E3 2016: ‘FIFA 17’ Highlights The Personalities That Drive The Sport

FIFA first debuted in 1993, and it has since grown to become the most popular sports game on the planet. Peter Moore takes the stage again from London to present an all-new side of the soccer franchise by introducing a person named Alex Hunter. Hunter, a man in a black tracksuit, then takes to the stage to recount his time growing up, playing football with his friends, and imagining himself growing to become a professional who pulls off stunning moves for thousands of cheering fans. This served as the introduction to The Journey, the first character-driven story mode to be featured in a FIFA game.

Players will take the role of Hunter as he works his way up the ranks to become a star player, enduring all the trials and setbacks that might entail. The introduction to the campaign mode concludes with the character stating, “My name is Alex Hunter. You don’t know me, but you soon will.”

Moore then took to the stage again to talk about how FIFA 17 will go deeper into the world of soccer than ever before, driven by the personalities of the sport. Perhaps no one has more personality than the premier league managers, who will be included for the first time in FIFA.

Four legendary managers will appear in FIFA 17:

  • Josep “Pep” Guardiola
  • Arsène Wenger at Arsenal
  • Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool
  • José Mourinho of Manchester United

Moore originally stated that there would be three managers, until José Mourinho joined him on the live stage, causing him to correct his “mistake” to four. However, Mourinho still claimed to be upset that only a handful of managers would be in the game when there are twenty of them in real life. The two bantered on stage for a bit; then Mourinho left so that Aaron McHardy, producer for FIFA 17, could come up to present new gameplay features, including improved movement and artificial intelligence.

‘Madden NFL 17’ Tackling ESports

Madden NFL 17 was presented by EA COO, Peter Moore, live from London, and he proclaimed that the newest addition will have the same passion, intensity and competition fans have come to expect from the football game franchise. Examples include new ways to play and an improved franchise mode.

However, the biggest announcements involved how EA would be focusing on eSports with Madden. Although only a select few people become pro gamers, EA wants to make stars out of all its players. It’s doing this with online competitive modes and weekly contests. Furthermore, the Madden franchise will be characterized by three types of events:

  • Challenger lets the gamer community host its own tournaments.
  • Premiere events are large scale tournaments hosted by EA both within and outside of the gaming world.
  • EA Majors are marquee events run by EA on a global stage, with the best players competing for the biggest prizes.

The first EA Major starts this weekend at EA Play, featuring the Madden NFL 16 championship. EA’s presentation switched to spotlight two top professional Madden players, Eric “Problem” Wright and Zack “Serious Moe” Lane, both of whom will be competing in the finals this weekend. The Madden NFL 16 championship started with a million players, and is now down the eight best players battling going for $50,000.

The coming year will features similar events, as the Madden NFL 17 championship series will feature a $1 million prize pool. Moore promised “a full year of high stakes action that spans four EA Majors and more events to be announced soon.”

4 Game Announcements That Show PlayStation VR’s Wonderfully Weird Side

This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) could be the most important one yet for Sony, given how its PlayStation VR headset is due to launch this October. As one of the most prominent VR headset to launch this year, next to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (which launched in March and April, respectively), Sony needs content that will set its hardware apart from the competition.

It did that by announcing a long list of exciting exclusives last year, which include Robinson: The Journey, Rez Infinite, Battlezone and the explosive combat suit arena game, RIGS Mechanized Combat League. Many, if not all these games will be shown at E3, but virtual reality gaming promises to take players to new, fantastic and sometimes impossible places. Although action games may get much of the attention, games like 100ft Robot Golf will help define the PlayStation VR as an entertainment device that caters to a wide variety of tastes, including the humorous and strange.

These PlayStation VR games were announced over the past week, and they’re so unique and surreal that they can’t help making an impression.

Harmonix Music VR

We’ve come to expect unique, music-themed, games from Rock Band 4 and Beat Sports developer, Harmonix. So even though the announcement for Harmonix Music VR seemed to come from out of nowhere, it didn’t take long for fans to get into the groove.

