Category Archives: eSports

Facebook is bringing gaming videos to the living room

Facebook is determined to become a destination for gaming videos, and that includes when you’re lounging on the couch. It’s adding a dedicated gaming tab to its TV app that will highlight videos from the games, developers, eSports teams and personalities you like on Facebook. If you want to catch a tournament highlight or a new game trailer, you won’t have to pull out your phone or leave the living room.

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The social network tells us the gaming section will be available June 10th on Amazon’s Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Samsung Smart TVs. This probably won’t be your first choice for gaming videos, but consider this: some platforms (most notably Apple TV) don’t have great choices for gaming-centric videos. Unless you’re content to search YouTube, this may be your best bet for gaming videos if you don’t have access to the likes of Twitch or Mixer.



Video gaming: the next high school sport? Competitive esports gain traction

If you think about what constitutes a sport, the contest that took place recently at Robert Morris University checked many of the boxes.

Did the competitors put in many hours of practice? Yes. Did they possess physical and mental gifts? Affirmative. Was teamwork a crucial ingredient for success? Absolutely.

The only thing missing, really, was perspiration — it’s hard to break a sweat when you’re sitting in a climate-controlled room, moving little more than your fingers.

This was the second High School Esports Invitational, a video game competition that serves as an unofficial regional championship for many Chicago-area schools. Sixteen teams flocked to the computer-packed gaming arena at Robert Morris’ downtown Chicago campus to sort out who was best at the online fantasy game “League of Legends.”

But for some, the event offered more than the chance to win a trophy and a $1,200 first-place prize: It was another step toward making video gaming a mainstream sport on par with baseball, football or auto racing.

“NASCAR’s a sport, right?” said Tony Pape, who coaches the esports team at Burbank’s Reavis High School. “They’re sitting in a chair, they’re using controls, same as these kids here. (Gaming) is not as physically demanding but it’s mentally demanding. It demands a lot of teamwork, coordination and practice. I consider it a sport, absolutely.”

The Illinois High School Association, which governs interscholastic sports in the state, is intrigued. Executive Director Craig Anderson said it takes about 80 schools to create a viable sport, and should the interest become evident, esports could join the roster of sanctioned sports and activities within a few years.

“I see it much like when we added bass fishing,” he said. “People were like, ‘What?’ But if our schools are forming teams and their students have interest and it’s developing, we’d want to organize in a way where we could crown a state champion.”


While competitive gaming has been around since at least the early 1970s, the latest iteration, driven by wildly popular online titles, has reached unprecedented heights. Professional gamers sell out arenas and have their matches broadcast on ESPN, while a growing number of colleges — led by the pioneering program at Robert Morris — offer athletic scholarships to top players.

Still, the high school scene has remained quiet even though teens are a prime audience for video games: No state has sanctioned gaming as an official sport, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

But the groundwork has begun as more schools create esports clubs, often backed by supportive administrators. Case in point is Oswego East High School.


PewDiePie Deals Major Blow to YouTube After Moving to Twitch

Felix “PewDiePie” Kjelberg has dealt a major blow to YouTube, revealing that he will now start a weekly gaming show on the site’s streaming rival Twitch.

PewDiePie, the owner of YouTube’s most popular channel by a considerable margin with over 53 million subscribers, has branched out to Twitch for the first time in his video-making career amid YouTube’s ongoing advertising issues. With major brands such as PepsiCo and McDonald’s having withdrawn their ads from the site, many of the site’s most prominent users have revealed that their earnings have significantly decreased, leading to widespread panic in the process.


In the wake of this hysteria, PewDiePie has launched his first ever show on YouTube rival Twitch, with his new channel NetGlow producing a weekly gaming show titled ‘Best Club.’ He previously made the announcement in a video titled ‘YOUTUBEISOVERPARTY,’ in which he discussed the effect the so-called YouTube “Adpocalypse” is having on the site’s creators. He said: “Also, I’m going to Twitch now… I decided this before [YouTube’s issues with advertising], so don’t read it the wrong way, but I wanted to start doing streams on Twitch.”

