The Game Is Changing For Public Relations

The role of public relations is ever more important to the games industry, as more and more games are trying to find an audience in an increasingly crowded market, and keep that audience engaged for a long time. Crafting and disseminating the right messages for a game or a company is therefore a more important task than ever before. At the same time, the tools available to bring a message to people have undergone a massive evolution. There’s a dizzying array of social media, new technologies, and an audience that’s bombarded with more messaging than ever before.

The [a]listdaily reached out to some experienced PR professionals to find out some answers about how PR has changed and will continue to change. In consideration of the fact that these professionals need to deal with a wide variety of clients, it was agreed that keeping their identities concealed was for the best. After all, it’s the messages that are important here, not the messengers – yet another key thing that PR professionals are acutely aware of at all times.

Of course, the foundation of public relations is still intact. “In many ways, the job of the PR professional hasn’t changed,” one long-time PR exec said. “It’s still about providing great service to clients, getting coverage for their news, building buzz and ultimately helping define the brand. Much of the blocking and tackling of achieving those goals is the same: building and maintaining relationships with media, developing messaging and story ideas with clients, pitching those stories, monitoring the media messages, etc. There may be more tools now to do the job; but at the end of the day, quality coverage translates to ROI, and that’s what clients are looking for.”

Still, the job of public relations, and especially PR for gaming, has definitely changed over the past few years. “Public relations today is about eight galaxies away from the original construct of the art many years ago,” said a PR veteran who’s worked for some of the largest companies in the business as well as startups. “Those best trained in the original art of PR have great depth of experience to offer but staying on and creating the leading edge of what PR really is today is essential. A key component is that ‘launching and leaving’ is the traditional method for PR — you get the word out there and then go on to the next thing, with manicuring and refreshing as needed. Today, you must be in touch every minute and know what on the Internet or other avenues is essential and what is just noise. PR is about working on living and breathing products and issues..that is what the Internet has done.”

The changes in games have led directly to changes in PR strategy — it’s a process, not a point in time you must work towards. “Also, another key changes is the death of the structured , quarterly or twice yearly product release cycle,” the veteran noted. “Products today are living, breathing properties so it’s not all about one big launch, but instead, an ongoing process for new releases, updates, issues, passionate response from consumers, etc.”

Technology has certainly affected how PR does its job. “Generally, there have been some significant technology changes in the past few years that have affected PR,” noted the PR exec. “Take social media. It’s become a communication channel not only for sharing stories but for maintaining relationships. The PR person needs to be adept at using these tools, at understanding how they affect and drive communications and stories, and at how to monitor them.”

“More tools, including social media, now also exist to capture in real time (or almost real time) what coverage has happened, which makes the life of a PR person easier in the sense that they can understand quickly what the media landscape is, what storylines are filtering to the top, what sort of coverage they’ve captured for a story, etc,” continued the PR exec. “That transparency also means the client has access to similar information, so the PR professional is in some ways more accountable. I think that’s a good thing, though, as it ultimately drives up the quality of PR efforts across the board.”

While technology has made some parts of the PR job easier, it’s also meant that PR professionals need to be on top of their game at all times. “Speed is also a factor in today’s PR world,” said the PR exec. “The news is traveling and spreading faster than ever, disappearing faster, morphing faster — all of which means a PR person’s reaction times need to be faster than ever.”

“PR, like game, is an art, not a science, so in this way, the two areas are emotionally simpatico,” said the PR veteran. “Truly successful PR today works strategically and powerfully on all cylinders of media relations, social engagement, influencer work, consumer hands-on and input, and having a strong position on why your product is worth people’s time and being able to articulate it extremely well.”

While good PR, like good marketing, is a powerful accelerant to the success of a good game, it’s not sufficient to drive a poor game to greatness. “As the industry has matured and the number of digital entertainment products available to players today is growing by the minute, the one great divide and challenge for PR is in promoting a product that isn’t of high enough quality to satisfy users,” noted the PR veteran. “If you have an amazing product and a great PR and marketing team, you could be golden. If you have a poor product, and a great PR team, you are lucky. If you have a poor product and an average PR team, don’t launch!”