The game promises to immerse players into music like never before. Players will be able to choreograph dance moves for a cast of characters and even take to the DJ booth. Featuring music composed by Harmonix’s own M-Cue for games such as Amplitude and A City Sleeps, players will be able to produce 3D art or just hang out on an alien beach. Players can further personalize the experience by importing songs from their personal music collection to play in VR.


Announced this week and described as a “virtual reality game about technology, perception and puzzles,” we really can’t tell you all that much about Statik. The trailer certainly leaves an impression, as the viewer sees through the eyes of a (possibly unwilling) test participant who awakens to the voice of someone describing a dream of being a dog astride a giant chicken. The test subject’s hands are bound in a strange device, which is used to answer when asked how the story makes him feel. Visiting the official Statik Institute of Retention website reveals a vague history of the fictional research company, along with updates such as, “We will be reconfiguring the survey algorithm over the weekend. During this time, the potential for unexpected consequences will alter.”

Those who are curious and adventurous can take a Volunteer Readiness Test on the website, which presents statements, images and sounds for participants to react to by choosing one of three text-art faces (happy, indifferent and sad) to denote how each makes them feel. Answers are tallied with inaccurate results, and the Statik Institute will deem you as “the perfect test subject” no matter what.

How We Soar

How We Soar is the debut title from new developer Penny Black Studios, which was founded with the goal of taking players to places they’ve never seen before or thought possible using the power of VR. The surreal flight experience puts players behind the reins of a giant Phoenix to explore a papercraft world and transform the surroundings by flying in close and painting in color. Doing so reveals a hidden story, created in the memories and mind of the mysterious “Author.” The reveal trailer reached almost 100,000 views within its first day, and it will be interesting to see what new worlds await players.


Tethered is perhaps one of the most charming PlayStation VR games to be announced this week. It puts players into the role of a Spirit Guardian, charged with protecting a race of creatures called Peeps. Assigning tasks to Peeps will help them prosper and prepare for the creatures (that look like giant slugs with lion faces and stone heads) that come to attack them at night. As a quirky mix of strategic building game and tower defense, Tethered may appeal to PlayStation VR gamers who are searching for god game with a cute creature twist.

Snapchat Hits The Music Festival Scene

Music festivals are quite a draw for audiences during the summer season, and they seem to be an ideal opportunity for brands to step in for sponsorship, so that’s exactly what Snapchat is doing.

The popular social app has announced that it has signed a multi-year deal with AEG, a company that’s behind some of the biggest music festivals in the  world. As a result, it will create exclusive content during these events what will engage with its robust community.

Snapchat has already confirmed its presence at a number of events taking place this summer, including the FYF Fest, the Hangout Music Festival, Panorama, the Stagecoach Country Music Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Through these festivals, Snapchat is reaching out to fans across a variety of music genres.

The app will engage users, encouraging them to share photos and videos that showcase what the music events are about, along with the experience of “being there,” whether it’s with a must-see live performance or simply having a good time with friends. Snapchat’s curators will play a part in putting together the “best of” clips from each of these events, turning it around to share with the community as a whole. The goal is to compile them in the Live Stories section of the app, where millions of users can see what’s happening and get excited for future music events.

The deal is beneficial to both the music festival producers and Snapchat alike. Not only does it generate interest in the events themselves, but also engages the app’s audience. Producers benefit from the exposure of said events, using the extra revenue to book more worthwhile acts and keep fans coming back for more. Other brands are also benefitting, as Snapchat confirmed that it sold out of advertising spots before they were even announced as being available.

Considering that a number of brands are already attached, and the deal could bring in a tremendous amount of attention and profitability for all parties involved.

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Brisk Iced Tea Details Twitch Virtual Reality E3 Activation With N3RDFUSION

Brisk Iced Tea, a division of PepsiCo, is doubling down in the video game market. Following its on-going partnership with eSports team Optic Gaming to promote its Brisk Mate drink, the beverage company is heading to E3 with Twitch and video game influencers N3RDFUSION.

