Why eSports Will Rise On Mobile Devices

With eSports continuing to grow exponentially in the PC gaming space and more activity in the console space, mobile is the newest platform for game developers to connect with eSports fans.

Skillz is the first company to bring eSports to mobile games by allowing players to compete against each other for real money. The company has partnered with over 350 Android and iOS game studios, ranging from mobile publishers like Glu Mobile to small indie operations, and facilitates eSports competitions in hundreds of mobile games. Andrew Paradise, founder and CEO of Skillz, explains why mobile could evolve as the largest eSports platform in the world in this exclusive interview.

Andrew Paradise

How have you seen traditional eSports grow over the past few years?

The entire industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Last year the U.S. government started recognizing eSports competitors as professional athletes by granting them visas, which was really a landmark event for an industry that has been battling questions of legitimacy for years. In terms of the sport itself, we have seen prize pools balloon from basically hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands dollars, and now millions.

This year we saw the biggest eSports prize pool in history for the International DOTA 2 Championships. The $10 million payout was more than the prizes awarded at the 2014 Masters Golf Tournament and the Tour de France. Even more remarkable is that the competition was watched by more than 20 million people. With prizes and audiences of this size, I don’t think the legitimacy of eSports can be questioned or ignored anymore. We are looking at a future where multimillion dollar prizes will soon be the norm and the number of people watching and competing in eSports will exceed participation in many popular offline sports.

What opportunities does mobile open up for eSports?

Mobile is the most accessible gaming platform ever invented. The player population for mobile games is almost 2 billion people worldwide, whereas the population for traditional hardcore games is somewhere below 100 million.

The accessibility of mobile games is transforming gaming from a hardcore, niche activity into a mainstream phenomenon. In many ways, mobile is actually bringing gaming back to its roots. Video gaming started with traditional arcade machines, which were very much a part of mainstream culture. Gaming narrowed into a hardcore audience over time due to the price points of home consoles (or high end graphics cards for computers) as well as the price points of the titles, which now often exceed $50 apiece. Up until very recently, being a gamer had a very high barrier to entry.

Now with mobile, games are available at very low price points, many of them even free, and nearly everyone in the world has a device to play them. This means the potential size of eSports audiences and players will jump from millions to billions.

How have advances in smartphones and the proliferation of tablets opened up new opportunities for mobile eSports?

Technological advances and larger displays on mobile devices have given game developers even more creative flexibility in recent years. For the first time, the graphics processors of mobile devices are approaching the capabilities of traditional consoles. In fact, we’re nearing the point where your smartphone or tablet will be the most powerful device you own. Without question, the recent technological advances have evolved mobile into a legitimate gaming platform. Now, nearly everyone has a powerful gaming device in their pocket with hundreds of thousands of games to choose from. For eSports, this means that mobile will bring in a much greater variety of content with a much more larger and diverse audience.

What role do you see livestreaming, given Twitch and Youtube are on mobile devices, playing in this new mobile eSports territory?

For something to transcend from game to sport, you need a large audience. One of the factors that continually stifles the development of new offline sports is the challenge of attracting sufficient crowds to early competitions. Up until very recently, viewership has been a major problem for eSports, too. However, livestreaming through channels such as Twitch and YouTube, have created a solution, allowing eSports to rapidly build crowds around the world by overcoming the limits of geographic proximity and circumventing the need for a physical arena.

For mobile eSports, live streaming will play the same critical role that it has played in establishing the larger eSports industry, especially when it comes to building awareness and excitement around mobile eSports titles. Recognizing the giant opportunity mobile eSports presents, Twitch recently enabled mobile streaming, and we are already seeing users amass giant followings by streaming games like Clash of Clans. This is a trend we fully expect to continue as eSports become more and more popular.

What’s going to be key in creating games for the mobile audience?

