Overwatch League strikes a milestone deal with Disney and ESPN

Overwatch League strikes a milestone deal with Disney and ESPN

9:49pm, 11th July, 2018
If you’re sick of hearing about esports, you need to get over it. The space continues to grow, inching its way into the traditional media landscape. Today, in fact, that the Overwatch League playoffs will be aired on ESPN and Disney XD. The , as it’s the first true city-based league for a competitive video game. While most esports leagues consist of privately owned teams with little or nothing to do with geography, Overwatch League is a pro league made up of city-based teams such as the Dallas Fuel or the San Francisco Shock. Many of these teams are owned by big names in the traditional sports world, such as Robert Kraft (CEO and owner of New England Patriots, who owns the Boston Uprising) and Jeff Wilpon (COO of the New York Mets, who owns the New York Excelsior). The agreement, which also includes a recap/highlights package from 2018 Grand Finals coverage on ABC on July 29, marks the first time that live competitive gaming has aired on ESPN in prime time, and will be the first broadcast of an esports championship on ABC. Activision Blizzard said in the announcement that this is just the start of a multi-year agreement. That said, EA’s Madden NFL 18 did on ESPN2 and Disney XD earlier this year. Overwatch League playoffs begin tonight at 8pm ET, and will culminate in the Grand Finals, taking place in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, on July 27 and July 28. Here’s what Justin Connolly, EVP of Affiliate Sales and Marketing at Disney and ESPN, had to say in a prepared statement: The Overwatch League Grand Finals is by far our most comprehensive television distribution for an esports event over a single weekend: 10 total hours over four networks and three days. This overall collaboration with Disney/ABC, ESPN and Blizzard represents our continued commitment to esports, and we look forward to providing marquee Overwatch League coverage across our television platforms for fans. The rise of Twitch stars, like , and the growth of the competitive gaming scene have paved the way not only for a new type of sports media, but for a growing new economy. While challenges remain around monetizing the content, the pieces of the puzzle are slowing coming together to create an audience large enough to incentivize advertisers to spend big money. In fact, sponsorship revenue and ad spending revenue are , according to Newzoo. That doesn’t sound like much when you think about the NFL, which raked in $1.3 billion in revenue in 2017 alone. But, like this deal proves, the esports space is growing and working its way into the mainstream, hoping to get the attention of young men between 18 and 34 who have become increasingly difficult to reach via traditional advertising. Alongside the live TV broadcast of the Overwatch League playoffs on ESPN and Disney XD, the playoffs will also be live-streamed via Twitch, MLG.com and on the ESPN app and DisneyNOW.
Steam May Be About To Get Some Serious Competition

Steam May Be About To Get Some Serious Competition

10:28pm, 10th July, 2018
One company is hoping to give Valve a run for their money by opening up a once regional digital distribution outlet to the global audience. This could end up giving Steam some serious competition in the near future if things begin to take off.
Tilting Point expands its user acquisition fund to $132M in annual spending

Tilting Point expands its user acquisition fund to $132M in annual spending

11:25am, 10th July, 2018
Mobile games publisher and marketer is dramatically increasing its commitment to its user acquisition fund. The company at the end of 2016, which it said would help developers grow their games while remaining independent. Today it revealed that it’s committing $132 million in annual spending to the fund. CEO Kevin Segalla said that as mobile app stores become more and more crowded, “user acquisition has gotten incredibly complicated,” so most indie developers “don’t have the tech and the expertise to do it.” That’s where Tilting Point comes in. President Samir El Agili said the company has built “machine learning technology to maximize and optimize user acquisition.” It likes to work on games that are at the “crossroads,” taking a solid game with a sustainable business model, then dramatically accelerating its growth with advertising. The initial fund led to partnerships on and . Segalla said that given the fund’s success, the question became, “How can we do this at a much larger scale?” which led to the much larger fund commitment, thanks to capital committed by CFC Capital (Tilting Point’s majority shareholder) and Metropolitan Partners Group. Just to be clear, the $132 million isn’t a price tag that Tilting Point is putting on its own services, and instead represents money that will actually be spent on advertising. Segalla argued that the deals are structured in a way where Tilting Point’s incentives are properly aligned with the developer’s. “This is not a loan that we’re giving them, it’s not something where we’re looking for equity, there’s no ongoing revenue share,” he said. Instead, the company is betting that that the spending will pay off in its relationship with developer and the resulting fees: “What we’re doing is risking our own capital because we believe in our marketing, our tech and our team.” Tilting Point says it’s open to partnering with developers in any genre, and is also looking to work with developers internationally. Segalla predicted that fund could allow Tilting Point to work with 20 new games each year, though El Agili noted that the exact number will depend on the games: “The truth is, if get two to three games that do extremely well right away, we can start spending a lot of money.”
When Fortnite Season 5 Will Begin