On Tuesday, June 14, at the Twitch E3 stage at 5:15pm PST—and on the Twitch homepage—a costumed Beta Bull character from Brisk Strawberry Melon will battle N3RDFUSION in Ubisoft’s Eagle Flight game on Oculus Rift.

Mandy Mazzeo, brand manager at Brisk Iced Tea, explains to [a]listdaily what livestreaming, virtual reality, and E3 open up for the brand in this exclusive interview.

Where did this idea come from?

The partnership between Twitch and the Brisk brand started as a media content partnership. We explored how to bring our Beta Bull character to life in collaboration with Twitch.

Can you talk about this latest gaming activation?

Brisk Mate partnered with OpTic Gaming earlier this year, so this event continues to enhance the Brisk brand’s relationship with the gaming world. Strawberry Melon’s Beta Bull was created to be a video game fanatic, as his character resembles members of the gaming community. His character has played every game you’ve ever heard of, invented dozens of his own accord, and he is able to traverse gaming genres—saving princesses, beating the unbeatable, and climbing leaderboards around the globe.

What type of audience does Twitch open up outside of eSports?

We know a lot of our consumers are part of this eSports community, but this is another angle, or another way into that community, and a way to remain relevant. Twitch is a huge platform for gaming, bringing our campaign idea with a giant Beta Bull to E3 and partnering with a great group of influencers N3RDFUSION.


N3RDFUSION is made up of four quirky influencers that create engaging content as a team. In addition to being life-long streamers, they’re passionate about gaming and are well-known and respected in the gaming community for their insights, expertise and charismatic personalities. N3RDFUSION’s audience is composed of mainstream gamers that enjoy many titles and genres. Fans watch them for entertainment and news, although they are valued for their behind-the-scenes access to the latest in gaming as well as their varied skills across gaming platforms. Similar to Brisk Iced Tea’s fans, N3RDFUSION encourages their fans to follow their passions, just as they pursue theirs.

What were some of the lessons learned from the OpTic Gaming partnership?

Optic Gaming’s audience are die-hard gamers. We know their fan base, and the reach they have is incredible. The interaction that these guys have directly with their fans is amazing, and the synergies of living their lives and being true to who they are and following passions is authentic. They do more than just gaming. The fact is, with OpTic as influencers, our Brisk fan base has taken on that same mentality. When the opportunity arose to be part of Twitch and this livestream, we wanted to be part of this because we were driving great engagement from our OpTic partnership.

Why did you choose N3RDFUSION from all of the influencers out there?

Knowing these guys have a following and have the same mantra and attitude as our consumers, it was a perfect fit. The Brisk brand is all about the pursuit of passion, being true to who you are, and blazing your own trail. OpTic really defined the realm of not just eSports gamers; they’re a lifestyle brand in and of themselves. And the streams that N3RDFUSION does; they do things in a non-conventional way. All of these guys are out there following their passions and doing what they love.

Who is the Brisk consumer?

Our demo is the 18-24-year-old male. Gaming is one of their passion points. They’re making their own music, playing street ball, creating digital art, or skateboarding. Gaming makes up a component of a lot of things that make up our consumer.

Can you detail the E3 activation?

We’re a media content partner with Twitch. Beta Bull from our Strawberry Melon flavor takes the character off the package and brings it to life through a series of videos live now on Twitch. We’ve built up the character by first introducing him and then showing him training for something. He’s an awesome gamer; the best of the best. Beta Bull challenged N3RDFUSION and they’ve accepted. The program will culminate at E3 on Tuesday June 14, where Twitch is doing a homepage takeover and streaming the challenge live during a 30-minute block.

What does being part of E3 open up to your brand?

What excited us about this program was bringing something new to E3 and for the Brisk brand to be part of the first time this VR game, Eagle Flight, is being streamed live on stage. What we love about this VR game is that it’s multiplayer, and it’s unique to have multiplayer in a VR game. Our consumer is very much focused on their passions, and sharing those passions with friends. This is the first time Twitch is streaming a VR experience. It’s a unique look at what a multiplayer VR experience can look like with Oculus Rift.

Will people be able to watch this in VR?