#TheDress, Buzzfeed And The Brandwagon

Just after 6 p.m. Thursday, BuzzFeed posted what might be its single most-shared article ever (according to AdWeek): “What Colors Are This Dress.” The Buzzfeed staff had noticed that a Tumblr post from the user swiked was getting an unusual amount of traffic, reposted the picture and a simple comment: “There’s a lot of debate on Tumblr about this right now, and we need to settle it” and added a poll where people could vote on the color of the dress.

Less than a day later, the article had over 28 millions views, the poll had almost 3 million votes and the hashtag #TheDress and #whiteandgold {link no longer active} were trending on Twitter with both other publishers and brands jumping on the bandwagon.

Buzzfeed’s ability to tap into these kind of conversations and nudge them into that space where we begin to speak about it as a phenomenon is really the result of data-driven content creation optimized for consumption. What Buzzfeed does is make it simple for people to share and talk about something and its scale ensures that so many eyes will see. It’s as much about understanding internet culture and behavior as the data and building a vessel to capture the traffic. A post by writer and programmer Paul Ford on Medium summarizes it well: “(1) Putting people on two teams, (2) a hint of magic, and (3) some science.”

As the data tells us that debatable dress colors and escaped llamas are the conversation du jour, brands who wants to bottle this kind of “magic” further have to navigate the murky sea of whether or not the conversation is relevant to them as participating seems to be an engagement gold mine. While jumping on the brandwagon may be tempting, Ayzenberg’s VP of Social Media Rebecca Markarian warns that brands should pick their conversations wisely:

“There’s no reason for brands not to get in on the occasional internet sensation, but chose wisely.  Jumping in on trends can be risky so make sure you have a good idea, you’ve thought through possible negative reactions and your brand partner is aware and ready to take the risk. In this case, XboxCommunity and Sonic are all brands that made sense to have a little fun with the meme so we went for it and clearly the positive fan response tells us it was a smart move.”

Hollywood Values Tweets Highly

Social media obviously plays a big part with movie releases — just look at the online hype behind such efforts as Sharknado 2 and Snakes On a Plane — but the real value comes from tweets that are pointed at films leading up to their release.

According to Variety, the value behind a single tweet, on average, that focuses on a film during its opening weekend, is estimated at $560. This information comes from a study conducted by Networked Insights. That value can vary, though, especially depending on how closely it goes up to coincide with the film’s premiere.

An example of this has a moviegoer’s tweet pricing around $713 on average for additional box office revenue, but it drops to as low as $161 a week before the film’s release. Thus explaining why even the most hyped films can have a severe drop-off, no matter what kind of hype gets behind it.

The report states that the value can vary by genre, with tweets to animated family films getting better exposure because of the multiple ticket holders that go see it — compared to, say, the hoopla surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey, which has seen a tremendous 70 percent drop-off in box office sales following its debut week.

As you can see from the charts below, Tweets have a habit of degressing leading up to the film’s release, and you can see just how effective family animation is compared to, say, comedies.

There are factors that tie in with the excitement for a film, such as Marvel Studios revealing several character-oriented posters for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, leading into its May 1 release date. Also, TV spots that include footage from upcoming movies can play a part, enticing people to get that much more excited about a film. Star Wars: The Force Awakens managed to excite people all over the Internet, and that trailer debuted well over a year before the film’s release, which is December 18.

‘There’s been a lot of discussion over the value of social data when it comes to the movie business,” said Dan Neely, CEO of Chicago-based Networked Insights, which tracks social media discussions in real time. “We wanted to look at what’s the actual value of the consumer engaging with the movie landscape. Now you can actually put an empirical value on it.”

One other study that producers and studios could pay attention to is a new Tweet per Impression metric being introduced by Nielsen. Variety reports that with the system, studios can see just what kind of a social impact Twitter has on its products, be it movies or TV shows.

“We’re going to spend a lot more time focusing on this category,” said VP of client services Erika Faust, talking about the system. “Advertisers now want to start looking into this.”