Historically, game developers have been forced to build content that caters to existing monetization tools. For example, turn-based games have evolved as developers identified an opportunity to show ads during natural game breaks. As another example, resource gathering games have evolved as a means of driving in-app purchases, which is something they do very effectively. However, the consumer expectation that games will be free to download on mobile has largely enslaved mobile developers, rendering them beholden to monetization tools like advertising which disrupt the gaming experience.

With mobile eSports tournaments rapidly gaining popularity, developers are free to focus on gameplay rather than monetization. Competitive eSports are an incredibly effective way to monetize mobile games, but competition is also intrinsic to gaming itself. This means there is no longer a conflict between content that monetizes and content that is fun.

The key to the future on mobile will be effectively leveraging this new creative freedom to invent game mechanics and core loops that haven’t been done before. There are many things that mobile devices can do that PCs and consoles cannot, and developers who are best able to take advantage of these differences are the ones who will be most successful.

How will publishers be able to compete with huge games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 in the never-ending eSports season structure?

While games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 have become huge eSports titles, they are dwarfed in size by many of today’s popular mobile games. Last month, DOTA 2 had 9.5 million active users. Compare that to Angry Birds which had 200 million or more, and it becomes very easy to see how disruptive mobile can be to the traditional eSports hierarchy.

With the ability of many new phones and tablets to stream to big screen HD and even 4K TVs, what role do you see PC screens playing in how people watch mobile eSports?

Mobile eSports will be huge with or without live events, so video quality was never going to stop the rise of mobile eSports. However, with HD streaming capabilities, the final piece of the puzzle is now in place as there are no longer any limits to the size or scale of events that can bring eSports fans together.

What kind of live venue opportunities are there for mobile, or does mobile even need this?

Live opportunities for mobile will largely be similar to what we are already seeing with traditional eSports. There is no reason to believe that mobile will follow a different pattern or path. At the end of the day, video gaming is video gaming. Whether it’s hardcore content or casual content, people are interested in seeing how the best of the best perform. For mobile games, people will do that both by watching online and by attending live events both large and small.

One key differentiator for mobile eSports is accessibility. Because phones and tablets are highly portable, mobile eSports events can happen anytime, anywhere. While there will certainly be mobile eSports events in sold-out stadiums, there will also be events at local bars and on college campuses across the world. Some of these events will be scheduled and others will happen organically on an ad hoc basis. This accessibility is part of the reason we believe that mobile is going to be the platform that lifts eSports to unprecedented levels of popularity.

How does the mobile eSports audience differ from the core gamers who watch PC and console eSports competitions?

The audience for mobile eSports is much broader than the audience for PC and console because the player base for mobile games is so much bigger and more diverse. This audience includes core gamers who are playing games like Hearthstone as well as people playing more casual games like Angry Birds. And this is why mobile eSports are so exciting for the industry. Mobile brings a variety of competitive content to the table, and varied content will be critical in ensuring eSports mainstream success.

What opportunities are there for the mainstream sponsors that have gravitated to traditional eSports in recent years?

Existing sponsors only stand to benefit from the rise of mobile eSports, as the massive influx of players and viewers will bring greater exposure to their brands. The new opportunity is for sponsors who have previously remained on the sidelines because, prior to mobile, eSports hadn’t connected with their key demographics. Mobile is changing that by bringing in a hugely diverse audience whose demographic is attractive to a much wider range of sponsors. Whereas traditional eSports have been largely male dominated, on the skillz platform, we have competitive titles where almost all of the best players are women. With this in mind, it’s easy to envision a future where traditional eSports sponsors like Red Bull and Coca Cola are joined by mainstream brands like Johnson & Johnson and Dove.

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – September 17th

[a]listdaily is now your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

  • Blizzard – Director, Partnerships and Promotions (Irvine, Calif.)
  • Hulu – Content Acquisition (Santa Monica, Calif.)
  • Maker – VP, Director of Talent Partnerships (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • A&E – Director, Marketing Initiative Development (New York, NY)
  • Ayzenberg – Director, Business Development, ION (Pasadena, Calif.)