Twitch is currently available via Oculus Video on Samsung VR. Users will be able to watch Twitch’s live E3 stream in a 360-degree environment.

How can people who don’t tune in live watch this competition?

The video content will live on VOD on Twitch’s channel, Twitch.tv/Twitch, after the event.

What has the reception been like so far, with OpTic Gaming and now this?

So far, we’re feeling really good about the moves we’ve made in the gaming space. The reception from our fans has been good.

Is this the beginning of more Twitch gaming activations?

We’re looking forward to this activation and there’s potential for more.

NASCAR Drivers Are At The Wheel Of Mountain Dew’s VR Game

NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott are helping Mountain Dew and its caffeine-craving fans drive the soda company’s latest campaign in DEWcision 2016 through a game in virtual reality.

The choose-your-own adventure VR gaming experience puts Mountain Dew’s fans at the wheel of immersion and asks them to choose which of their favorite flavors—Mtn Dew Baja Blast or Mtn Dew Pitch Black—will earn a place on retail shelves after the summer.

“In the past, Mtn Dew Baja Blast and Mtn Dew Pitch Black have only been available as limited-time offerings, and when they go off the shelves, Dew Nation has been very vocal, asking for us to bring them back,” Stinson Parks, Mountain Dew’s digital marketing manager, told [a]listdaily. “With DEWcision 2016, Dew is putting the power in the hands of our fans and giving them a chance to make their voices heard, with a vote that only they can make happen.”


The experience, available on Samsung Gear VR and through YouTube 360, is running parallel to the presidential election, making it a timely one for the soda brand. Mountain Dew also partnered with Shazam to launch their VR player and facilitate the music identification app’s first-ever VR content so that fans can scan a bottle of Baja Blast or Pitch Black Dew with their phone to unlock short-form Dew VR content.

This is the second straight year Dew has tapped Earnhardt Jr. for a VR video. In 2015, the two-time Daytona 500 winner brought viewers to the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

“I think VR is the future of video games,” Earnhardt Jr. said, per USA Today. “It puts the fans in a VR environment. We’re right in there with them. They’ll be able to be on the race track with us. It’s going to be a lot of fun . . . It’s a different experience.”

Parks joined [a]listdaily to discuss Mountain Dew’s strategy in immersive experiences.

How does using VR and other immersive experiences best position Mountain Dew’s marketing efforts?

Mountain Dew has always been a cultural instigator, pushing the limits of what’s possible and embracing creativity whether that’s virtual reality, emerging social media campaigns, a new sport in drone racing, or progressing action sports through Dew Tour. It’s in our DNA to push the boundaries of what’s next and emerging technology has been a rewarding space to explore. As a company, we’re always exploring, seeking out, and even creating the next trend or diving into the newest technology. As marketers, we take risks to see great rewards.

How did NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott react to a simulated driving experience?

For this VR experience, Dew used motion capture technology to recreate a more realistic experience so that users feel like they’re really in the car with Dale, Kasey and Chase while wearing a virtual reality headset. This experience blurs the line between video games and marketing, all in VR. Dale and Chase were able to try out the VR experience first-hand at JR Motorsports Fan Day in Moorseville, North Carolina. Dale and Chase had a blast and couldn’t believe how realistic their likenesses were. They got a huge kick out of riding next to their virtual selves.


Mountain Dew also used VR earlier this year at the 2016 NBA All-Star Game through the “Court Vision” installation. How is Mountain Dew leveraging new technologies?

The brand actually first started testing virtual reality content in early 2014 and since has produced three live action VR experiences that immerse fans in what they love most: Dew and action sports. This includes Dew VR Skate, Dew VR Snow and Dew VR Bristol—with the central theme focusing on access to adventures and experiences that might not otherwise be possible without future-forward technology. The DEWcision VR experience is the first time Dew is using VR as a content channel as part of a larger, integrated 360-degree campaign.

Brands are jumping on the VR and 360-video train daily. What is Mountain Dew’s strategy in this space? And how will you measure overall success?