Right now, the study is focused on the entertainment industry, although it could easily go into other categories if successful. “It’s early days, but we’re finding a lot of interest from studios using social as another indicator and for networks to use to their advantage as well.”

Looks like it’s time to go to the movies.

Mobile Cost Per Loyal User Hits Record

The January 2015 App Store Competitive Index already indicates a strong start for the year when it comes to mobile apps, as they easily surpassed the 10 million download mark, with 10.3 million daily downloads, up from the previous record of 9.2 million. That’s a 12 percent growth month-after-month, and a 61 percent leap from January 2014.

However, with that, mobile marketing costs are also on the rise, according to Fiksu. The Cost Per Loyal User Index (or CPLU) shows the cost of acquiring a loyal user for brands that actively market specific apps. It’s sitting at an all-time high of $2.90, highlighted by the chart below. That’s a 38 percent jump from the previous month, and a 61 percent year-over-year increase (compared to just $1.80 from January 2014). The numbers increased across both iOS and Android alike.

Marketers are following suit, adapting to what Fiksu calls “the new reality of apps” with consumer demands focusing more on major brands, thus building a new demand on the app landscape in general. Of course, there’s also some light concern with these costs, as some marketers have to make adjustments so that profit is still met. (With more popular apps, like Clash of Clans, this obviously isn’t too big a concern.)

What most companies are paying attention to now is to see if this growth in CPLU continues, since it has risen quite a bit over the previous year. With that, some marketers may have to adjust, becoming more strategic with their marketing plans and learning from channels that provide layers of audience targeting. This includes a heavy outreach via social media, including Facebook, Twitter and RTB. More precision targeting and bigger strategies could also help adjust costs with earnings, and hopefully keep the flow of popular apps going in the months ahead, leading into 2016 — where the numbers could be bigger than ever.

Fikus also tracked the rise in CPI for January. “The January Cost Per Install Index (CPI), which measures the cost per app installs directly attributed to advertising, increased to $1.28 on iOS, a 9 percent rise since last month and a 7 percent increase since last January. On Android, CPIs also rose 9 percent for the month, to $1.53, a 23 percent increase since last January. As the shift to more sophisticated targeting is evident, marketers can expect that a larger part of their mobile strategy will include channels that offer several layers of audience targeting, such as Facebook, Twitter and RTB, which will increase CPIs but also increase the value of each acquired user,” noted the company.

The full results of this report can be found here, on Fiksu’s page.

Image source

Why ‘Fable Legends’ Going F2P Matters

Microsoft sure is giving plenty of free entertainment to its subscribers. It’s offering a handful of favorites as part of its Games With Gold program next month, including Rayman Legends and Bioshock Infinite; and it recently announced a promotional Forza Horizon 2 expansion that ties in with the forthcoming film Furious 7. However, perhaps the biggest shocker is when developer Lionhead Studios decided the fate on the adventure game Fable Legends, opting to give it a free-to-play business model.

Microsoft announced the plan this week, in an effort to promote the forthcoming Xbox One/PC adventure game for its release later this year. The game will operate on a cross-platform basis, and its content will be wide open for players, with the option to purchase other goods through Microsoft’s virtual Xbox Live Marketplace.

The move is an important one for several reasons. First, while both Sony and Microsoft have allowed free-to-play games on their consoles before (World of Tanks on the Xbox 360, Warframe, DC Universe Online, and other games), this a major exclusive by the console owner, and it’s not an MMORPG. There will likely be many more free-to-play games appearing on consoles, and if they become increasingly successful this will put pressure on games that have a $60 up-front cost. Microsoft isn’t waiting for some other publisher to get established in this sector, but it’s going there ahead of them. This may accelerate the move to free-to-play, if it does well.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Lionhead Studios lead John Needham explained the decision, which, in a way, was influenced by Riot Games’ immensely popular adventure game League of Legends. “There’s no denying the similarities there,” he explained. “We all play League of Legends. I’ve spent a good year-and-a-half of my life hard playing League of Legends and love it. So there’s no denying that was the big inspiration of ours.”