For last week’s [a]list jobs, click here.

eSports Reaches Tipping Point

This year will be remembered as the year the eSports phenomenon reached a tipping point in how it is viewed by the Western world. The once niche past-time has finally secured its place in the mainstream media, with more and more brands realizing the endless opportunities it presents, both for those inside and outside the games industry.

Today, Newzoo launches a series of country reports, sizing and profiling the eSports audience in great detail for 18 countries across the globe: Sizing and Profiling eSports’ Popularity in Germany, Korea, Russia etc. More information, including a dummy version of the report, pricing and all variables available in the data component, is here: www.newzoo.com/esports

The League of Legends world championship event, which occurred late last year at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, triggered the interest of American mainstream press. Following this, the rise of the eSports phenomenon, and the press attention that it receives, has accelerated rapidly. Valve’s DOTA 2 championship in July, The International, showed that viewership, prize money and press coverage have all doubled or tripled during the past year. The acquisition of Twitch by Amazon reflects the fact that eSports sits at the epicenter of a much larger trend in digital media: facilitating the consumers desire to not only experience, but also to actively create and share content. It is not surprising that all media and advertising-related companies, are evaluating the opportunities for and . . . possible threats to their business. Newzoo’s eSports Country Reports and Data aim to support smart decision making with a deep understanding of the consumers that are ultimately driving this trend.

One year ago, an eSports event in Madison Square Garden would have been unthinkable. In three weeks from now, the holy New York entertainment ground will host an ESL One DOTA 2 event organized by Turtle Entertainment. And this week, the same company announced they will fill the 18,000 seat SAP Center in San Jose, in the centre of Silicon Valley, for the Intel Extreme Masters featuring League of Legends and StarCraft. The rise of eSports continues.

Half of eSports viewers does not play

Based on our analysis of our consumer research results from the majority of eighteen countries, a surprising insight surfaces: approximately half of all eSports viewers does not play any of the well-known eSports franchises such as DOTA 2, StarCraft, League of Legends, World of Tanks and Call of Duty. Two reasons could explain this: first of all, there is a large group of gamers that prefer playing one of the smaller competitive game titles. Secondly, gamers that have started a family suddenly lack the time to spend playing the games but still enjoy the suspense provided by watching other gamers play on the highest level.

Thus, eSports viewers aren’t so different to the millions who tune in to Premier League & World Cup matches.. despite having retired or never picked up their football boots. When you consider the majority of this audience is young males, a demographic that is hard to reach through traditional marketing, it’s easy to see why brands such as Coca-Cola, RedBull Intel and T-Mobile are investing in this space.

Below are two examples how our eSports Reports and Data can be used with a special focus on TV and digital media subscriptions.

CNN viewers are the most likely to be eSports enthusiasts

When we look at the popularity of eSports amongst viewers of US TV channels, CNN comes out on top. Of all CNN viewers in the US, an impressive 23 percent either watch or participate in eSports: 5.5 million people. MTV & Cartoon Network have the second and third highest share of viewers that are involved in eSports with 21 percent and 18 percent respectively. ESPN, who recently discarded eSports as being irrelevant, ranks fourth.

eSports enthusiasts are twice as likely to have a paid Spotify account

It is not only important for big brands to realize that they can target a mass audience through eSports, but also to understand just how valuable this audience is in terms of willingness to spend on their (digital) products.

Through our research, we can quantify the eSports audience that currently owns a subscription to a number of services. In this case we examined Spotify, Netflix & HBO subscribers in the US, UK, Germany and France. Clearly, the eSports audience is more likely to have subscriptions to all three services than the general gamer population. For example, 22 percent of them are currently have a paid Spotify subscription compared to 11 percent of all gamers, this is 46 percent vs. 34 percent for Netflix and 35 percent vs. 21 percent for HBO. This group not only consumes more digital media than any other, but they are also willing to pay for it.