Mountain Dew is excited to continue to delve into VR as an opportunity. We have plenty of other verticals within sports and lifestyle, and several other key partners and Dew talent that we can tap into and explore to bring more VR opportunities to life in the future. The possibilities are endless—Dew fans love sports, music, gaming, technology—and we’re excited to create more.

We know this field will continue to grow and Dew will continue to keep an eye on VR as our technology and software partners continue to evolve and launch new and exciting platforms for us to use to bring VR to Dew Nation.

We’ve seen great results with Dew VR and continue to find ways to scale the content for those outside of events, and for those without VR headsets. The experiences have debuted at top events such as Dew Tour, the U.S. Open of Snowboarding, and the Bristol Motor Speedway night race, giving thousands of fans onsite at each event the opportunity to experience Dew VR. Beyond on-site events, Dew VR experiences are showcased on every Samsung Gear VR headset on display at Best Buy. When Dew VR Snow launched, the content was trending on the Samsung Milk VR app as the most popular action sports VR experience. And, we were one of the first brands to upload VR content to Facebook 360.


We believe that we’ll continue to see more and more consumers engaging with virtual reality and the introduction of new equipment and opportunities that will make the immersive experiences accessible for the masses. We continue to see the technology evolve, and will measure our success based on how well we can engage our target consumers.

For DEWcision specifically, we tied the VR experience directly back to the key metrics of driving awareness for the overall campaign and ultimately votes for your favorite flavor, which is what the campaign is all about.

How is Mountain Dew using social media, content and other storytelling tools to engage in new ways with consumers?

Being a digital instigator on new platforms is something we always try to do and is very much a part of who we are as a brand. When using new features and jumping on technologies, we want to experiment and introduce new things to our fan group in a memorable, engaging way. We also want to tell our brand stories on the platforms and spaces where our consumers are. As that evolves ever more rapidly, so will we.

Mountain Dew was one of the first brands to activate on Periscope, Twitter Autoplay, the Instagram portrait-landscape format, create breakthrough content on Snapchat during this year’s Super Bowl, and was one of the first brands to use the Snapchat Lenses feature.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan


ESL Details First-Ever ‘Street Fighter V Brooklyn Beatdown’ Tournament

ESL is expanding its commitment to the fighting game genre beyond Mortal Kombat X. The eSports company is hosting an open $75,000 Street Fighter V tournament called “The Brooklyn Beatdown” as part of its ESL One New York Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. This marks the second competition to be showcased from October 1-2, 2016 in New York as part of the ESL One tournament series, with the possibility of expanding one of the East Coast’s largest eSports events.

Home to one of the largest fighting game communities in North America, the state of New York and its surrounding areas present a perfect fit for what will be ESL’s first major fighting game tournament. The Brooklyn Beatdown will be an open bracket tournament with space for 1,024 players. A series of online tournaments will be hosted in the lead-up to The Brooklyn Beatdown on ESL Play, with prizes that include flight and hotel support for the main event to ensure that competitors from all over the world are able to attend.

Registration for The Brooklyn Beatdown at ESL One NY is now open on Eventbrite with a $10 registration fee. Gamers will still need to purchase a spectator pass for the event to enter the venue. Tickets to are available through TicketMaster and start at $39 for a standard weekend ticket.

Stuart Ewen, product manager at ESL, explains why the Capcom fighter could pack some serious punch in the eSports ecosystem in this exclusive interview.

Street Fighter V

Why did you decide to pair Street Fighter V with CS:GO in New York?

The decision to include SFV at our Brooklyn event wasn’t due to the game titles that would appear there. We actually made that decision before we confirmed which big eSports title ESL One would host. For me, the motivation was based on the community. I’ve been in love with the fighting game community for a number of years now, and while the community in New York is one of the biggest in the US, it also suffers from a bit of a vacuum in terms of major events being hosted there. I’m thrilled to be able to help change that and I’m excited to see how it takes shape.

How much crossover do you see between the two games with ESL fans?