Director David Eckelberry explained how well the free-to-play model works with certain console games, noting Wargaming’s World of Tanks for Xbox 360 – which is coming to Xbox One as well this year. “For me, the better ones for the customers are the ones where you get to enjoy all of the content without paying money. And then you pay if you want to.

“Our mission is for a fun experience on any platform. As a first-party studio our goal isn’t to invoke anything vaguely like buyers remorse. I want my players to feel like, oh, I bought something cool. I don’t regret that purchase. That’s what matters to me.”

He continued, “When I’ve played my 30th hour of Hearthstone, at some point I decided, I should probably give Blizzard some money. I felt like I owed them something because they’d made such a great game for me to play, and I didn’t need to spend money in the game, but I thought I should. So I bought some card packs. I did the same thing in Team Fortress and eventually in League of Legends.

“That’s the kind of feeling I want to invoke with our players. I want them to have such a fun experience that some percentage of them go, okay I’m going to buy a hero that just came out, or I’ll get Winter a new hairstyle and a cool-looking hood. That’s the kind of feeling we want to generate in our players where, we’ve offered them such a good time that they’re spending time in it that they feel valuable,” he concluded.

With the move, Microsoft could easily shift the market more in the favor of Xbox One, and intends to add even more to its library with announcements coming this June at E3…and perhaps even sooner.

Fable Legends will release later this year.

Issues Need Addressing For eSports To Grow

Twitch has had a remarkable year with its online broadcasts, ramping up the culture of eSports as we know it and also bringing out a number of players and fans that will follow it to no end. However, the COO of the popular channel, Kevin Lin, there are some things that could use ironing out.

Anyone who’s still concerned with legitimacy needs to move on, because it’s here. And it’s here to stay,” he said, speaking with GamesIndustry International about the phenomena of eSports.  He believes that the cycle of growth with eSports will continue, especially now that it no longer seeks outside validation to earn its place.

He added, “The first couple years, between 2010 and 2012, there was a lot of that search, that desire to be compared with a sport,” Lin said. “But over the last few years, because the audience has tuned in and everybody’s paying attention from the advertisers on down, it’s not really so much a search for legitimacy any more. It’s just a search for growth. That’s what people are aspiring to now. The legitimacy problem, in my opinion, is gone.”

However, new problems are in place, and Lin believes they could use addressing. “One big thing is as each [game’s] community grows, you start to see this huge influx of tournaments online and offline,” he explained. “And it becomes this sort of glut of events. There are only so many players and so many teams to participate in those events, and many events’ success really hinges on what teams they can get to come play. Now you’ve got almost every single weekend where players are flying from China to Sweden to the United States, and it wears on them.”

Although an answer isn’t in place for this yet, he believes that increased regionalization of tournaments to cut down travel for competitors could be a key factor, or even “inherently global.”

“People want to see the best teams from around the world play. That’s what they expect,” Lin said. “My guess is the organizations will start to organize with each other. They already do in some sense, making sure not to schedule over each other, but maybe there’s some more coordination.

“You see this constant influx of talent, but a big part of it is the storytelling for that talent, not only how you discover them, but how you help them become popular and well known, how you draw that star power, so to speak,” he continued. “There’s a lot of work to be done there by the whole industry to help that.”

A good ecosystem could also be the ticket to keep the health of eSports growing. “How do you fund these events How do you fund the prize money or pay for player travel Right now a lot of that hinges on sponsorships, ad revenue, subscriptions, and in some games there’s the opportunity to create in-game items that can help fund it, but it’s tough,” he said.. “It’s really tough going for a lot of these guys. One of the big things that will happen this year, and has been happening over the last couple years is bigger and bigger sponsors are coming in to help build that foundation. Hopefully sponsors start to respond, especially big non-endemics, start to pay attention, realize this is a great audience for their brand, realize it’s an interesting and growing cultural phenomenon, and that they begin to embrace that. That will really help boost the scene.”