More information, including a dummy version of the report, pricing and all variables available in the data component, is here: www.newzoo.com/esports

[a]list Summit: Mobile Marketing Comes to The W Hollywood Hotel December 3rd

We’re exploring each conference panel with in-depth analyses. Get the rundown on the mobile video landscape here

Today, [a]listdaily, [ion] and Ayzenberg are announcing that the next [a]list summit will be held at the W Hollywood Hotel on December 3rd. We will celebrate that this year we’ve officially entered the mobile era of marketing with our 10th summit.

It’s exciting times as what has been in the horizon for so many years now is now a reality as the mobile revolution is unlocking new markets and revenue-streams for entertainment companies and brands alike.

The days of desktop dominance are over. Mobile has swiftly risen to become the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for an astounding 60 percent of digital media time spent in the U.S., according to ComScore.

Here are some more interesting numbers illustrating what happened in 2014:

  • The average American spends 151 minutes daily on smartphones compared to 147 minutes watching TV
  • Facebook is making more than half their revenues from mobile ads.
  • Kim Kardashian: Hollywood app has been valued at $200 million.

What does this mean on strategic and practical levels for brand marketers and entertainment companies  Get ready for a day packed with inspiring stories and hands-on practical advice from leaders at some of the hottest mobile media and entertainment companies.

Learn new skills while making powerful connections in the entertainment capital of the world. Check out the official website and register here. (Don’t wait, our last summit sold out with over 375 people signed up!)

Are you a brand marketer You may qualify for a free pass! Just fill out the form here.

For more information about the summit, including speaking and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Joakim “Jay” Baage, Executive Director, [a]listdaily / Ayzenberg, email jbaage@ayzenberg.com and phone 626-584-4070 x 570.

Rhett & Link Predict the Future Of Video On ‘Ear Biscuits’

By Jessica Klein

In the current digital age, the idea of a future in which our way of life has completely altered lurks potentially just around the corner. Rhett & Link paid homage to this concept in this week’s “Ear Biscuits,” when they created a podcast “time capsule” for listeners in the year 2024.

From Google Glass to drones, the comedic duo contemplated contemporary technological advancements and their possible evolution. When it came to video in particular, the two, being in the business, had plenty to say.

First up on the video docket, Rhett & Link discussed the future of cinema. If you’ve ever been to Disney’s Epcot Center, you’re at least semi-familiar with the notion of movies that stimulate the senses of smell and touch in addition to sight and hearing. 3D film has been an Epcot staple for some time, now, and one can easily call it a regular at any old cinema in 2014. However, Rhett believes movies will have to step up their game even more to bring in audiences come 2024.

“My prediction is that the movie watching experience at home will be so much better or even comparable to what we would get in a theater now that people will have had to upgrade what the theater provides in 2024,” said Rhett, adding, “Smellovision, don’t laugh.” Perhaps that technology will end up in our own homes, too (3D viewing did), but people still end up paying to see 3D movies in the theater. Even with early film releases online and on demand, the theater-going experience remains unique—a more appealing first date, for example, than inviting someone over to watch a movie on your living room couch (which could also be construed as a very creepy first date).

Next, the guys turned to commercials. Link still “sits through commercials that subsidized the production of television shows.” They further noted that though they’ve found a way to subsidize their online content, they still can’t churn out shows like “Breaking Bad” (Link’s example). Of course, there are many reasons behind this, but among then lies an undeniable distinction between traditional television and shows on YouTube.

“We make YouTube videos, which people do enjoy on their television sets if they’re a little more tech savvy, but in general, we still see YouTube as a different entity from television as a different entity from internet television as a different entity from movies,” Rhett explained. Link concurred, noting that he may watch a short-form YouTube show while waiting for his wife to join him to watch a longer show on streaming video platforms like Netflix or Amazon—all on his home TV screen, of course, not his laptop.