With ESL fans in particular, I don’t think there is much overlap. We’ve only recently started doing fighting game events with the MKX Pro League, so for those who do follow the scene, this is a great chance for them to expand their horizons and experience CS:GO live. There are, however, a lot of people from fighting game communities who watch “traditional” eSports events and I believe this event is a chance to bridge that gap; we get to expose CS:GO fans to SFV and vice versa.

What has Street Fighter V, which was designed for eSports, opened up for the level of competitive play?

Street Fighter V has changed things a bit in terms of user experience. The new distribution model for the game’s updates and the new mechanics in the game mean that it will be a lot easier and more interesting for casual players or players of other fighting games to make a transition to playing Street Fighter V competitively. Another big contributor is a combination of a fresh Street Fighter title with the proven success of the Capcom Pro Tour model. There are events all over the world that give people an opportunity to compete at the highest level against international opponents, and that accessibility to competition is what’s made SFV as big as it is today. I can’t wait to contribute to that competitive landscape and give some up-and-comers a chance to strut their stuff on a big stage.

What do you feel separates Street Fighter V from other fighting games out there?

Street Fighter V’s success is a result of the infrastructure that has been built around it. The game itself isn’t a massive departure from previous versions of the game, but Capcom’s support with the Capcom Pro Tour has done a lot to increase the prestige, prizes, and excitement around the game and its top players. Other fighting games are incredibly popular on their own, but most lack the structure and continuity that regular tournaments and a unified ranking system can bring to the table.

Can you give us a sense of how popular Street Fighter V is in eSports today?

Compared to previous iterations, tournament registration numbers have done nothing but go up this year—viewership and exposure have also increased a great deal in and outside of the endemic coverage outlets. Mainstream celebrities are taking part in a lot of fighting game tournaments this year of their own accord, and as a result, the entire scene has been gaining some much-needed exposure to a bigger audience.

What have you learned from working with Capcom in the past that will be applied to this open tournament?

This tournament is new ground for ESL. We’ve worked with Capcom in the past on other titles, but nothing on this scale. Capcom has been very supportive so far, providing feedback and advice, and I’ve been supplementing that with learnings I’ve taken from personalities and organizations who are very active in the fighting game community. I’m always looking for constructive criticism and ways we can improve our event and make it the best it can be.

What will it take for the average gamer who thinks he’s good at Street Fighter V to compete in this tournament?

A controller and some motivation: anyone who wants to can enter the tournament and compete (as long as there are tickets left). The thing I love the most about fighting game events is that even if you’re a new player, there’s always someone there who can give you some tips to improve your game, even if you’re in the middle of competing. I’ve found myself in situations where I’m struggling against an opponent, and they’ve given me tips on how to beat them. Even if you think you’ll go 0-2 in pools, it’s a great learning experience that shouldn’t be missed.

What role do you see open style tournaments playing for ESL in helping to further grow the eSports audience?

Open style tournaments give attendees of an event a chance to be involved in the outcome of the tournament. Whether you beat someone in pool play, or get eliminated in semi-finals, you’ve had an influence on the flow of the competition and, indirectly, the overall winner. That interaction is one of the reasons people get so excited about open style tournaments. It doesn’t work for every eSports title or every event, but for fighting games it’s a natural fit.

How do you feel this double bill will impact attendance?

CS:GO has proven itself to be a crowd pleaser time and time again, and with the enormous Tri-State fighting game community, I’m very confident that we’re going to set new records in Brooklyn this year for overall attendance at our New York event.

Will this event also have additional kiosks and activities for fans like IEM events?

Yes! We’re currently planning on having casual setups for people who aren’t competing at the time: side activities, contests, and more. There’s going to be much more than just eSports at this event, and I can’t wait to share what’s to come.

Fans Watch Over 800 Million Hours Of ESports On Twitch

ESports is a global phenomenon that continues to grow in popularity, and Newzoo is providing a better idea of what that growth looks like.

A new report, with data compiled using the company’s Streaming Platform Tracker, indicates that fans have watched a total of 803.7 million hours of league and tournament-related events on Twitch channels over the past ten months, ending May 2016. ESports content in general has accounted for 14 to 31 percent of total hours watched on Twitch, with event organizers getting the most viewability with 71.3 percent to total eSports hours watched. This includes bigger partners, such as Riot (the publishers of League of Legends) and the ESL.