One other major concern is the controversy of match-fixing, which has arisen a few times in tournaments over the years. “Every sport is not without its own scandal,” Lin said. “You look at traditional sports and they’ve got doping issues. They’ve got match fixing issues too. They have scandals around refs and whether they’re actually being non-biased. It’s just going to happen in a growing industry like this. So is match-fixing a problem Absolutely it’s a problem. Cheating is certainly a problem as well for online tournaments, and even physical tournaments where people figure out ways to apply cheats. And it’s just going to take maturity of the scene. It’s going to take everybody in that scene wanting to drive toward legitimacy to push that. It’s going to involve the game companies, the players, the team owners, the leagues. They’re all going to have to say, ‘Look, we want to create something here, and every time something like this happens, it really takes us a step back. So how do we all move forward together ‘ And it’s going to take a lot of coordination from all parties to do that.”

More input from Lin can be found in this article.

At The Intersection Of Hollywood And VR, There Are Possibilities

by Sahil Patel

Does virtual reality have the potential to be a viable commercial platform for the entertainment industry  Maybe!

But first, there needs to be good content.

That’s the message passed on by those who are already active in the field — from the Hollywood studios and producers making VR content to the tech companies building and selling affordable VR devices. It’s the obvious answer, for sure, but also a necessary one: To achieve scale and monetization, first there needs to be videos that people want to watch.

“From a movie studio standpoint, we see VR as one iteration and one toolset for advancing the visual experience,” says Ted Schilowitz, who, as a “futurist” at Fox, is tasked with identifying emerging media platforms for the studio to be active on. Fox has already made some investments in VR, having produced content tied to movies as diverse as the sci-fi blockbuster The Maze Runner, the fantasy family comedy Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and the Reese Witherspoon-starring independent film Wild.

Read more…


SuperData: January 2015 Top 10 Digital Console Sales

It’s common knowledge in the gaming industry that digital downloads of games are rapidly becoming an important factor in console game sales, with EA and other publishers noting that full game downloads on consoles are now upwards of 15 percent of total sales. Still, there’s been a lack of data regarding those sales — usually all we see are some vague numbers during an earnings report, nothing like the detailed sales reports at retail that NPD has been providing for years. Nothing, that is, until today.

SuperData, the leading provider of market intelligence on playable media and digital games, today announced earnings for the top 10 digital games on current and last generation consoles. The company has been able to reach agreements to get the data on digital downloads, which is of great importance as traditional publishers continue the transition from retail to digital sales. SuperData announced that the worldwide market for games downloaded on consoles reached $263 million in January, up 14 percent from the same month a year earlier.

SuperData noted that, with total worldwide earnings of $49 billion, the digital games market now constitutes the majority of revenues in interactive entertainment. “As consumer spending continues to shift away from retail, the landscape of top performing games is shifting with it. Despite its traditional reliance on retail distribution and marketing, the data shows that releasing titles digitally on consoles provides a valuable long-tail for existing franchises and smaller, innovative titles,” according to SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen. Looking at the list, van Dreunen pointed to the big surprises in January as Dying Light (Warner Bros.) and Resident Evil HD Remaster (CAPCOM) with $12 million and $11 million in total digital sales across consoles, respectively.

SuperData, of course, will provide a more detailed report for those willing to pay for the data. In addition to a monthly overview of top earners, the paid-for version of the report also provides a further breakout, including full game downloads and additional content revenue on a title-level basis, across platforms and geographies. Subscribers already received this month’s figures.

“What allows us to publish this list today is that we’ve reached critical mass with our data collection. With the help of our client network and data providers, the data necessary to release a reliable monthly overview of key performers on digital console is now available. We’ve been providing our customers with similar information on free-to-play, mobile and PC for years, but being able to now do the same for digital console is a historic moment. There’s been a vacuum in leadership when it comes to a clear picture of the digital market. We’re committed to moving digital console forward,” said van Dreunen.

This information is important not only to publishers, but developers as well, who are trying to decided where development efforts should be focused. Now there’s some data from digital sales on consoles that can be compared to the numbers coming from mobile platforms, and that’s great news for those trying to decide where to place development bets.

Key findings for the month of January include:

  • The worldwide digital console market reached $263 million in sales, led by Grand Theft Auto: V ($32 million) and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare ($23 million).
  • Top 10 titles generated $133 million in sales, approximately 51 percent of worldwide sales.
  • Despite only being released on the PS4 and Xbox One, Warner Bros. Dying Light earned $12 million in digital console sales.
  • The PlayStation console family (PS3 and PS4) claimed 63 percent of digital console sales.