 Also: YouTube Advertiser Claims the Site’s Blacklisting “Provocative” Channels and Destroying Their Revenue

While PewDiePie has stated that NetGlow’s creation wasn’t inspired by YouTube’s advertising problems, the timing of its launch could not be better for the site’s content creators. With many YouTubers growing increasingly frustrated by YouTube and its parent company Google, PewDiePie staging a weekly show on Twitch will inevitably draw more eyes to the site, and will likely inspire more video makers to follow suit. Though Twitch is a completely different format, many creators are now looking to diversify their revenue as full-time careers on YouTube are becoming increasingly uncertain, and PewDiePie’s success in bringing a new audience to the streaming site could open up doors for many of his contemporaries.

In a video discussing the ongoing saga surrounding advertisers moving away from YouTube, PewDiePie called the reasoning behind advertisers’ mass exodus “massively overblown.” With ad companies pulling out of the site as a result of their products being advertised on racist videos, he said that it “doesn’t make sense” that all YouTubers should be affected “because of five racist dudes.”

“The reason people love YouTube is that it’s free, it’s open and you can say what you want. It’s not like television,” he said. “But it seems like YouTube is being forced to turn into television at this point. That’s going to be bad for everyone.”

While PewDiePie will still remain on YouTube, him moving to Twitch will be a troubling development for the company, with him having previously created videos exclusively for the Google-owned site. However, a number of high-profile issues with the popular YouTuber has soured their relationship, with the controversy surrounding his anti-Semitic jokes leading to YouTube pulling the second series of his reality show, Scare PewDiePie.


G2 eSports To Live Stream Games, VOD Content On Facebook Live

Starting next week, eSports is coming to Facebook Live. Spanish team G2 eSports and its players will be delivering content on the social platform starting Feb. 1, making it the first time an eSports team has streamed on Facebook Live and publicly announced that it has worked closely with Facebook’s eSport partnership team.

The non-exclusive streaming collaboration on Facebook Live will include live gameplay broadcasts, video on-demand content and footage from events as well. Fans will be able to access the live streams on the traditional News Feed, video tab and on Facebook’s newly-launched Gameroom Windows, a desktop gaming platform.

“One of G2’s biggest goals is to share our love of this industry with all fans by making our content as accessible as we can, while also helping lesser-known streamers looking to make a name for themselves,” G2 Founder and CEO Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez Santiago said in a statement. “We pride ourselves on innovation, and by leaning into Facebook as an audience platform, we see a world of new opportunities beyond what the current streaming ecosystem offers.”

G2, which was founded in late 2013, currently fields teams in League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Vainglory, Hearthstone, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros.


Strongbow Investments sponsor M19 (ex-Albus Nox Luna), provide $22 million USD estate gaming house

Last week, LCL League of Legends team M19 announced new sponsorship from Strongbow Investments for an undisclosed amount “comparable to the top 10 largest esports organizations in the world” and a new estate gaming house, valued at approximately $22 million US dollars. Yahoo Esports received a press release following the announcement.


Andrei Mikheyev, head of M19, now reportedly one of the wealthiest esports organizations, held a press conference to unveil the team’s new sponsor and gaming house. M19 have acquired the Albus Nox Luna team in the CIS LoL region. As ANX, this roster was the first team from a Wildcard region to advance past the Group Stage at a World Championship.


The new M19 gaming house where the press conference took place is a Strongbow holding Moscow estate named Manor Nikolsky. It was built in the 18th century and is valued at 1.3 billion rubles, or roughly $22 million USD, according to The Auction House of the Russian Federation. This new house is only the start of M19’s plans to invest. New owners and sponsors Strongbow Investments, a portfolio assets investment group dealing primarily in real estate and medicine, plans to invest “millions of dollars annually,” according to the press conference, but Mikheyev did not disclose a specific amount.

This announcement marks the first massive investment in CIS League of Legends to develop a Play-in or Wildcard team, but Mikheyev claims M19 won’t stop there.


M19 plans to create a full-fledged “Asian-style” esports organization in Russia. They have started with a League of Legends team, but have stated they plan to move into Dota 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive.


The investment will go into developing esports teams and new players as well as providing a healthy environment. Each player will have a tailored training program, including physical education and working with sport psychologists.


M19 will also look for additional sponsorship, but claim they will not be satisfied with brands that “just give money and ask to stick their logo on the players’ shirts.” The organization wants active partners.


The Dallas Cowboys are thinking about getting into eSports

According to AdAge, the Cowboys have chosen the Alliance Data-owned marketing agency Epsilon to determine whether it should make a move into the competitive gaming space.

For the Cowboys, it would be all about generating profit.

