GDC’s State of the Industry Sees Increased Support for VR and ESports

Results from the fourth annual Games Developers Conference (GDC) State of the Industry Survey have been released, showing the top trends of the video game industry based on feedback from over 2,000 developers. Some of the biggest takeaways include how virtual reality development has more than doubled to 16 percent, compared to 7 percent of studios working on VR projects last year. Alongside that figure is an ever growing emphasis on eSports, with nearly 90 percent of respondents believing that eSports is a sustainable long-term business.

Simon CarlessSimon Carless, Executive Vice President of The Game Developers Conference (taking place March 14-18 in San Francisco), talks to [a]listdaily in-depth about the survey findings and how this year’s conference will heavily feature VR and eSports themes.

As it turns out, even with the rising popularity of VR, PC and mobile game development remains dominant, but both are showing slightly lower numbers compared to the previous year. Furthermore, development for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One rose by one percent, while projects for Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS saw a drop of one percent.

Although VR development is still at its infancy, enthusiasm for the technology remains relatively high. Carless notes that, “We asked developers if VR/AR is a sustainable business, and exactly 75 percent said yes, while 25 percent of people said no.”

When asked whether or not they believe these devices would exceed the (roughly) 40 percent adoption rate of game consoles, “27 percent of respondents said they didn’t believe VR/AR hardware would ever surpass that level of adoption.” One percent believed that it could happen by 2018, while 44 percent expected it to happen by 2026, and 54 percent didn’t think VR would surpass consoles until at least 2030.

“I think developers expect that VR will be a gradually growing market, partly because the first generation VR devices – at least the higher end ones — are going to be quite expensive,” Carless explains. “But that’s something that games development is used to. If you look back at some of the early consoles, I think some of them were as expensive as $600. So, it’s certainly not abnormal for early game hardware to be expensive.”

Hardware adoption will be the chief challenge for developers looking to make virtual reality games, and it could be a long uphill climb. According to the survey, “38 percent of respondents predicted that VR/AR hardware would be in 10 percent of U.S. households by 2020. 86 percent figure it’ll happen by 2030, and roughly 9 percent figure it will never happen.” It should be noted that the survey was taken before the Oculus Rift’s price announcement, so while some views may have changed with the news, Carless explains that many of the questions were geared for the long term.

Currently, it looks like the Oculus Rift is the most favored device among developers, with 20 percent of respondents stating that they anticipating they will develop their next VR game for it. In comparison, only 9 percent said the PlayStation VR. “Part of that is because the Rift is much more open and available dev kit,” said Carless. “So, just because developers think they’re going to make more games for Oculus VR, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the most popular device.” He also notes that, “Things like PlayStation VR may be helpful, because there are already a lot of core gamers who are interested in VR.”

Oculus GamesWhen asked which VR/AR devices interested developers most, the survey results broke down as follows:

  • 40 percent said they were interested in Oculus Rift
  • 25.9 percent said the HTC Vive
  • 25.6 percent were interested in the PlayStation VR
  • 25.3 percent responded HoloLens
  • 15 percent showed interest in the Samsung Gear VR

Another major focus at GDC will be on eSports. Carless explains that eSports are a big deal at the conference, even though it may be a difficult goal for many developers to reach, since it requires quite a bit of investment and infrastructure. “Only 15 percent of developers surveyed said that they’re working on a game they consider to be an eSport.” At the same time, “88 percent of respondents said that eSports is a long-term sustainable business,” an 8 percent increase from the 79 percent of respondents who affirmed the same position last year.

The survey findings conclude with mobile game development numbers that indicate that support between the leading mobile platforms is closer than ever, with 55.1 percent of respondents developing games for Android, and 56.3 percent for iOS. While the competition is close, they represent a drop from the 2015 survey, which showed a Android and iOS support at 59.1 percent and 56.3 percent respectively, indicating that some may have dropped out of mobile development in the past year.

How ‘Winning Putt’ Scores With Golfers and Gamers

Golf fans were given a treat when Winning Putt, a free-to-play online golfing game where players can personalize characters to compete with each other, recently entered into Open Beta. Winning Putt combines sports elements with those of massively-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) for an experience unlike any other.

[a]listdaily talks to Ed Chang, Namco Bandai’s Global Brand Director of Digital Games, to find out more about how Winning Putt stands out and gets an ace.

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Tell us about Winning Putt and how it stands out from other golf games.