Why Gamers Flock To eSports Events

Since 2006, Eventbrite has processed over 200 million tickets and registrations worldwide, totaling more than $3 billion in gross ticket sales. The company has watched as eSports live events sell out sports arenas and soccer stadiums around the globe. They reached out to 1,500 gamers who have attended eSports live events around the globe ticketed on Eventbrite from 2013-2014 and used that data for a new report, “The eSports Effect: Gamers and the Influence of Live Events.” Christine Bohle, head of consumer partnerships at Eventbrite, breaks down the new report and explains why gamers are flocking to live eSports events in this exclusive interview.

What are some comparisons to traditional sports that you’ve found with eSports fans through this survey

Regardless of the sport, people enjoy watching players they admire. The things that attract fans to eSports are the same things that attract fans to traditional sports — the excitement, seeing the best of the best in action, and feeling that sense of community and passion. This came through in our findings; 54 percent of eSports fans we surveyed said they also watch traditional sports and 15 percent of those watch traditional sports 10 or more hours a week. One survey respondent even said, “For the same reason someone would attend an NFL game, I love watching the game played at the highest level.”

How is livestreaming impacting people going to events live (when it’s in their country)?

Gamers enjoy participating in the live event atmosphere and 66 percent say that attending an eSports event in person gives them another way to experience games that they are looking for, with many commenting that the big sights, sounds, screens, and stage are all compelling reasons to see it live. What that says is that livestreaming simply can’t replace the unique community experience and excitement of being at an event in-person and in fact fuels even more demand for more events in the future. Gamers who otherwise can’t attend have the opportunity to track what’s happening in real-time and get a taste for what it’s like to be at the actual event. As result, their enthusiasm grows and when they see incredible plays being made by the teams participating and the audience reaction, it makes them want to be part of the action even more. One survey respondent said, “I love watching online, but being there is more exciting.” Another commented, “It’s my ‘Vegas.'”

Christine Bohle

What did you learn about eSports fans when it comes to spending money at or around eSports events?

We found that attending these events live inspires people to purchase more game-related content and gear both at and following the tournament or competition. The study showed that after attending an eSports event 47 percent of attendees purchase new content related to a game; 38 percent buy products or services from a brand used or showcased at the event; 25 percent also said they buy new gear they saw at the event or being used by one of the players to “up” their playing experience.

What are the opportunities for brands and sponsors already involved in eSports?

Fans attend eSports events seeking access to exclusive “you had to be there” experiences and a new level of engagement with their favorite games and players. Anything brands and sponsors can do to offer fans an exclusive experience — special merchandise, access to pros, training sessions, interactive activities, additional competitions, cosplay — will provide attendees with a more memorable, lasting impression with their products and services.

What would you say to brands and companies not active in eSports yet?

ESports provide a unique opportunity for brands and companies to engage with gamers and get more immersed in the community — especially at live events. That can be incredibly compelling and our research certainly points to the fact that this audience pays attention to the companies that get involved. The key is to find ways to integrate in an authentic way and that overall further enhances the fan experience.

Also related is the question around game developers and publishers who have yet to jump into eSports and host their own events. Understandably, there are concerns about the cost of producing an event and whether they will see the ROI. What our data suggests is there are ways to defray costs by bringing in sponsors, and that that investment can pay off for those partnering brands and companies. The report also revealed that 74 percent of gamers who attend an eSports event play the game more frequently afterward, and that one of the reasons why (30 percent selected) is because gamers bought new content related to that game. Now that’s powerful. Ultimately what it comes down to is that eSports events can offer developers and publishers not yet involved a great way to increase fan engagement, build camaraderie around their games and drive up purchasing behavior.

Given that this survey was done before soccer stadiums became the new norm, what impact do you feel these larger venues will play in attracting eSports fans?