Rhett & Link also pointed out the difference between the Emmys and the Streamys. The former considered plenty of content from Netflix this past year (none of which won in any major categories), while the latter distinctly honors YouTube creators. However, the somewhat disparate categories have further merged in at least one awards ceremony, the Teen Choice Awards. However, Rhett brought up that the ceremony refers to recipients who create content and put it online as “internet celebrities.”

On this note, Rhett made his final predication for the podcast. “While I think there will be something distinctly different about independent entertainment, like what’s on YouTube, and studio-based entertainment, it’s not going to be like, ‘Well, one is on this website and one is on my TV when I get home,’” he said. However, he does think (and hopes), that the line between independent work and network/studio-based work will remain in 2024.

For more rehashing of current trends and predictions of what’s to come 10 years from now (worth about 50 pre-internet years), listen Rhett & Link’s “time capsule” podcast on “Ear Biscuits.”

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

Michelin’s Newest Social Campaign Gets Participants Geocaching

Geocaching is a hot activity as smart phones enable more and more people to go on quests to find treasure and also help them share their experiences. This was the thinking behind Michelin’s latest campaign to leverage the online geocaching community with a fun scavenger hunt that enters you for a chance to win $1,000 worth of tires.

Michelin has hidden 2,000 Bibendum-shaped (the mascot’s name of course) tire gauges for the adventurous to find and then post their finding using #MichelinQuest on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

In return, Michelin gets great UGC in some awesome locations. The top 10 photos get up to $1,000 of tires and the most-liked photo gets to choose between dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant’s event or going to the Formula E electric race car series.

Source: Digiday


Microsoft Completes Acquisition Of Mojang

After there had been whispers over the past week about the sale, it’s finally official – Microsoft just made a huge “blocky” purchase of Mojang.

The company announced the acquisition of the game studio, which is responsible for the best-selling Minecraft games. The deal is worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

As far as why the company’s mastermind, Markus “Notch” Persson opted to sell the company to the big “M”, Mojang’s Owen Hill provided an explanation on the company’s website. “He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance,” he said. “Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang.”

Following its sale to Microsoft, Persson will be departing the company, alongside co-founders Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser, with none of them indicating what they’ll be doing next – at least, not yet. The “vast majority” of employees will remain with the company, though, providing Microsoft with plenty of worth.

But will the purchase change the nature of the Minecraft series and its direction That won’t be the case, according to Xbox head Phil Spencer, who provided words of reassurance. “Minecraft adds diversity to our game portfolio and helps us reach new gamers across multiple platforms,” he said. “Gaming is the top activity across devices and we see great potential to continue to grow the Minecraft community and nurture the franchise. That is why we plan to continue to make Minecraft available across all platforms – including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.”

With the move, Microsoft will take over on the yearly Minecraft convention, and plans to boost community in the process. “We’re excited to welcome Mojang to the Microsoft faming and we are thrilled to support the success and longevity of Minecraft for years to come,” concluded Spencer.

As far as Persson’s personal thoughts on the sale, he took to his personal blog to express himself. “As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments,” he said. “If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

“Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.

I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

AMC Picks Up ‘Humans’ From Xbox Entertainment Studios

With the announcement that Xbox Entertainment Studios would cease operations (in favor of more game-oriented content for the Xbox consoles and other mediums), AMC Studios has taken an interest in one of the studios’ more interesting projects.

The channel behind such popular shows as Hell on Wheels, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead is close to finalizing a deal to bring the series Humans to development, in conjunction with U.K. broadcaster Channel Four and Shine Group-owned group Kudos.

Although the studio hasn’t officially mentioned supporting the series, it already has stated that it’s involved with various cast members from the project, with a rumored start date of sometime next month, according to Variety. The series, which will span eight episodes, is likely to premiere sometime in 2015.

With Xbox Entertainment Studios somewhat in flux, AMC assures that a cast can finally be “nailed down” for the production, and that it can move forward into actually being made.