“When it comes to something like e-sports, it makes so much sense for us because we’re such a sales driven organization,” said Matt O’Neil, senior VP of brand marketing for the Dallas Cowboys. “If we thought we could buy a team for — gimme a number — $2 million, $3 million, $5 million or whatever, but get $7 million in sponsorship deals over the next couple years it becomes a no-brainer.

“Whether or not e-sports thrives long term, if we felt we could make that money today, then let’s go.”

The Cowboys would be the first NFL team, but not the first professional sports team to jump into eSports.

The Philadelphia 76ers acquired and merged two eSports teams in September. The Houston Rockets hired a director of eSports development in December.

In Europe, soccer teams Valencia FC, FC Schalke 04, and West Ham United have launched eSports teams.

None of those teams have a stadium or video board like the Cowboys do in Arlington. Could you imagine playing video games on the giant center-hung scoreboard in AT&T Stadium?


The growing need to regulate virtual currencies in esports

Just a few years ago, no one would have ever thought to associate gambling with esports, yet it’s fast becoming commonplace to make a bet on matches and major tournaments.

The growing market for esports gambling is in fact a contentious issue, which you’ll notice in the discrepancies in revenues reported by gaming market researchers, SuperData and Newzoo. While SuperData includes betting in its 2016 revenues, which tallies to an overall tune of $892.8 million, rival Newzoo excludes it altogether, dropping that figure to nearly half the sum at $493 million.

Newzoo CEO Peter Warman explains the rationale behind the decision in an earlier report: “…We believe betting on esports should not be mixed into direct esports revenues as the money does not flow into the esports economy. Similarly, sports betting is not reported in sports market reports.”

You don’t have to search for long to find a bookmaker that already offers betting on esports matches and tournaments. Largely unregulated, it’s been a common occurrence lately to hear of reports of match-fixing scandals or black markets like skin trading in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, valued at $5 billion in 2016.  Forty percent of that went to betting on the outcomes of esports matches and tournaments.

Regulators are now wrestling to put into play the necessary legislation to legitimize and regulate the gambling activities that are increasingly taking place in social gaming. Earlier this month the Massachusetts Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming, and Daily Fantasy Sports put it on the table.

“So there’s the legit people playing as a competitor, they’re playing in a contest and playing for money, and then there’s people who are betting on those people … then there’s a whole gray and black market of people betting on people playing video games for money,” Justin Stempeck, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission state attorney, said in the eSports Betting Report.

The state’s law that currently regulates daily fantasy sports is set to expire this summer, at which time esports might very well get bundled in for the next round. Regulators are also apparently well aware of how special the situation is, given that the entire esports landscape is powered by the kind of technology that is rapidly and perpetually shifting the sands.

“The trick [to regulating esports] will be to come up with a framework that is appropriate and nimble enough to deal with innovation and technology that changes on the fly.” Eileen Donaghue, Commission member and Massachusetts state senator, said shortly after the meeting.

Last August, the U.K. Gambling Commission released a paper that addressed the need to clarify whether the risks associated to betting with virtual currencies like in-game items or bitcoin is equivalent to gambling and, if so, whether gambling licenses need to be brought into play.

“Like any other market, we expect operators offering markets on esports to manage the risks — including the significant risk that children and young people may try to bet on such events given the growing popularity of esports with those who are too young to gamble.” Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission general counsel, reported in the press release.

Enter the rise of loyalty point platforms in esports, or more commonly being referred to as virtual currencies.

These nonmonetized points systems are being positioned as central to engaging spectators, with startups like Revlo offering it as a third-party platform to broadcasters, or even more recently built-in as integral to the broadcasting platforms themselves like Twitch’s newly minted Steam+.

Spectators can earn these virtual coins by watching a live stream of a match or participating in a contest. They can then redeem or spend them on activities like requesting their favorite song to be played by the broadcaster, or betting on what a broadcaster might do next.

The virtual currency that Steam+ and other providers are putting into play are just for fun at the moment and are leveraged as an effective approach to inspiring fan engagement and loyalty, in a way that’s easy for spectators to understand. So it won’t be able to be misused and get into the kind of issues Valve has recently faced with the whole skin trading controversy because it doesn’t open itself to being traded or monetized by third-party sites or platforms.