Winning Putt is a unique combination of two things: 1) A solidly detailed and enjoyable golf game with all the nuances and rules of real golf. 2) Gameplay features from proven genres such as action games, RPGs, and MMOs which allows players to go beyond mere golf  — such as instanced speed runs with 20 simultaneous players, enchanting clubs for greater stats, golf gear with stats. More to be revealed in the near future.

We believe this combination offers something to both gamers who are looking for that extra something in all games they play, and the golfer who is looking for the familiar, but who will be pleasantly surprised and engaged with all of new additions to golf in Winning Putt.

In what ways can friends play and compete with each other online?

Currently the game allows up to foursomes in normal play. 1v1 matches are also possible. The instanced speed runs will allow up to 20 players to play through a course, much like instanced dungeons in MMOs, and win based on score & speed.

How does the character leveling system work, and how deep are the customization options?

Leveling is fairly standard in that you gain experience by playing the game, and in every stroke in a round of golf. In addition, you can accelerate your progression with items from the store.

As for customization, there are many levels to this:

  • First, your character can be deeply customized in the character creator where you can create a stunning beauty or the opposite.
  • Second, there are many items of clothing you can earn and buy that give your golfer a unique look.
  • Third, golf identity is based on gear, and here is where Winning Putt really shines. There are thousands of clubs to discover in the game as well as other types of gear that give you skill or stats such as rings, shoes, visors, glasses as well as clothing. Even if your character and clothing are generic looking, the identity from your performance on the golf course will make you stand out.=

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What can players expect to get out of the Open Beta?

Winning Putt at this point is a highly polished product. We’re making tweaks to players as we get feedback but they can expect a game that has been customized to the Western marketplace as well as a stable product. We’re listening to feedback from all our players as well s trying out new things in the game so be prepared for an experience that will change over time. We feel this is the best long term way to keep the players happy.

Give us feedback, though… that’s what this phase is for!

Is there any chance that Winning Putt will have VR support someday?

We can see the growing popularity of VR very plainly. We love this technology as well. At this point in time the development team is busy with all of the existing tweaks that we are proposing. If the community feels strongly about it then there’s no reason we wouldn’t do this.

What would you say is the best reason to play Winning Putt?

Winning Putt breaks new ground with the combination of solid golf and reality bending gameplay features. Other games are great but none have this combination. Gamers and golfers alike all have something they will love in this game: the gameplay features from non-golf genres, the ability to play golf at any time alone or with friends and the stupendous graphics made possible by CryEngine. There’s definitely something for everybody, and what players don’t expect from their golfing experience will make them play even more.

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This is the sixth game that the Bandai Namco Free-to-Play division has launched. What can we expect from you guys in the future?

Free-to-Play is like is something that is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. A very large segment of video games has gone to, or plans to embrace, a F2P business in some form or another. As this segment grows, so do our plans.

Also, the business model in many ways allows development teams to more freely explore other types of gameplay and also to mix and match them. A golf game with RPG elements would probably seem risky with a more traditional pay to play model since it’s untried. But in F2P we can experiment with those configurations until they work. That’s the freedom to both players and publishers. And that’s just the beginning…

We see that Console also has a substantial F2P presence as well. While we’re focused on PC currently the business model has gained major traction on consoles and we follow the business model.

Lastly, Bandai Namco has a substantial portfolio of IP that has major popularity in both East and West. The combination of this IP and the expanding F2P business model has already happened. Expect it to continue into the future.

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Bots Could Wreak Havoc On Companies This Year

Even though ad bots don’t look like they do too much damage when they appear on a user’s screen, they could very well become a nightmare to companies this year.

While “basic bots,” as they’re called, don’t pose much of a threat, more sophisticated ones are, according to Marketing Land. Per a joint report conducted by White Ops and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), these ad fraud from these bots could lead to a big loss for companies and marketers, to the tune of $7.2 billion. The report shows that participants that took part in the study ended up losing around $10 million apiece.

As you can see from the map below, bots are pretty well scattered across the United States, with a majority on the East Coast. Most of them seeming to go after higher-value impressions, including video.

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One example of this points out a 39 percent increase in “bot fraud” when CPM’s manage to generate around the $10 range, and indicates that “bots are successfully fooling viewability measures” by matching up with human behavior patterns.

These bots have a number of effective methods, including exploiting the cookies in users’ systems to act as humans with detection and prevention systems and spoofing viewability, getting by list-based prevention technologies with programmatic buys.