The show, based on the Swedish series Real Humans, deals with regular people who have robot servants, and how their reactions actually play an impact on day-to-day proceedings. As you might guess, the robots actually look a little human themselves.

The show is being produced by Jane Featherstone and Derek Wax, and Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley are on board to write it.

With its partnership with Microsoft, AMC can resume show-making duties from XES, while two other projects, the Halo series produced by Ridley Scott and another by Steven Spielberg and Showtime, remain in the works. Since they’re tying in with Microsoft forthcoming releases of Halo: The Master Chief Collection this year and Halo 5: Guardians next year, these shows shouldn’t run the risk of being cancelled.

What do you think Will Humans make a prime addition to AMC’s show line-up Do you think it’ll fit right in with the likes of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad

Source: Variety

Marketers: More Brand Awareness Efforts, Please

Brand awareness is one of the hottest new trends in marketing, mainly because, well, it’s making customers more aware of the power of said brand. A majority of marketing professionals is looking to boost their spending when it comes to said trend, somewhere over the next twelve months. At least, that’s according to a recent August 2014 poll from InsightExpress.

The poll indicates that nearly 56 percent of eMarketer daily newsletter readers and visitors have stated interest in spending more on branding-related activities over the next year, while another 27 percent feel that maintaining current spending levels is the right thing to do. That shows the effectiveness of brand awareness, as well as its demand with audiences, as well as global business expansion efforts and spending on events.

That’s just in the U.S. as well — those polled in Latin America and Asia-Pacific are even more compelled to spend more money on brand awareness, with 59 to 60 percent of respondents looking to utilize it. Demand generation was also quite high in both of those countries, as they indicated they would invest in that as well.

So who was the least likely group to use brand awareness to their advantage Surprising enough, it’s Canada. There’s still a majority there, with 51.1 percent of marketers that planned to spend more on it, but demand generation fell a bit with only 33.7 percent of those polled in support of it.

As a result of said poll, demand generation has fallen a bit, with only four in ten indicating they would spend more in that department.

But the focus here is on the growth of brand awareness, and over the next 12 months, consumers shouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in this regard for various companies.

What do you think Should brand awareness play a bigger part over demand generation

Source: eMarketer

PewDiePie Teams With MLG For eSports

PewDiePie remains one of the most successful YouTube creators to date, making millions across a large audience of viewers and subscribers alike. However, that isn’t stopping him from venturing out into new territory.

Felix Kjellberg, who operates the channel under the pseudonym, has launched a new series called BroKen that will air exclusively on MLG.TV, with the debut episode already on the channel. The series first launched last month, but with the agreement, new ones will premiere exclusively on the competitive game channel.

In the show, Kjellberg teams up with his friend Kenneth Morrison (also known as CinnamonToastKen) – and addresses all as “bros” – as he discusses a number of topics that range from the usual gaming antics to popular YouTube trends.

The show will also provide plenty of opportunities to interact with the hosts, as viewers can follow @MLG on Twitter and use the hashtag #BroKen in order to have their questions answered, or see how their opinions relate to the topics at hand.

This interactive new podcast already has a huge following with its move to the MLG Network, with the initial show being viewed over 3.8 million times on YouTube, since its debut last month.

“We’re excited to introduce PewDiePie to the MLG.tv network as we continue to deliver exclusive content from the best producers in the world,” said Ryan “Fwiz” Wyatt, MLG’s vice president of programming. “Our vision for MLG.tv is to make it the home for premium content and producers like PewDiePie and his show BroKen. This type of programming deal with PewDiePie, one of the biggest stars in digital media, is a great example of the premier talent we have joining the growing the MLG.tv line-up.”

That line-up includes a number of game leagues and players, as well as MMA fighter Scott Jorgensen. It’s grown quite a bit in popularity since its launch, available on both mobile devices and Xbox consoles.

Indeed, Kjellberg continues to be on a roll.

Source: Variety