Of all the months covered, October 2015 was the biggest, accounting for 123.9 million hours viewed and 31.2 percent of the total hours watched on Twitch for the month. The League of Legends World Championship played a vital part in this, along with ESL One New York and the MLG World Finals DOTA 2 Tournaments. August was a close second with 110.5 million hours watched, with Valve’s Dota 2 tournament finals, The International 5, and ESL One Cologne (which involves games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) leading the way.

Event organizer channels made up a huge part of the statistics, with 573 million hours of viewership, or approximately 71.3 percent of all watched eSports content on Twitch. The remaining 28.7 percent, consisted of broadcasters showing the events on their own channels.

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If you’re wondering what the most popular eSports franchise is, the research indicates that Riot easily dominated with League of Legends. However, other events made strong contributions, with fans tuning in to games like Counter-Strike, Hearthstone and Call of Duty.

About 3.2 billion hours came from regular consumer streams and pro players, and Newzoo pointed out with a previous report, eSports continue to be a driving factor for the Twitch. The ESL also made note that 1 in 4 hours of eSports content on Twitch was viewed through it, with hosted tournaments. It’s a big player when it comes to hosting events.

Other prominent tournaments scheduled for this year include the Call of Duty Championship, more League of Legends match-ups and Valve’s annual Dota 2 International tournament.

NPD: ‘Uncharted’ And ‘Doom’ Dominate May 2016 Sales

The NPD Group has released sales figures for the month of May 2016, and while Blizzard’s popular multiplayer shooter Overwatch found a secure spot despite its short time on the market, the period belonged to Bethesda’s Doom and Sony’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

Liam Callahan reported that overall sales saw an increase by four percent during the month, tallying $19.3 million, with an 18 percent growth in physical software.

“As we head into E3 2016, it is encouraging to see such a healthy install base of the Xbox One and PS4, which currently have 43 percent higher cumulative unit sales than their predecessors at the same point in their lifecycles,” said Callahan.

Meanwhile, software sales crowned a new king: Sony’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for PlayStation 4. The final go-around for Nathan Drake proved to be the month’s biggest seller, which is a surprise considering how it’s a single platform exclusive. “Uncharted 4 also marked the best first month of sales for any game in the Uncharted series after Uncharted 3, which is remarkable given the fact that it launched during the holiday period (in November 2011),” said Callahan.

“The success of Uncharted helped Sony rank as the leading software publisher for May 2016.  Year to date, driven by the success of Tom Clancy’s The Division, Ubisoft is the top-selling software publisher,” he added.

Close behind in second place was Bethesda’s new version of Doom, which was a big hit for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. “Doom (2016) ranked second for May 2016 sales on a unit basis and had the best first month of sales for any game in the franchise when combining sales across platforms—exceeding sales of Doom 3‘s launch on the PC in August 2004,” noted Callahan.

May was also a good month for Blizzard’s heavily hyped Overwatch. Although it sits in third place, it actually sold big numbers in the last week of the month. “Overwatch was the third best-selling game for May with only a few days on the market,” said Callahan. “When comparing Overwatch sales for days in the market, this title doubled the sales of Doom.”

Callahan also noted that video game point and subscription card sales rose by eight percent, and May 2016 was the best month to date for them. Accessories also did well, with headsets and headphones increasing sales by 18 percent, totaling more than $3.3 million dollars over the previous year.

Several other favorite games rounded out the top ten, including Battleborn, Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft, NBA 2K16, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, MLB The Show 16 and Dark Souls III.

Fox Sports Exec Explains How Lexus Is Driving VR Innovation At US Open

For the second consecutive year, Fox Sports is partnering with NextVR to livestream the 116th US Open at the Oakmont Country Club in virtual reality June 16-19. NextVR’s multi-camera broadcast of the tournament includes live four-hole coverage and provides immersive views of the tee boxes and greens at Holes nine, 17 and 18, in addition to roving coverage between neighboring Holes 10 and 12.