That said, the numbers behind bots are certainly alarming, as broken down below:

  • Programmatic display ads had 14 percent more bots than the general average.
  • Programmatic video ads had 73 percent more bots than the general average.
  • Direct video ads, which could be measured, were 59 percent less likely to have bots than the general average.
  • Direct display ads were 14 percent less likely to have bots than the general average.

Bots seem to come the most from residential computers, followed by corporate IP addresses, per what the ANA found out. Bot traffic comes in the strongest in residential areas by leaps and bounds above other categories.

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With that, the report has come up with ways for companies to progressively battle these bots, including utilizing technology that works hand-in-hand with anti-fraud policies and guidelines. Regardless, some companies should be prepare for the massive damage they could do over the next few months.

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Instagram Growth Could Struggle In 2016

Instagram has come a long way over the past couple of years, amassing over 400 million users, and doing quite well on the advertising front. However, Locowise reports that there could be struggle going into the year ahead.

The report indicates that growth on the Facebook-owned photo/video site has shown a decrease in growth by 88 percent, while engagement has also dropped by 61 percent. As shown chart is below, the numbers have been in a relatively steady decline over the past few months.

locowise instagram chart“If you want to achieve a great growth on Instagram, you do need to consider alternative tactics,” the report explains. “Organic growth will not get you far.” It also makes note that influencer outreach is very much worth considering, especially now that advertising is open across the board on the site. Artists like Skrillex, Diplo and others have used Instagram to increase fan engagement.

Not all the news was negative. The report also notes that Instagram still has a notable lead over Facebook and Twitter when it comes to follower growth, showing an increase of .23 percent. It’s small, but still positive and above Twitter’s .09 percent and Facebook’s .14 percent for the month of December. Locowise also noted that engagement rate for Instagram was higher, with 1.08 percent from total followers, compared to .1 percent for Twitter and .37 percent for Facebook.

As far as what users like to look at the most on the site, images continue to dominate over video. Over 91 percent of posts on the site for December were made up of images, and got response from users, with 1.1 percent engagement from all followers. That’s higher than the 0.83 percent from those that watch videos.

Locowise noted that Instagram is looking to expand its Spotlight Compilations section in an effort to increase both engagement and growth, while increasing its video exposure with more creative efforts.

It may also look into a more social option on the site, as 97.4 percent of all the engagements on Instagram merely consist of “likes,” rather than given commentary.

The report also noted a side article that discusses what brands do differently on Instagram to be effective, such as Mercedes’ provocative car campaign, Microsoft’s focus on Xbox imagery and H&M’s focus on products instead of models.

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There’s certainly a lot to consider here, but if companies can take the right steps needed to engage the audience, then they can find something that works on Instagram.

John Smedley Details His New Studio Pixelmage Games

Former Sony Online Entertainment and Daybreak Games president John Smedley has emerged from stealth mode with his latest game studio, Pixelmage Games. Smedley has assembled a team of 14 developers, including Bill Trost, lead designer and co-creator of the EverQuest franchise.

The studio, which was established last October, is set in San Diego just down the street from Daybreak Games. Smedley, who serves as CEO of the new company, has raised $1 million from private investors and is using Kickstarter to generate another $800,000 to complete the first game.

The action role-playing game, Hero’s Song, will launch this October. The open world rogue-like fantasy game is being developed with a 2D pixel art style, hence the name of the company. It’s the first title in what Smedley hopes will be many games from his studio. He talks about returning to the games industry in this exclusive interview.


What were your goals in opening this new studio?

I’ve been in the games business for 26 years and spent a lot of time at Sony Online Entertainment and more recently Daybreak Games. I’ve been yearning to run my own company again, and make the kinds of games I want to make without worrying about a big corporation or others.

Are there companies you looked at for inspiration?

We’re an indie studio. We idolize Pixar. We want to work on one game at a time and be crazy about it, and then move on to another game. We don’t want to do five games at once. We want to focus all of our attention on creating Hero’s Song.

How would you summarize Hero’s Song?

Pixelmage is dedicated to making insanely deep games with a multiplayer component. Hero’s Song is Dwarf Fortress meets Ultima Online meets Terraria meets Diablo. We build this procedurally generated world starting with this pantheon of gods. We worked with Patrick Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times No.1 best-selling author of The Name of the Wind, on the back story. As you log into the game and create the world – you decide which gods will inhabit it, so the world is different each time you play. We simulate the entire population genealogically all the way up to the year the game takes place. You’re living in a world where deep history matters. You can live in a world where dwarves have been killed by elves, for example. And which gods are chosen impacts the environments of the world. It really feels like a living breathing world.

