Blizzard unveiled a few “firsts” leading into BlizzCon season, releasing a “Blizzard Community Spotlight 2018” infographic and launching a video campaign revisiting moments from BlizzCons past where fans can vote for videos from four different categories. Programming kicks off in three weeks with the “BlizzCon All-Access Kick-Off Show, a livestream featuring teases, reveals, and special guests. The show also marks the launch of the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket, including premieres for the first slate of exclusive video programming.
Dorna Sports unlocked a multi-year global partnership with Lenovo to serve as the exclusive technology sponsor of the MotoGP eSport Championship, and exclusive provider of gaming PCs, monitors and accessories for the Championship’s live events. The MotoGP eSport Championship sees eight online challenges lead into live semifinals and a final event. The first semifinal will take place at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in September.
ASUS ROG has been tapped to serve as Main Sponsor of CORSAIR DreamHack Masters Stockholm, supporting the event for a third consecutive year from Aug. 29-Sept. 2. As the event and official Monitor and PC partner, meaning all professional players will be competing on the ROG Swift PG258Q 240Hz 1ms monitor and the ROG Strix GL12 gaming desktop. On camera broadcast talent will throughout the event be equipped with the ROG Strix SCAR II gaming laptop for both work while on the on camera, as well as backstage preparing for upcoming matches.
The PGA TOUR’s Northern Trust Open out of NJ this week saw the launch of a Fortnite activation at Ridgewood Country Club as part of the festivities. Locking in HyperX as a sponsor and with celebs and golf pros joining the ruckus, the Attendee activation sees a tented structure on the 17 th hole that features 20 Xbox stations for fans. “Our experience early in the week with being a partner with the PGA TOUR has been fantastic,” said George Schneider, CEO of esports at Attendee. “Parents and kids have been enjoying a break from walking the course to experience a fun interactive space and meeting other golf fans.”
This week FanAI looks towards The International 8 along with a large portion of the esports audience. The Dota 2 championship event has the biggest prize pool in esports history, $24 Million dollars, but has no event sponsors outside of Dota 2’s publisher Valve. FanAI investigated the potential opportunity for brands in key non-endemic verticals to connect with Dota 2 fans by analyzing audience overlap data on Twitter.
Out of 3.4M unique twitter handles following an account related to Dota 2, the highest crossover was seen in the automotive and QSR categories. While both verticals reach roughly the same percentage of those 3.4M fans, QSR brands reach nearly double the amount of unique handles compared to the automotive brands. This means that auto brands are about twice as efficient at reaching Dota 2 fans as QSR brands.
FanAI speculates that this could be a result of Mercedes’ recent investments in the Dota 2 ecosystem and the meme-fueled community banter surrounding Volvo.
Valve officially opened the doors to Steam.tv, the company’s new streaming platform. The service officially went live on Aug. 20 with initial programming focused on coverage of the International. However, Steam.tv will add more games and functionality in coming weeks, months and years, with the plan on supporting all games. Features include match markers for important events and a live DVR feature.
In an announcement posted by the company on Monday, Twitch stated that it would start to phase out ad-free viewing with Prime on Sept. 14, while new Twitch Prime accounts made after that date will not have ad-free viewing. Viewers will still be able to access ad-free viewing on a channel by using your Twitch Prime sub, if the creator has the benefit enabled. Twitch Prime members who have monthly subscriptions will continue to receive an ad-free viewing experience through Oct. 15, while annual subscribers and those who upgrade to an annual subscription before Sept. 14 will continue to enjoy ad-free viewing until their next renewal date.
The Tempest Awards, a collaboration between Cynopsis Esports, Chief Marketer and Event Marketer, unveiled finalists for the 2018 ceremony, honoring the best in business from around the esports industry, including top competitions, media, activations, executives, talent and teams. Taking place the evening of Oct. 2 at Esports Arena Las Vegas as part of the Esports Business Summit, categories featured five finalists each, unless there was a tie, along with ten teams in contention for Team of the Year, ranging from new franchises making their mark on the scene to global organizations with teams represented at every major tournament. Congratulations to our finalists, and a big thank you to everyone who helped judge and submitted for this year’s honors. The full list of finalists can be found here. “We are truly grateful the hard work put in by Noah and our staff has not gone unnoticed by the esports industry. The nominations encapsulate a year’s worth of long hours, sleepless nights, and endless dedication to working towards the vision Noah set forth when he founded the company years ago,” said Ari Segal, President & COO of Immortals LLC, whose organization scored nominations for both Team of the Year and Executive of the Year for CEO Noah Whinston.