When Fortnite Season 5 Will Begin

6:53pm, 9th July, 2018
Epic Games is celebrating the growth of Fortnite with the announcement that there is a Season 5 inbound. The fifth season is actually scheduled to get underway so much sooner than you were expecting that you'll probably fall out of your chair with excitement when you find out just how...
Overwatch ‘Pink Mercy’ sale raises $12M for breast cancer research

Overwatch ‘Pink Mercy’ sale raises $12M for breast cancer research

4:04pm, 9th July, 2018
It can be hard sometimes to grok the scale of the gaming community, but the occasional charity event not only demonstrates the hugeness of the industry but also its diversity and willingness to shell out for a good cause. Today Blizzard announced that an Overwatch charity campaign for breast cancer research in just two weeks. Overwatch is an extremely popular team-based shooter that has made an impression not just with its solid gameplay, but its striking and inclusive character design. This sensitivity to the ever-widening demographics of gaming led them to conceive of this charity campaign back in May. Players could for a limited time purchase a special “skin,” or 3D model, for the character Mercy — she’s the most powerful healer in the lineup, so the choice makes sense, even though the statuesque blonde isn’t exactly their most interesting character work. (A Pink Genji would probably look cool, but it would probably just make more people play him — a regrettable outcome.) Special skins are highly sought-after, and while many can be obtained through in-game loot boxes, they can also be purchased. In this case, the price was set at $15, rather high for a skin but clearly that didn’t deter players, who shelled out by the thousand for both it and related t-shirts. I asked for a breakdown, but a little napkin math gives a basic idea of the volume. The press release announcing the $12.7 million number says “thousands” of t-shirts were sold at $30 apiece; usually if it’s 10,000 or more they say so, so we’ll just use 10K as our estimate. That makes $300K from shirts, so the remaining $12.4 million means somewhere north of 820,000 people paid for the Pink Mercy skin. Think about that! In two weeks more than three quarters of a million people paid $15 each for a virtual item. Pretty great. It’s all going to the , by the way. They got a big novelty check: And this is by no means the only big gaming charity event. regularly raises millions, and Penny Arcade’s got so big that it had to be spun off as its own thing. It just recently funding pediatric hospital equipment and staff, by the way. This event went well enough that we can probably expect more in the future for other causes — I’ve asked Blizzard for any details on that front and will update if I hear back.
Game developer ArenaNet fires two employees following Twitter exchange, spurring controversy

Game developer ArenaNet fires two employees following Twitter exchange, spurring controversy

11:57pm, 6th July, 2018
Official press asset for ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2. Two narrative designers for Guild Wars 2, developed and published by the Bellevue, Wash.-based studio ArenaNet, were fired on July 5, following an argument on Twitter that went viral. The move has been widely condemned in the games industry even as many fans of the game are vocally celebrating it, which has spurred a larger conversation about the frequently-acrimonious relationship between video games, those who make them, and those who play them. On July 3, Arena.Net narrative designer Jessica Price on her personal Twitter regarding the challenges of writing and characterizing a player character in an MMO, who is by necessity a blank slate. came from a Denmark-based YouTuber, Deroir, which drew a sharp response from Price. Today in being a female game dev: "Allow me–a person who does not work with you–explain to you how you do your job." — Jessica Price (@Delafina777) According to Price, asked to comment on the firing , Deroir’s tweet was a typically frustrating exchange for her on social media. “By the time that guy came along, I was so tired of having random people explain my job to me in company spaces where I had to just smile and nod that it was like, ‘No. Not here. Not in my space.'” Price’s tweets began on the Guild Wars 2 subreddit. Via Reddit, Twitter, and the official Guild Wars 2 forums, players issued a series of ultimatums and attempts at boycotts over Price’s conduct. When Price’s fellow narrative designer spoke up in her defense (with several tweets that have since been deleted), he got . The situation was abruptly resolved by on July 5, where he announced that due to failing to uphold standards of communication with players, two employees —presumably Price and Fries — had been dismissed. This was met with applause from the GW2 community, but condemnation from developers and journalists. As Arkane Studios’s Hazel Monforton wrote on Twitter: Gamers treat developers’ personal twitter accounts like customer service hotlines. We’re expected to have no boundaries and to take in good faith and humor everything from ignorant complaints to accusations of incompetence. As soon as we say “no”, we‘re harassed out of a job. — Dr. Witch Hazel, PhD
We Happy Few Will Be Released In Australia After All

We Happy Few Will Be Released In Australia After All

6:17pm, 5th July, 2018
Compulsion Games was jubilant to share some fantastic news with gamers about the upcoming first-person, satirical horror game, We Happy Few. After the game was initially refused a rating classification in Australia, the ratings board has now reversed its decision on appeal.