Can you explain what the multiplayer component is for this game?

We let people host their own MMO. You can have thousands of players, but only a couple hundred at any given time can play. This is a first in the industry. It’s the big game changer. We’re moving towards a world where people will want to build their own communities and run them themselves. They can control all the rules and customize the experience.

What’s the business model for this game?

It’s “buy to play.” $20 gets you the basic game and $50 gets you the deluxe edition. There’s no difference in gameplay, but the deluxe edition includes a strategy guide and the entire soundtrack.

Why did you decide to leave the free to play space that your previous companies had adopted?

I’m tired of micro-transactions. I simply want to have a different relationship with the players.

How will you continue the crowd development process that SOE and Daybreak have embraced?

You’ll see an open development process with me talking to fans. We’ll be doing live Twitch development with CohhCarnage. He has a big Twitch following, but the main reason I went with him is because we worked with him on H1Z1 and his audience is exactly the audience who I think will like our game.

Why did you decide to use Kickstarter instead of just raising the entire $1.8 million?

We want to build a community of support for this game and for this company. Reaching out to the community is how we want to run things. We think the Kickstarter is going to be very successful. It keeps us in control of our own destiny.

How will you be using the additional $800,000?

We’re not trying to make a AAA game. We want to make a new indie game. We won’t need additional people, but the money will help fund the people we already have and also help us get additional art.

What type of crossover do you see Hero’s Song will having with fans of SOE and Daybreak?

The kind of game we’re making is a deep old school game that has a big crossover with fans of Daybreak and many other companies. People who have played the games I’ve made before will like this game. And I think multiplayer will be a big gamechanger.

Why did you decide to go this route with the online gameplay?

The content race that MMO games face is an unsustainable business model if your players can’t create their own content. Because of the web infrastructure we built around ourselves, if you play World of Warcraft there are already guides out there that detail where everything is. There’s no mystery. With Hero’s Song we wanted to create a world where we reforge it and it’s different every time. Choosing the different gods creates different landscapes and different civilizations, which all creates a ton of replay.

How will you be marketing this game?

We’re an indie developer. We’ll start small and build a core audience and communicate with them and build through Twitch. We’ll have some traditional marketing channels, but want to focus on the community.

How will the game expand and the studio continue forward?

It is a traditional retail game, but we’ll do expansion packs if there’s a want for that. We’ll add additional content over the next year. Meanwhile, we would be developing our second game in conjunction. We’d have a small group of designers working on content for the first game. We’re not trying to do two games at once time.

Will this be a PC-only game?

We’ll lead with PC, but we do plan on bringing Hero’s Song to consoles and mobile later on.

Kicking Off 2016 With the Hottest Video Game Campaigns

The fall holidays usually get most of the marketing attention, but spring is a time for the video games excitement to heat up again. Here are some of the top games to start off 2016 and help players shake off some of the winter chill with the heat of challenge and competition.


Originally expected as a fall holiday release, XCOM 2 is the highly anticipated follow-up to the hit strategy game from 2012. In it, players are in charge of an elite organization tasked with defending Earth from an alien invasion.

The game’s announcement was preceded with an air of mystery, using a teaser site that extolled the accomplishments of a medical gene therapy company called The Advent Administration, which promised to “..create a world free from hunger, pain, sickness, and war. We believe in a global community of happy and comfortable citizens.” However, the website showed glitches, which later turned into a full “hack” by XCOM to reveal the truth about the alien agenda and the fight to save humanity.


XCOM 2‘s reveal was followed by a series of interviews discussing the game’s new features. It was also one of the main attractions of the first Firaxicon, a fan convention held in Baltimore, Maryland last September celebrating Firaxis games like Civilization. 2K Games has been steadily revealing the new units and gameplay features as we draw closer to the February 5th release date. A tie-in novel, XCOM 2: Resurrection, was published in November, and the digital deluxe edition, which includes bonus content and an art book, was revealed in December.

Far Cry Primal

Far Cry Primal‘s mysterious promotion seemingly came out of nowhere, starting with a 24-hour livestream of a cave painting that gradually zoomed out to reveal more creatures and figures. That video reportedly drew in 11,000 viewers despite a leak that gave away the game’s title.

The game will take players back to the Stone Age, where they must battle for survival. However, they will be able to tame animal companions, like a Saber-Toothed Tiger, to fight alongside them. Fans also got a good look at how everyday items stand up to the incredible crushing power of a wooly mammoth.