But this marks the first time that a brand, Lexus, will be sponsoring the livestreaming experience. Lexus is also an official partner of the US Golf Association (USGA).

“We began with the US Open last year,” Sarah Tourville, Fox Sports senior vice president of sports brand activation, said. “It was unsponsored because we wanted to get a sense of what VR coverage would look like. Moving forward, our goal is to align a sponsor with all of our VR content moving forward.”

The US Open VR experience will feature Lexus as a branded backplate, similar to how Toyota was featured at the Daytona 500 VR experience. “As you look around at the 180-degree view and it’s always in the back view,” Tourville said. “The backplate offers permanent branding during the entire live event. We’ll do branded Lexus call-outs to the content as well.”

The broadcast also includes a video-on-demand lineup featuring a narrated behind-the-scenes look at the history of Oakmont Country Club, as well as live look-ins at Oakmont’s driving range. Fox Sports is also producing two-minute-long golf tips from Fox pros on the both short game and the long game and putting—and Fox Sports analysts will detail each hole.

Fox Sports analysts will provide a description of the hole and then users will be able to experience the hole from several locations. Ultimately, the VR experience will allow fans to explore each of the featured holes as they like. Tourville also explained that the video-on-demand content has the potential to live on YouTube 360 and Facebook 360 as well, although that hasn’t been solidified yet and the USGA needs to approve it.

“Lexus is a USGA official partner, which allows us to be more innovative with them as we explore VR,” Tourville further notes. “In addition, Lexus—as a brand—has done other VR tests with partners, so they’re familiar with this technology.”

The US Open virtual reality broadcast will be available free through the NextVR portal. Samsung Gear VR owners can download the NextVR app to compatible Samsung Galaxy phones.

Outside of the sponsored Lexus content, Fox Sports is working with Joe Buck to cover some VR content. According to Tourville, he’ll do a series of custom VR pieces in a lifestyle venue that will be distributed on social media platforms.

Joe Buck

“Overall, we’re trying to enhance the VR content experience,” Tourville said. “Last year, very few people were talking about VR. Now it’s the shiny object that sales and marketing executives and clients that aren’t in the technology space are asking about, because they want to understand it and participate in it. We’re getting the belief that VR will be a bigger proposition than 4K was ever believed to be.”

Virtual reality is also attracting a younger demographic to golf, although the sport has been helped with the success of players such as Jordan Spieth, Ricky Fowler, and Rory McIlroy of late. “Golf is an older sport and we’re trying to enhance the experience for a younger audience,” Tourville said. The young guns playing and competing in the US Open are taking the sport and revitalizing it. Technology like VR resonates with this newer audience.”

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth

In addition to finding 360-degree content visually appealing, Tourville notes that early adopters and tech savvy people like to share it. “It allows them to feel like they were part of the action,” she explains. “VR personalizes the experience more than a traditional linear broadcast.”

The US Open is the fourth major event Fox Sports has offered in VR in 2016, following the Daytona 500, a Premiere Boxing Champions (PBC) title fight, and the Big East basketball tournament.

At this early stage, measuring success in virtual reality isn’t about how many people who own a headset watched the live event.

“We don’t measure success by the number of downloads or people who went to the Fox Sports channel on NextVR,” Tourville said. “We’re measuring the social conversation and PR buzz associated with this type of innovation. Until we build a broader distribution of headests, it’s not going to be comparable to a traditional media buy of impressions.”

Key questions sponsors need to think about include: Do I feel I’m impacting innovation? Am I providing fans with unparalleled access to the event? “The number one reason advertisers are coming to Fox Sports for VR is because we’ve been in this space for a long time and we’re constantly experimenting,” said Tourville.

Although Fox Sports will continue to work with NextVR as part of its five-year partnership, Tourville stated that the company is undergoing a lot of testing with LiveLike. That company allows fans to congregate inside a virtual suite to watch sports events together in VR.

Tourville further states that Fox Sports will cover 10 to 12 major events in VR across a variety of sports in the coming year, and the sports broadcaster will likely work with multiple VR partners.