This study was done in January 2015. We’ve seen large venues like soccer stadiums fill with eSports fans, but our study also uncovered the desire for more small, local events and LAN parties (local gamer meetups and competitions). In fact, 54 percent of people who attend eSports competitions also attend LAN parties and 40 percent of respondents said they would like to see more live events offered outside major cities. So, while eSports events with giant screens, professional gamers, and cameos by celebrities continues to grow, there is still a great demand for smaller, local events as well.

What opportunities are there for US cities that have yet to host an eSports event?

It was clear from our study that people want more events, more often, and are willing to travel to attend them. Nearly half of eSports attendees (48 percent) are willing to travel to another state or province and opportunity exists for smaller cities as well; 40 percent of respondents said they’d like to see more live events outside major cities. With comic and anime conventions, also popular among eSports fans, we often see new events cropping up within a hundred miles or in adjacent cities to major con event locations, and are seeing tremendous success. Since people are willing to travel, and there is a demand for more events overall, we believe there is tons of room for smaller cities and towns to host an eSports competition locally and get a good following.

Leagues currently tend to stick with the same cities, what did you learn about fans and travel preferences?

Again, the demand for eSports events is high, and people are willing to travel to attend. Thirty-nine percent said they are willing to travel to another country or continent to attend a live eSports events, and nearly half (48 percent) are willing to travel to another state or province. Additionally, 40 percent of respondents said they would like to see events outside of major cities, so there is value in exploring new locations for existing eSports events as well as for new events.

How important is access to pros at these events for fans?

More than half (52 percent) of all respondents said meeting pro players was a reason they attend. Additionally, of the feedback attendees had for eSports event organizers, 35 percent said they want ticketed access to pro-player teams meet and greets. While not everyone attends to make a direct connection with players, seeing the pros play live is a major draw of eSports events.

What opportunities do you see for mini-festivals and multi-game events for major eSports outings?

While the focus of our study was to understand why gamers attend eSports events specifically, we did ask participants what other gaming events they go to and how often. Thirty percent said they attend three or more events in a given year and 10 percent attend five or more. When asked what types of gaming events they like to attend, 48 percent of gamers said they attend festivals. Seventy-two percent also said they attend fan conventions where often there are multiple games being played or showcased at one time. This crossover in consumer interests presents a great opportunity for other types of events to continue to evolve.

YouTube Relaxed On Enforcement Of Branded Content

Last week, YouTube didn’t exactly do video producers any favors when it put new rules in place when it comes to brand-sponsored videos. However, the popular video channel isn’t exactly going on a witch hunt when it comes to seeking offenders of said rules.

Digiday is reporting that while the rules of YouTube’s policy are certainly in place (which bans creators already monetizing their content through YouTube ads from inserting graphic title cards with their sponsors or product logos), they’re not actively seeking out those that are violating these rules – at least, for the time being.

The source who leaked the decision stated, “YouTube is not policing this policy yet unless they receive a complaint about the video, (though) that may change. But basically, using a brand logo as part of a paid placement or paid integration is a no-no unless the brand buys 100 percent share of voice on the video.”

So, until enforcement becomes wider, video overlays with sponsor logos can continue to be used in videos. However, such clips could be taken down once it does eventually kick in. Not to mention that competitors could easily place a complaint that would force YouTube to act.

For the time being, the company had no official comment on the enforcement plan, only that the rules were still in place.

The source also noted that users could still utilize brand-related hashtags in their videos, and those who weren’t being paid by sponsors could still use brand logos in their videos.

“If I were a creator, I would probably err on the side of caution,” said Paul Verna, a senior analyst for eMarketer. “There’s a lot they can still do and play by the rules…the lines have been shifted a little bit but not completely redrawn.”

One of the agents who has several clients on YouTube stated that they haven’t seen any issues with the distribution of branded content, although this could be subject to change.

So, with the policy in place, there’s still question – but it doesn’t look like the company’s charging out with pitchfork in hand. “A rule is only as good as how much it’s being enforced,” explained Verna. “But then again, it could pivot at any point. That’s the risk that all these creators take when they choose to participate in this ecosystem. Ultimate, it’s someone else’s platform, and the platform can do whatever it wants.”