Ubisoft also revealed a steelbook deluxe edition of Far Cry Primal that includes a map of the prehistoric land and the official soundtrack.


Like true professional, Hitman’s announcement took audiences by surprise during Sony E3 2015 presentation with a teaser trailer featuring the main character (Agent 47) running through the snow, while scenes of potential missions flashed. It was soon followed by a second video that demonstrated the game’s huge open world and the incredible variety of choices players will have at their disposal to end the lives of others.

Square Enix revealed last week that the new Hitman game would be an episodic series, featuring a selection of exotic locations for players to explore. The first chapters will release in March, preceded by a beta period in February.

Uncharted 4: Thief’s End

Not counting the remastered collection, Uncharted 4 will be the first game in the series to be developed specifically for the PlayStation 4 console, and is said to be the final installment. The game was first announced in 2013 with a short teaser trailer during a PlayStation event livestream.

Since then, there has been strategically timed trailers at major events like E3 revealing the graphics, scope and other details like the 2016 release, creating more excitement and hype each time — especially the lengthy E3 2015 gameplay video.

Last fall, Sony released a special Uncharted PlayStation 4 bundle that includes the console, theUncharted Collection (which remasters all three of the previous games), and access to the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta, all to get fans ready for the April launch of the finale.


Gearbox first announced Battleborn in the July 2014, fresh from the success of Borderlands 2 and the release of the Handsome Collection, which brings together both Borderlands 2 andBorderlands: The Pre-Sequel for next generation consoles.

Set to release in May, Battleborn will be a competitive shooter featuring unique characters that use both ranged and melee attacks. Although the game will feature a story-based campaign, there is much excitement around its competitive aspects, and how it will measure up against other shooters. That was soon put to rest with a large infographic that illustrates the immense scope Battleborn will have to offer.

Quirky characters have been revealed at a steady pace, including the mech driving penguin, Toby, which was first shown at last December’s PlayStation Experience. The developers also ran an international #IAMBATTLEBORN contest, where fans were encouraged to dress up as characters and submit short videos of themselves doing an original taunt. The winner got their taunt put into the game. Of course, the potential downside is that the winner will likely be taunted by their own taunt.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Continues to Grow Baseball Through Technology

Almost one year to the day Commissioner Rob Manfred took office as the leader of baseball, he celebrated another technological breakthrough when he brought baseball to the Chinese market earlier this month.

The advancement was another feather in the cap for the sport and their long line of tech-savvy innovations. The 57-year-old Manfred made embracing technology and youth outreach one of his top-five priorities when he replaced Bud Selig as the tenth commissioner of baseball last January. Another tall task is to be a torch-bearer for the next generation of fans.

“I think it’s crucial for the future of the game for the sport to cater to the millennial demographic,” Manfred told [a]listdaily in an interview. “Baseball has always been generational. Appropriate use of technology is important to making sure the game gets passed on to the next generation.”

Manfred continued baseball’s decades-long expansion overseas by announcing a three-year strategic partnership between MLB and Le Sports this month to live stream 125 games a season in China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The first mass-market MLB media agreement in China adds another layer to a lasting global foundation Manfred is building. The marketing move should be a big boon for China as they make millions of dollars, and new fans. It’ll also help the country develop a future pool of pros, and perhaps push a flurry of Asian-born players stateside much like Japan and South Korea have done since the mid-90s. It’s already gotten off to a promising start. Last year the Baltimore Orioles signed 19-year-old Xu “Itchy” Guiyuan, making him the first player from one of MLB’s China Development Centers to sign a pro contract.


Manfred, a Harvard Law School graduate, knows that globalizing the game will help unearth the next great talent from borders outside the United States. Adopting to technology – a concept the sport has notoriously been criticized for not fully embracing – only puts that process on the fast track.

MLB Advanced Media, the league’s digital company, is no stranger to success in the tech arena – they even have rights to NHL’s digital platforms. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, MLB.TV enjoyed a 20-to-25 percent growth in the number of subscribers for its Internet and mobile services, bringing the total to about 3.5 million, per the L.A. Times. Another way baseball is trying to appeal to its stats-starved, fantasy-playing youth is through sabermetrics. MLB made media waves last season with the debut of Statcast, a state-of-the-art advanced metrics tracking technology. The “At Bat” app is also must-have for any fan.