But it isn’t hard to fathom that any virtual currency that promotes betting ‘for fun’ also caters and facilitates, at least in part, to the same psychological dynamic at play in real betting. And calling it a currency instead of a loyalty point platform is likely a hint to what’s to come if and when a viable road for monetization opens up.


NBA to create professional eSports league with NBA 2K, could be ‘huge money-maker’

The NBA is going big with eSports. The league is creating the first-ever NBA eSports league in partnership with Take-Two, makers of the popular NBA 2K series. ESPN reported the news late Wednesday.

Launching next year, the NBA 2K eLeague will eventually feature 30 NBA 2K teams, each owned by the 30 real-live NBA franchises.

The teams will feature five human gamers who will play a full five-month season on NBA 2K, along with playoffs and a championship. The gamers will earn salaries and train throughout the season. They won’t play with real NBA players in the game.

ESPN reported that the eLeague could be a “huge potential money-maker,” and noted that the NBA will roll out a number of revenue-generating mechanisms around the new league like live events and sponsorships.

While this is the league’s first official foray into eSports — the idea is certainly a first across U.S. pro leagues — several NBA owners have invested in professional gaming teams.

The NBA is generally known to be forward-thinking compared to other big leagues. This season, it is streaming one game per week in virtual reality; it is streaming pre-game shows on Twitter; it streamed a game on Facebook Live; it created a new “mobile view” streaming feature; and the league also recently inked a long-term deal with Sportradar and Second Spectrum for a new player-tracking system and expanded global distribution of statistics.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke at CES in Las Vegas last month, noting will become easier to watch games — or parts of games — on mobile devices in the future. Silver said the league may get to a point where it will let a fan pay to access a stream for a short amount of time.


Don’t Trust ‘For Honor’ Reviews Today

For Honor comes out today on PS4, Xbox One and PC today, and if you’re the sort of person that reads video game blogs, that means you’ll probably be out there looking for some reviews. So here’s a word of advice: reviewers did not get access to this game until normal players today, and so any early reviews are likely to be incomplete or unreliable. We’ll probably start seeing reviews pop up tonight or tomorrow, but those won’t be based on enough playtime to render a real opinion. Don’t trust For Honor reviews until the end of the week at least, and even then might be pushing it.

There’s a reviews arms race that happens whenever new games come out, but it’s especially extreme for games where reviewers can’t play until actual release. Inevitably the people who rush to get a scored impression up as quickly as possible are also the ones who are doing the least thorough job, and are more likely to trend either extremely negative or extremely positive. Neither position holds that much water. You need time with a game to see how much you like it, and at this point, nobody has had that time. People have indeed played betas for a while at this point, but reviews should always reflect the finished product and not the lead-up.

As always, the only way to make any sort of effective use of reviews is to find some voices that you trust and follow them. It’s a muddy world of video game writing out there, after all, and relying too much on Google or aggregators can make things pretty confusing.


The good news is that I’m pretty optimistic about this game so far: it’s a new concept that, so far, seems like it works. It’s a fighting game crammed into a third-person hack-and-slash with the overarching structure of a PvP shooter, and I had a ball playing the recent open beta. I had my doubts about whether a deep system of PvP melee combat could ever work as well in reality as it does on paper, but early signs are looking good. Look for first impressions later on today, but I’m excited to see how the final game stacks up.


Mobile Esports Income to Level Up in China

Esports have grown popular enough in China that Alisports, the unit of Alibaba that owns the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) video game tournament, announced last month that the international competition’s finals would remain in the country for the next 10 years. Revenues from live video game competitions like WESG are expected to surge in China in the coming years, with mobile garnering a growing share.

A January 2017 report from International Data Corporation (IDC) said that mobile esports revenues in China hit RMB17.1 billion ($2.75 billion) in 2016. But compared to projected future revenues, that’s small change: IDC predicts mobile esports revenues will total RMB53.7 billion ($8.62 billion) in China by 2020, up 214% vs. 2016.

Mobile, however, is still just the little brother when it comes to esports in China. A December 2016 report, also from IDC, found that client-end gaming—which takes place via a network connection to the main game server, often on a desktop or laptop—pulled in RMB32.7 billion ($5.25 billion) in revenues in 2016. That’s nearly double mobile’s tally.

Esports are already widely recognized as a pastime in China. According to video game research firm Newzoo, internet users in China accounted for 28% of all internet users worldwide who were aware of esports in 2016—more than the share for either Europe (22%) or North America (15%).


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