in a deal with Denial Esports that will outfit its players with Razer products, including keyboards, mice, headsets, and mats while playing in tournaments for League of Legends and Smite. Razer now claims sponsorship of 20 different eSports teams

EA Sports NHL 17 unveiled a trailer exploring the new features and improvements that will impact On-Ice gameplay in the title. Elements include authentic goalies, reactionary save intelligence, all-new net battles and dozens of new goal celebrations.


Nintendo offered a peek into its upcoming Universal Studios park plans. Nintendo Life writes that the new theme park is targeting an opening by the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and has topped $500 million in investment. The company has confirmed that the park will feature a Mario-themed area, with other titles expected to be announced later this year.


PlayStation third-party relations VP Adam Boyes is leaving his job, revealing on Twitter that he will depart Sony Interactive Entertainment to return to game development. “I’ve made the super difficult decision to leave PlayStation,” he stated in an appearance on the PlayStation Blogcast. “I want to go make games again. That’s the next chapter of Adam’s story: Making games.”

Twitch is setting up shop in Austin, opening a new office in the city that will be run by the company’s new director of product development Ken Demarest, who will assist game developers working with the streaming company.

GAMING SPOTLIGHT- Trailers that struck a chord

Take a video game staple, combine with a dash of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones and throw in a heavy dose of media blitz and you get the newest trailer for Square Enix’ Final Fantasy Universe. The company lays out the land in the spot, combining elements of a movie (which stars Aaron Paul, Lena Headey and Sean Bean) with anime and games. Final Fantasy XV will be out on Sept. 30. Click here to watch.

ON THIS DAY in 2008: Donkey Kong 3 released for the Wii.

Trivia: What is the name of the Pokemon pictured above? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which Avengers star voiced Officer Tenpenny in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Answer: Samuel L. Jackson. Kudos: Ted Dresdner-Viacom/NY; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; David Quiros-Weigel Broadcasting/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Alex Wang-Brave Ventures/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
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