“Baseball is a game of history and tradition. Things like the Hall of Fame are important milestones in our annual calendar. We never want to lose track of what has been accomplished by great players,” Manfred continued. “On the other hand, we have a great generation of young players like Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper, to name just a couple. It’s really important for us to focus on those young players and technology as we try and appeal to younger fans.”

Manfred’s mission remains to grow the game both on an international and domestic level. In November, he announced a three-year agreement with FOX that will allow fans in the U.S. to watch live in-market streaming on any mobile device in 2016. The deal covers only the 15 markets in which FOX is the regional sports network.

“We’re working with the other distributors and expect to have agreements to allow in-market streaming with those distributors as well,” Manfred said.

The commissioner didn’t comment on a recent court filing that contests some of MLB’s broadcasting practices under antitrust law, but according to the nine-page document, it appears that MLB will be following in the footsteps of the NBA and NHL by offering a single-team streaming option for 2016.

MLB became the first sports league to offer live-streamed games in 2003.

By Opening Day, fans will be enjoying more tech firsts.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.

How ESports Viewers Have Doubled in Growth

We’ve discussed just how big eSports is becoming, including its coverage into mainstream television. However, for those looking into specifics to how much it’s watched by U.S. audiences, a new study indicates just how popular it is.

The report, conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, shows that about 70 percent of Americans between the ages of eight to 64 play video games, and out of that group, 18 percent have watched some form of eSports programming in one form of another, either by viewing online or attending a devoted event. That’s double the number reported from a couple of years back, when only 9 percent took part in an eSports event.

It’s not just pointing to a specific genre either, as events featuring games like League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have each gotten their own level of attention, between fierce competition and the offering of big prize money – sometimes in the range of seven digits.

“I have watched eSports gamers grow from unknown kids with no money to their names, to a big business with paid teams and leagues, record-breaking stream numbers, seven-figure sponsorships, million-dollar prize winnings and global media exposure,” said Stan Press, managing director for Magid. “The eSports industry is primed to grow at an incredible pace over the next few years.”

The chart below shows a much more specific breakdown of eSports viewership, with the higher numbers coming from male gamers, although a strong amount of females tune in as well. What’s surprising about these numbers is how many older viewers tune in, with the 35-to-64 age group showing over 50 percent with both total mention and viewership.

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For that matter, this secondary chart also points out which video platforms are being used to watch eSports activities – and Twitch makes up a good amount of those, with 38 percent of viewers tuning in to some sort of competition on a daily basis.

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As far as what games players prefer to watch in action, EA Sports’ FIFA soccer games topped the list by 51 percent, followed by Call of Duty at 43 percent, and League of Legends andSuper Smash Bros at 41 percent each.

ESports is definitely going a long way in 2016. Even ESPN, a channel that once considered it to be not of interest, recently introduced a new division devoted to the online competitions, which could easily spread over into its TV programming in the months ahead – just as it did withHeroes of the Dorm last year.

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NPD Report: December 2015 Strong Month for Hardware

The NPD Group has revealed its December 2015 sales numbers for the video game market, and while not all the statistics provided by the group are gangbusters, they indicate that sales of both hardware and software are still going strong. The report is broken down into bullet points below:

  • The combined cumulative sales of both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 managed to eclipse the previous generation of consoles (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) by 47 percent. Both systems had a strong holiday season, increasing gradually from 38 percent in October to 47 percent for both November and December.
  • That said, there was a small decline with hardware sales, showing a four percent decrease in both console and portable systems. However, this current generation of consoles grew by two percent over the previous year.
  • Overall, December 2015 proved to be the best month yet for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One unit sales, with a strong year overall. The Wii U also contributed to make it the strongest selling month for hardware, beating November’s previous record.
  • Although physical software sales dipped  by two percent overall, console software showed an increase by two percent, and current gen-software for Xbox One/PlayStation 4 showed an increase by 52 percent, with a total net increase of $73 million in sales overall.
  • Despite the dip, physical software sold well across the board for all three platforms (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U) throughout the year, with some notable December launches showing an increase of 111 percent in sales for the month, including Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege and Just Cause 3. Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III also showed notable growth over the previous year’s Advanced Warfare entry.
  • Other games that did well through the holiday season included Star Wars: Battlefront(likely due to the success of The Force Awakens), Grand Theft Auto V (which continued to sell well despite releasing a year prior) and Fallout 4, which became the second-highest selling title for Bethesda, behind the previous console generation’s role-playing hit The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • Accessory sales saw an increase over the year, growing 12 percent with new releases for point cards, interactive toys, headsets and game controllers. Interactive toy-based games, like Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders: Superchargers, saw an overall increase of 13 percent over the previous year, while controllers and other gamepad-type accessories showed 44 percent growth over 2014’s sales. Headsets saw the biggest increase of all, growing by 77 percent, thanks to models released by Turtle Beach and other manufacturers.