Developer Treyarch announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout beta will hit PC and Xbox One on Sept. 14 for players who pre-purchased any digital version of the game while PlayStation 4 owners partake in the beta on Sept. 10. The new battle royale mode lets players step into the shoes of fan favorite characters and battle through iconic settings from the “Black Ops” universe.
Tencent’s Arena of Valor has its sights set on the Nintendo Switch. The company announced that the free-to-play MOBA will be making its debut on the console next month.
Motorsport Network continues to dive deeper into gaming. After announcing the Le Mans esports series in June, the company has now added 704Games, NASCAR Team Properties’ exclusive console simulation-style video game licensee, under its umbrella. Motorsport Network joins other high-profile existing investors including HC2 Holdings Inc., PlayFast Games, LLC, Leo Capital Holdings LLC, and Gaming Nation Inc. as investors in the company. The move means that Motorsport Network is investing in NASCAR gaming for the first time and expanding its footprint within esports. 704Games’ newest video game release, NASCAR Heat 3, arrives at retailers on Sept. 7, while NASCAR Heat Mobile, the first authentic NASCAR mobile racing game, surpassed two million downloads earlier this year.
Psyonix, announced that the Progression Update will go live in Rocket League on August 29 for all platforms (pending first party certifications). The Progression Update will add a revamped progression system that retools in-game XP in addition to a new Clubs feature that allows players to organize and compete as a proper team (Club) with up to 20 members.
The Paley Center for Media announced the launch of PaleyGX: Your Ultimate Gaming Experience, described as a new destination for gamers and families. This immersive and free experience features video games geared toward all age levels, for both casual players and avid gamers, across multiple platforms including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, high-performance PC gaming, and Oculus virtual reality. Visitors can play in four areas with initial games featured in Paley GX include Fortnite, Minecraft, Overwatch, FIFA 2018, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Mario Tennis Aces, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, LEGO Marvel SuperHeroes 2, Rocket League, MLB The Show 18, Madden NFL 19NBA 2K18, NHL 18, and more.
Misfits Gaming will open an esports arena in Berlin in a move to provide space for “streamers, pro players, special events, and more, bringing our family together under one roof.” “Choosing Berlin for our first local arena makes perfect sense for our organization the foundational piece of Misfits is our European League of Legends team which is headquartered in Berlin,” said Ben Spoont, co-founder and CEO of Misfits Gaming. The team will hold a grand opening for the arena in September at Berlin’s Europa Center.
SPOTLIGHT: Rob Simmelkjaer, NBC Sports Ventures
As season two of the Universal Open Rocket League wraps up this weekend on Twitch from Friday through Sunday, Cynopsis Esports asked Rob Simmelkjaer, Senior Vice President, NBC Sports Ventures, about the company’s return to esports, the season and its partners.
Simmelkjaer on esports: Season one was a great success – I believe our biggest takeaway from season one was that despite our identity as a TV sports broadcaster, esports must be approached with a digital-first mindset. The majority of our audience last year was (not surprisingly) on Twitch, and we wanted to make sure we tailored our content more closely for that audience going forward.
On changes to season two: We made some tweaks to the format and schedule of this year’s event to maximize the digital audience, and linear TV windows this year are non-live highlight shows. We think that’s a good model going forward. We also added more total hours of content and added a European qualifier to account for the popularity of Rocket League across the Atlantic.
On trends: Participation and engagement are on par with last year’s event, in the midst of a much more competitive summer of esports. Social engagement with the event has been very strong as well.
On esports and RSNs: We think the model we’ve created for the Universal Open – with regional tournaments feeding up into the international Grand Finals, is a unique one. It allows us to tap into the grassroots communities that exist in many esports including Rocket League. It also allows us to utilize facilities and production teams across our regional networks.
On the future: This year marked the second edition of Universal Open Rocket League, as well as the addition of the NHL Gaming World Championship to our stable of esports properties. We’re excited by our progress in the esports ecosystem, and we are looking for strategic opportunities to continue our growth in the space. We are interested in adding at least one additional event under the Universal Open umbrella in 2019.
WESA is making changes, announcing that Pietro Fringuelli will take over duties as the Commissioner and Chairman of the executive board, succeeding Ken Hershman in the role. Hershman, who joined WESA as commissioner in 2016, helped to achieve the goals set by the teams in the initial phase of WESA’s development, according to the announcement, transforming the startup organization into a sustainable company. However, moving forward, a larger group will lead WESA and manage the day to day operations, headed by Fringuelli. Meanwhile, Jan Pommer, will also join as special adviser to the new Commissioner and the teams to achieve new goals in this second phase.