Overall, it was a slightly up and down year for video game sales and accessories, but numbers remain steady enough to indicate that they’re still loved by players of all ages. 2016 isn’t likely to slow down, with many releases set to come out over the next few months.

The top ten selling video games for 2015 are as follows:

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Activision Blizzard)
  2. Madden NFL 16 (EA Sports)
  3. Fallout 4 (Bethesda)
  4. Star Wars: Battlefront (Electronic Arts0
  5. Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games)
  6. NBA 2K16 (2K Sports)
  7. Minecraft (Microsoft)
  8. Mortal Kombat X (WB Interactive)
  9. FIFA 16 (EA Sports)
  10. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision)

How Teevox Was Resurrected For New Age Of ESports

Jong-Moon Kim, founder of Teevox, has resurrected his technology for Twitch. The programmer initially developed Teevox in 2011 to watch multiple eSports livecasts on Twitch, something that wasn’t available anywhere else. But that was still early days of the livestreaming explosion, and now Kim has brought a new version of Teevox to Twitch. He explains what this opens up for pro gamers and eSports in this exclusive interview.

What’s your eSports background?

I’ve been an avid gamer since my dad brought home a NES system when I was four. To my dad’s dismay, this escalated to a great deal of Starcraft playing during my high school years as any self-respecting full-blooded Korean gamer can attest to. When I discovered people were playing Starcraft professionally, it was an incredible moment—the thrill of watching someone using blinding dexterity to accomplish impossible feats had me hooked for life.

 Why did you initially launch Teevox in 2011?

2011 was the year of Starcraft streaming. It was the Woodstock of eSports. A perfect brew of talent, audience and technology came together to make the industry explode. At that time, I had been working on a video transcoding startup (where Teevox got its namesake) and after long hours of coding, I would relax by pulling up Starcraft streams. What I loved aboutStarcraft streams was the fact that you still got the thrill without the draining mental workout.

The problem was there would be huge Starcraft tournaments running simultaneously. At the time, the largest tournaments were IPL (IGN Pro League) and NASL (North American Starcraft League). I remember juggling four different tabs and manually muting and unmuting streams until I realized this was rather stupid.

The project started off as a side curiosity, seeing if there was a way to control streams programmatically. Once I realized that was possible, I spent a month polishing the product into something usable. I decided to name the site after a Starcraft unit called the Warp Prism. I thought it was appropriate considering it was a unit that would teleport useful units to the frontline of battle.

It became an instant hit, reaching the front page of Reddit. That was the start of this strange journey. Through the months I released updates. I changed the name to Teevox to help adapt it across other games as well. An Android app was released to wide acclaim and I developed a novel remote control for your phone to control Teevox on your computer.

What differentiates this new product from anything else out there?

In a word, it’s fast. Unlike sites belonging to eSports organizations or other gaming destinations, it just has one focus — deliver what you want to watch in the shortest amount of time possible.

The uniqueness stems from the novel technology that was developed to carry out that mission. Teevox was a pioneer in techniques of stream preloading and variable bitrate control to provide a seamless experience.

Now on the surface, the product seems as simple as ever. I remember it was nearly every day someone on Reddit would write, “Isn’t this just embedding with copying and pasting?” And then someone would always jump in, “Just try it man.”

Teevox went to great lengths to hide the complexity underneath, presenting a simple, intuitive product.

What type of user base did you have back then? 

At its peak, Teevox had 700,000 monthly users. Teevox grew substantially during the summer months as Starcraft tournaments were lined up back to back.

Why did you decide to shutter the product in 2012?

After strong growth through 2011 and the beginning of 2012, the product started faltering. I had tried to launch other product lines and created partnerships to increase viewership, but it was coming up short. It had gone through seven months of stagnation and I wasn’t sure how to make it grow further. It was very demoralizing to see your graph start trending downwards.

The scene had become very crowded since Teevox’s first release. A number of other organizations had launched Teevox-like products under their own brands and we were all competing for a fraction of the tiny viewership back then.

After hemorrhaging money for an extended period of time, I felt the future looked bleak for Teevox to ever become something self-sustainable. I still regret having let go of the product and letting down its fans.

Why did you decide to relaunch this year? 

After attempting two dozen different startup ideas since then, none of which worked out, I was about to close up shop and start looking for gainful employment. I started shuttering the corporate accounts. When I opened up Teevox’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, years worth of old messages poured out from fans missing Teevox. These messages were from 2013 through 2015.

How many products do you really remember after it’s gone away for three years? That made me realize the product was something really special. The fans didn’t just like the product, but loved it in a way I didn’t realize before.

That gave me the energy to do a final push before giving up on startups entirely. I’ve spent the past few months polishing the new Teevox to be something worthy to be called its successor. I’ll have to admit, my development skills had improved dramatically over the past three years. The 2016 Teevox is sleeker, faster, and more powerful than I could’ve imagined possible in 2012.

What’s changed in terms of business opportunities for Teevox today? 

The eSports world today is vastly different from the 2011 world. Back then, we were lucky to hit 15 million viewers each month across the industry. Today, that number is over 200 million. Just this past year Twitch recorded 1.5 million streamers. If you can imagine having 1.5 million channels to watch on TV, that’s not a challenge for the feint-hearted.

I remember being annoyed in 2011 with having to deal with a single tournament and one other streamer. Today, it’s not uncommon to see five or six simultaneous tournaments happening across the world on a weekend with a few dozen streamers you’d like to tune into.

The problem has magnified into something intolerable, pushing the upper limits of viewer content overload. I believe this is a crucial issue for the industry as it will look for solutions to bolster its meteoric growth. Teevox aims to be the technological partner in blunting this pain, allowing eSports organizations and players to focus on what they do best: capturing exhilarating moments you can’t get anywhere else.

One of the most dramatic shifts is the fact that Twitch is no longer the tiny upstart. After its $1 billion acquisition by Amazon, it heralded a new era, becoming the bedrock platform for new businesses to be built on top.

As a foundational pillar of eSports, Twitch is rapidly becoming the new Hollywood. Teevox aims to be the Samsung to Twitch’s Hollywood, providing viewing technology to further enhance the inimitable content from Twitch.

It’s not every day you get a brand new multi-billion dollar industry with pristine opportunities for the picking.


What’s your business model? 

The Teevox viewing engine will be licensed out to tournaments, eSports organizations, and individual streamers, bringing the incredible experience you get at to their personal and corporate domains. I believe this model fits very well with Teevox’s core competency and novel technologies that were developed in-house.

How big an audience do you see for this product today with the rise of live streaming? 

With eSports having a global audience of 200 million, Teevox has a lot of headspace to grow if it can make its mark as a powerful viewing platform. One advantage in this industry is the fact that the platform is globalized from Day 1. Surprisingly, gaming is one of the most uniting forces across national lines. A Starcraft game has no language other than the action happening on the screen. This has led to tournaments being able to be spread widely across the world, giving a massive store of entertainment as a (mixed) blessing. The industry as a whole is going through a growth spurt, making this a key window to make things happen.

Do you work directly with Twitch in any way? 

They had tried to hire me back in 2012. I admit, that would’ve been the smart decision. I remain friends with them, and it also helps that we are both Y Combinator companies. We are not collaborating on Teevox in a formal capacity.

Will this app work with other live streaming services like Azubu or YouTube?

The current focus is to build out the complete product on top of a single platform. Twitch happens to be the most established and with our ties going way back to 2011, I believe it made the most sense to start with them. Once the core has been established, I’ll take stock of what the community would like as next steps. If there is great demand, Azubu and YouTube can be integrated.

Are you working with any established eSports leagues, and if not what opportunities do you see there?

For eSports organizations, I believe investment in viewing technologies constitute some of their most highly leveraged dollars. I see event organizers spending inordinate amounts of effort creating a beautiful physical stage and in-person experiences. But online, they use a copy-pasted embed that’s unremarkable, replaceable, and forgettable. With the bulk of their audience coming remotely, I believe improving the online branded experience can do wonders for their events.

What does this app open up for advertisers or sponsors?

For Teevox-licensed players, organizations can develop a powerful solution that presents their content in a compelling way, as well as ensuring their sponsors deliver their message.

For the player for fans, I don’t foresee having outside advertisers. There may be in-house opportunities to help streamers increase viewership, but that would be a hypothetical way down the line.

How will Teevox be marketing this relaunch?

The challenge will be to let the original Teevox fans know that it’s coming back. Three years is a long time, as most communities dissipate after a while. Efforts will be made to reconnect with them through Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook.