The Future Of ESports: Virtual, Cash-Rich And More Diverse

Competitive gaming has taken a long journey from challenging a friend to a showdown to filling some of the largest stadiums in the world. ESports is officially taking the world by storm and is expected to bring up to $1.1 billion of revenue in 2019, according to Newzoo. As we look forward to a new year and gamers hone their skills for the next big match, let’s take a look at the trends and see where this monster industry is headed.

More VR

With the launch of HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR this year, 2017 will see further exploration into streaming events in virtual reality. VR games will also get the eSports treatment, as Oculus has done with The Unspoken

“If eSports players and fans feel like they’re getting something crammed down their collective throat for the sake of novelty, it could de-position VR as nothing more than a fad,” Insomniac Games’ chief brand officer, Ryan Schneider, told [a]listdaily. “That’s why we’re approaching this from a very grassroots level, seeking game feedback from experts and the most passionate players. Certainly though, the potential is there to grow VR adoption because you have a huge base of PC players hungry for fresh, competitive experiences. On the surface, nothing in gaming is hotter at the moment than VR/AR and eSports. Marrying the two is inevitable.”

Currently, eSports enthusiasts can experience competitions in virtual reality thanks to brands like ESL, Valve and “Our vision is to transform the eSports spectator landscape forever,” said Mitch Liu, co-founder and CEO of, “and incorporating augmented live stats into our VR 360 livestreams of CS:GO and LoL is a big step towards this vision.”

Mo’ Mobile, Mo’ Money

Mobile will also become a more serious contender in the competitive arena, as proven by Clash Royale, Mobcrush and Skillz-hosted competitions. Skillz has run more than 100 million mobile eSports tournaments to date and now hosts over 500,000 tournaments every day, awarding over $5 million in cash prizes to players every month, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

ESports prize pools continue to rise year-over-year, and Dota 2 has broken its own record by offering over $20 million during The International this past August. Game publisher, Valve, invites players to sweeten the pot by purchasing a Battle Pass—25 percent of which goes toward The International prize pool.

Guild Wars 2 eSports

Brands Cash In

As eSports gain popularity, more brands will want to be associated with it. That’s a smart strategy, according to analyst firm, Nielsen. Opinions of brands that participate in traditional sports rose 12 percent in Nielsen’s study, while purchase intent rose seven percent and brand loyalty rose eight percent when brands integrated eSports.

Over the next year, more brands will become associated with eSports either through original content and sponsorship. Geico, for example, promoted its eSports team, SoloMid (TSM) with a comedy series on YouTube this past year and brands like Arby’s, Credit Karma and Buffalo Wild Wings all sponsored a new CS:GO tournament called ELeague—paying $2 million each. Twitch has become an official sales representative for eSports teams, Team SoloMid and Cloud9 (C9), connecting them with brands outside of the gaming world and further growing the eSports industry.

It’s not just restaurants and insurance cashing in on the competitive gaming arena, either—professional athletes from throughout the world of traditional sports are not only interested in eSports, but buying and creating teams of their own. Even Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks is confident in this new industry. “There is no reason to try to legitimize eSports to anyone,” Cuban told [a]listdaily. “ESports is a real industry. People can choose whether to connect to it themselves. The participation numbers and the online viewership numbers speak for themselves. What matters is that people who love eSports really get into it. They watch clips and matches. They play the game. There is no need to try to convince those on the outside.”


Increasing Diversity

Although the change may be slow, the coming year may prove to be more diverse—a recent report indicated that more women are involved in competitive gaming than men and while eSports is primarily dominated by males, additional ways to play (i.e. mobile) and emerging female teams may change that. The launch of Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League sends the message that anyone, anywhere can become a champion.

With 75 percent of female gamers playing on mobile over any other platform, the idea of competing is catching on quickly. Koh Kim, co-head of business development at Mobcrush sees the large female audience on mobile opens up new opportunities for female pro eSports.

“We’re seeing a better mix of male and female players in the top ranks, and many more mixed teams,” Kim told [a]listdaily. “That’s a great message for the community. There are more female players and personalities, giving other females the role models they’re looking for. That really puts out the message that any hardworking, talented player will have a platform to succeed and the support of the community.”

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSports on 2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

Michael Fassbender Shares Thoughts On ‘Assassin’s Creed’ Movie And Games

If all goes according to plan, Michael Fassbender will be back for more Assassin’s Creed films. The producer and star of the new movie, which opens on December 21, said he worked with Ubisoft Motion Pictures and the creative team at New Regency to map out a story that spans a trilogy. Of course, the standalone first film, which 20th Century Fox is distributing, needs to succeed at the box office against fierce competition from movies like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Passengers and Sing.

Fassbender stars as Callum Lynch in the film’s present-day story and uses a brand new Animus to explore the Spanish Inquisition as his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha. The film introduces a new protagonist and an original time period to explore, while retaining key elements from the bestselling game franchise. [a]listdaily caught up with Fassbender both on the London Pinewood Studios set of the film and the New York City press junket, where he talked about the Assassin’s Creed game and new film franchise.

Have you ever been a gamer?

A little bit. When I start playing video games, I find myself at 8:30 in the morning still playing.

Which is your favorite game?

I always liked racing games. I would sit there and try and perfect the track or get the fastest I could around the track, trying to get the times down. But since joining this (Assassin’s Creed movie), I’ve started to play the game and it’s amazing to see how things have come on since I was last playing. It’s extraordinary—I mean the detail—and I know what a lot of gamers really are fanatical about is the detail, and the great educational benefits of it, the historical elements of it.

I was talking to a friend of mine who said to his son, who is like 15 or 16, “Let’s go away on a trip together. You can pick wherever you want to go.” His son picked Florence because he played it in the (Assassin’s Creed) game and he wanted to see if all the elements of the city were as they were in the game. So that’s been a real education for me, sitting down playing the game. You can just see a 360-degree view of the city of that time period. It’s pretty exceptional.

What are your thoughts on how far storytelling has come in video games compared to when you were a kid?

It’s a lot more sophisticated in terms of getting a prologue now, which is very advanced graphically, and gives you a proper introduction to the universe you’re going to enter into. Video games didn’t really have that when I was growing up. I’m showing my age, but it was pretty basic stuff. The graphics, of course, have come a long way and the detail and precision of the execution of these worlds—that was something. That really blew me away with Assassin’s Creed.

What do you feel separates this franchise from other games?

What fans find interesting about this is fascinating. What draws them to the game is that thing about going into these different regressions—visiting America during the War of Independence, or more recently The Industrial Revolution in England (Assassin’s Creed Syndicate). I think fans get a big kick out of that in terms of the educational experience more than anything else.

The concept of the Assassin’s Creed film sounds fairly close to the first game. Would you consider this to be part of the same universe?

It’s all part of the same universe. We really want to respect the game and the elements in it, but we also wanted to come up with our own thing. One thing that I’ve learned from doing other franchises like X-Men is that audiences want to be surprised and see new elements of what they already know, and different takes on it. We’re really respecting the very core elements of the game, but then we wanted to bring something new to it as well. That’s why we have these new central characters.

Could you talk a little bit about the redesigned Animus, which is very action-oriented in the new film?

We just didn’t want to have something where I sit in a seat. Number one, we’ve seen it before in The Matrix. Two, it’s just not a very dramatic experience when we’re doing the modern day version of the regression. We wanted to have something where the character is physically involved in it.

They’ve come up with something very interesting. Talking to Ubisoft, they are thinking perhaps of adopting some of these ideas [for future games]. But definitely not having it so much as Cal being a passenger in a chair. We wanted to have something more interactive for that character in the present-day stuff.

3 Mobile Gamer Personalities For Brands To Target

Guest writer, Irene Herranz, InMobi’s head of global developer marketing, identifies three personality traits commonly found in mobile gaming that are open to in-game advertising.

Irene Herranz, InMobi head of global developer marketing
Irene Herranz, InMobi head of global developer marketing

For the longest time, brands neglected gaming apps as an effective medium to reach their qualified audience of choice because it is “too niche.” Advertisers have been conservative in associating their brands with the gaming persona, regarded as a stereotypical teenager geek, utmost lover of sugary soda and greasy chips.

Today, we acknowledge that there are more gamers out there than one would imagine, and a large portion of us are, unknowingly, casual mobile gamers that brands actively seek to be associated with. According to eMarketer, the US mobile gaming user base is growing steadily with 180.4 million mobile phone gamers in 2016. Gaming apps are on the rise and by 2020, it’s estimated that nearly 64 percent of the population will use their mobile devices to play games.

For many years now, smartphone usage has been dominated by gaming apps. It is our default go-to destination whenever we have some free time, such as while commuting, watching television, or while waiting to meet up with friends. The most popular games topping app store downloads share a common pattern of addictive gameplay, triggered by a chain reaction of emotions that pro-monetization publishers tastefully craft to drive engagement and boost revenue.

The more you play, the more you “get in the game.” At the same time, you are sharpening skills and developing distinct personality traits with the ultimate objective of enjoying the gaming experience to the fullest. Overall, there are three key personality traits of mobile gamers that will prove how gamers represent the perfect audience for brands: educated, relaxed and curious. Here are some ways to engage with each personality trait.


Most gamers are found at the inception of the in-app mobile advertising industry. They have an extremely understanding mindset and tolerance towards advertising, and fully acknowledge that the ad economy fuels the freemium gaming industry. They may even feel grateful for a free-to-play (F2P) opportunity, empathizing with the developers behind the games they love. Developers need to make money, and even if consumers do not pay for the app, these players may be perfectly fine with watching an ad every now and then.

Additionally, mobile games offer the perfect app design (where to serve the ad) and flow (when to serve the ad) to seamlessly insert ads in intuitive placements at non-disruptive natural breaks. As a result, gamers already expect an ad after losing a life or completing a level. Some might even look forward to it, as it brings the perfect mini-break to unwind for a few seconds and recharge their batteries for the next game or level. Going one step forward, pro-gamers proactively look for the ad, going straight to the game storefront on the hunt for rewarded video ads to supercharge their game with precious in-app currency.

Pro-monetization gaming publishers capitalize on this education trait to tastefully offer rewarded video through different placements to maximize the number of ads per player, per day. A fantastic combination that makes the most of the natural breaks of the gameplay is the following combination: main screen, storefront and in-between levels or at the end of a game play. For example, Fortafy Games includes the visual and minimalistic approach of Color Switch in the home page. This includes a simple animated button featuring an intuitive video icon that reads: “+30 (extra points awarded).” Subway Surfers by Kiloo goes one step further, adding a dedicated menu section called “Earn Coins,” where users can watch unlimited sponsored videos to get in-app rewards.


A relaxed attitude towards in-game ads is way better than in any other, since users are feeling playful and are in the mood for discovery, making them open and eager to engage with ads. On average, mobile users engage with around seven apps every day and two of those are games. Brand marketers know it’s all about reaching the right audience, at the right moment, with the perfect ad. Entertained mobile gamers that proactively opt-in to watch the brand video embody this combination perfectly. As a brand marketer, I would rather reach my desired audience when they are happily gaming than reading the news covering economic crisis, political debates or the latest health scare. If the world is coming to an end, it will find me having fun, navigating cliffs, zip lines and mines in Temple Run and interacting with a Skittles ad—where I can pet a cloud to get some candy, and most likely getting some for real during my next visit to the grocery store.


Have you ever gotten a feeling of wanderlust whenever you travel and set foot in a new city? The same goes for mobile gamers. Endorphins and dopamine are in full force after tapping the screen 100 times per minute to uncover new war missions, escape from zombie towns or decipher a word challenge. Curious gamers are eager to keep on tapping, which represents the perfect opportunity to offer an opt-in ad. After a short break of watching a 30-second brand video, the exploratory mindset calls again to engage with that good looking companion interstitial in front of them.

Nothing beats the calling of the senses. Brands are increasingly aware of this fact, adding rich media interactive end-cards to their video campaigns that entice gamers to interact with the creative on top of consuming the opt-in video with undivided attention. End-cards packed with options (social media buttons, buy now tickets, reserve a test drive, etc.) that invite the user to engage with the brand, beyond the in-app entry touch-point, are the way to go. One gaming studio that rides this wave is Etermax with Trivia Crack. After completing a play session, the game offers a full screen packed with options, which include watching a video or asking friends to join in the fun via Facebook and earning users a pack of additional game lives in the process.

From left: Trivia Crack, Subway Surfers, Color Switch

Rewarded video in mobile games combine the perfect opt-in video ad experience that masterfully turns a variety of powerful user emotions triggered during gameplay (e.g. frustration, amusement, desire, etc.) into user engagement that brings superior advertising engagement rates.

Gaming publishers carefully choose the perfect reward to incentivize daily gameplay by learning what offers players would consider to keep them coming back for more, and create a powerful habit of frequent check-in. There are two great strategies that can be seen in the game Talking Tom Gold Run by Outfit 7. First, it offers a juicy reward for a limited time to create a sense of urgency. Second, it limits the frequency for the best reward to one a day. Premium currencies and extra lives are a fantastic choice, as well as ‘hard to obtain’ in-game items.

Brands are leveraging this sweet spot to put their message in front of a hyper-engaged audience to reach their campaign goals. From brand awareness and ad recall lifts, to performance marketing measured by completed online purchases, and rewarded video advertising on mobile games, all help brands conquer every stage of the sales funnel.

Moving forward, with the upcoming rise of cross-device analytics that can accurately track user purchasing patterns, the next battlefield will be measurement of online to offline conversions. This is the next frontier and Holy Grail for brands to shift their entire advertising budgets to mobile, for good.

Irene Herranz (@irehoop), InMobi head of global developer marketing, is an electrical engineer turned marketer with a great eye for design, currently heading Global Developer Relations at InMobi in North America.

Irene has more than 10 years of international experience in marketing, product and business development roles at large corporations including Google, BMW, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica. She also has extensive startup experience and is founding partner of, the Rock Solid Code software development studio.

Storm8 Makes 2017 Mobile Gaming Predictions

Mobile gaming has seen more than its fair share of shake-ups and growth this year, possibly leading to an even bigger year in 2017. From the phenomenal success of Pokémon GO to Apple’s new policies regarding subscription models, some major changes are coming ahead. However, the problem with discovery and engagement in an ever-growing sea of apps, where many users delete new apps after about a week, remains a persistent issue.

Storm8, maker of Dream City: Metropolis, has over 50 million monthly active users across its worldwide network and is always on the lookout for gaming trends. These include what times of the year players are most engaged and how adding a sense of competition to casual games can bring them to the next level.

Terence Fung, Storm8’s chief strategy officer, recently spoke with [a]listdaily to talk about what’s ahead in 2017 for mobile gaming.

Terence Fung, Storm8 chief strategy officer
Terence Fung, Storm8 chief strategy officer

How will Apple’s subscription models impact mobile gaming next year?

Since Apple announced a way to facilitate subscription revenue for game developers last summer, a number of developers have already introduced a subscription component (Seriously’s Best Fiends Forever, Ubisoft’s Just Dance, Smule apps, etc.). Subscriptions benefit developers from a revenue standpoint given a higher revenue share with the app stores, potential promotion of customer loyalty and revenue predictability. For 2017, I expect developers to launch games with fresh game mechanics and/or episodic content that’s highly valued by consumers and are much better tailored for subscriptions. By the end of 2017, there will be a new top 50 grossing game that garners more than 50 percent of its revenue from subscriptions.

Do you think mobile game subscriptions will grow to become the norm in 2017?

We should expect most games in 2017 to be built as free-to-download, with in-app purchase remaining the dominant business model. That being said, mobile game subscriptions will free a set of developers to innovate on the content and services that are best suited for that business model (e.g., episodic content, enhanced communications, VIP services, etc.). This will gain traction in 2017 and continue to grow moving forward.

How important will eSports and livestreaming be to the growth and promotion of mobile games in the coming year?

ESports will have a huge presence in 2017. The eSports market is already projected to break $1 billion in revenue in 2017, and television networks like ESPN and Turner Broadcasting have begun to invest heavily in broadcasting competitive video games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike. Popular mobile games like Vainglory and Clash Royale are already hosting successful tournaments with millions tuning in to their live online broadcasts, and the Amazon Appstore recently held a tournament (Amazon Champions of Fire) for casual mobile gamers on Twitch. Even so, we are still in the very early days, given the market fragmentation with game publishers, league owners, broadcasters and influencers all jockeying for longer term market strength.

Mobile game livestreaming is also still in its early days. While gaining popularity, only a handful of leading games today have the elements that are best suited for livestreaming: synchronous PvP (Clash Royale), fast paced multi-player (Critical Ops) and/or a scaled, vibrant community (Minecraft Pocket Edition). But with thousands of games pushing forward on innovation mixed with heavy investments from the likes of Apple and Google, as well as nimble, emerging companies like Mobcrush, expect to see mobile game livestreaming skyrocket in 2017.

How will mobile games overcome the issue of discovery in the app stores? What will mobile games need in order to stand out in the coming year?

The most obvious way mobile games are attempting to stand out and achieve better app store discoverability is by leveraging already recognized brands. In the top grossing charts, there’s no shortage of recognizable brands including Pokémon, Marvel, Star Wars and The Walking Dead.

For 2017, we’ll increasingly see strong IP from the PC/console world launched on mobile. We already saw Nintendo and DeNA partner for Super Mario Run, and Square Enix is working with Machine Zone on a Final Fantasy XV mobile game. I expect at least five mobile games based on PC/console brands to crack the top 30 grossing list before the end of 2017.

Mobile developers will also continue pushing on various marketing channels to attract new audiences, ranging from television to social media channels. Sustained campaigns will be challenging for traditional marketing, so we’ll likely see developers concentrating ad buys in certain channels and at specific times during the year to maximize yields.

Ultimately, for games to truly stand out and sustain, the bottom line is the game must be fresh and fun in the eyes of the consumer. The challenge for developers will be to deliver that experience in a manner that’s truly appropriate for a mobile audience—i.e. easily understandable in the first few minutes, yet holding much deeper gameplay; playable in multiple sessions per day with the potential for much longer session lengths; and a monetization model that doesn’t make players feel guilty or upset for opening their wallets.

What do you think will be the long-lasting impact, if there is any, of the success of Pokémon GO on the mobile game space?

Pokémon GO broke the mold of the perceived “typical mobile gamer behavior” of players solely immersed in their phone screen. The nature of its gameplay inherently encourages real-world social interaction, with folks exploring their neighborhoods, discovering new places and meeting new people.

From an industry standpoint, the game shows how a blockbuster IP that’s beloved across all demographics, and married with innovative social gameplay, can shake up the largely static top 10 app charts.

Will the success be easily replicable? Probably not, given that this IP just worked really well with this particular gameplay. I’m still holding on to hope that at least a Harry Potter version of the game will eventually come to market, but perhaps that’s better suited as a 2018 prediction.

With the recent launch of Google Daydream, do you think we’ll see a major shift toward developing mobile VR games and experiences in 2017?

Mobile VR game development will no doubt become more mainstream as mobile hardware and data speed continues to advance, but 2017 will still be a year of experimentation for mobile VR games and experiences. With only several hundred thousand Daydream units expected to be sold over the holidays and players’ limited daily engagement with accessible solutions like Google Cardboard (which has shipped five million units as of early this year), most mobile developers will continue to be focused on the nearly four billion smartphone subscribers that are likely more inclined to download a free-to-play mobile game than engage in a more immersive VR experience. All that being said, having both mobile game and VR content being developed in Unity will make content crossing-over much easier.

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSports on 2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

Makin’ It Snappy: How Snapchat Attracted Marketers This Year

Snapchat is all grown up. Thanks to some big changes this year, the disappearing photo app has become more lucrative for marketers than ever before.

Feeling the pressure from other networks—especially Instagram Stories—Snapchat has shaken things up this year with new targeted ad offerings, mid-roll ads and a big Stories update offering more control for its users. Setting itself further apart from competitors, the app has even been re-branding itself as a camera company. Now calling itself Snap Inc., the photo-sharing company has been on the lookout for original shows to host on its platform.

Perhaps the most iconic feature of Snapchat, of course, is the lens. Superimposing dog ears or flower garlands over a selfie has become quite the popular pasttime, and gaming brands in particular have found a lot of success with sponsored filters this year. In a kind of “instant cosplay,” users can snap a picture of themselves and the lens does the rest—transforming the person into one of the X-Men like Cyclops, a karaoke-singing zombie or an iconic video game character like Marcus Fenix (Gears of War 4). Despite the hefty price tag, these new ad products have earned their reputation as the preferred method for creating memorable moments with millennials.

Snaps have also gotten a lot more expressive since Snapchat acquired Bitstrips earlier this year. Users can now download the Bitmoji app on either Android or iOS and link the account with their Snapchat profile to share custom emoji with their friends and followers.

Once dedicated only to photo sharing, brands have taken marketing to a whole new level this year with the first 360-degree video ad (Sony: Don’t Breathe) and the first multi-level video game ad (Gatorade: Serena Williams’ Matchpoint). Of course, disappearing messages are perfect for limited-time offers, exclusive deals and teasers for new products. When Toyota says “let’s go places,” that includes music festivals—the car manufacturer was a major presence at this year’s Lollapalooza with an exclusive, pop-up concert accessible only through a Snapchat geo-filter.

Snapchat—unlike its photos—won’t be disappearing any time soon. While advertising on the platform isn’t cheap, the investment has certainly paid off for a number of brands, particularly when it comes to reaching a millennial audience. Of Snapchat’s 200 million users, 45 percent are between the ages of  18 to 24, according to eMarketer, which predicts the social network’s ad revenue will generate nearly a billion dollars in 2017.

Native Ads, This Year’s Top Tech And Other Must-Read Marketing Stats

As the year winds to a close, we take a look at what marketers will budget for in the coming year, what tech consumers are most excited for and which video game came out on top for November.

Luxury For The Ladies

Edmunds’ Luxury Market Report revealed that luxury SUVs outsold luxury cars for the first time in 2016, thanks to the ladies. Fifty-seven percent of women who bought a luxury vehicle in 2016 bought an SUV, compared to 49 percent of men. The report also indicates a rise in female luxury consumers—just over 40 percent of luxury vehicles will be sold to women, compared to 36 percent in 2011.

Marketing Budgets Are All “Ad-ing” Up

In 2016, US advertisers spent $6.18 billion for digital video ads purchased programmatically, up from three billion in 2015, according to a new report by eMarketer. That figure accounts for 60 percent of all digital video ad spending, compared to 39 percent last year. The research provider predicts that by 2018, programmatic digital video advertising will reach $10.65 billion, or 74 percent of total video ad expenditures, not including video advertising on social platforms.

Eighty percent of marketers will increase their focus on digital advertising, content marketing and SEO in 2017, reports Conductor. Seventy percent of marketers will spend more on marketing in 2017, with 67 percent saying they will spend up to 75 percent more. Only 19 percent of respondents said they will spend the same, and five percent plan to spend less. About one-third plan to hire more SEO and content professionals, according to the study.


Meanwhile, influencers are also on the list for increased budgeting, according to a poll conducted by Linqia. Out of 170 marketers surveyed in the US, 48 percent said they will boost their influencer marketing budget in the new year. Just four percent said they plan to decrease investment in this area.

Artificial intelligence (AI) marketing may be the wave of the future, but there’s a significant learning curve for those implementing the new technology. A recent study by Demandbase found that while 80 percent of all marketing executives believe AI will revolutionize marketing over the next five years, only 26 percent are “very confident” they understand how AI is used in marketing. Sixty percent report integrating AI into their existing technology and 54 percent are training employees for its use, but 46 percent expressed difficulty interpreting the results.

When it comes to native ads, some consumers are still having a hard time differentiating them from editorial content. A new study, Fixing Native Ads: What Consumers Want From Publishers, Brands, Facebook, and the FTC, found that 74 percent of respondents support the idea of labeling native ads with both logos and brand names. The label, “sponsored” was considered the least confusing label by 49 percent of consumers, followed by “advertising” at 24 percent.

Top Tech

Google has released its most-searched consumer technology for 2016, revealing Apple to be the king of tech terms, along with Freedom 251—a smartphone sold in India whose manufacturer was rumored to have shut down recently. As of this posting, the only video game console to make the top 10 is the Nintendo Switch, coming in at number nine.

The top-10 most-searched consumer tech are:

  1. iPhone 7
  2. Freedom 251
  3. iPhone SE
  4. iPhone 6S
  5. Google Pixel
  6. Samsung Galaxy S7
  7. iPhone 7 Plus
  8. Note 7
  9. Nintendo Switch
  10. Samsung J7

The NPD’s top 10 best-selling games for November 2016 are:

  1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  2. Battlefield 1
  3. Pokémon Sun*
  4. Pokémon Moon*
  5. Titanfall 2
  6. NBA 2K17
  7. Madden NFL 17
  8. Watch Dogs 2
  9. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim*
  10. FIFA 17

*Asterisks indicate that digital sales were not accounted for.

Coca-Cola Appoints Chief Digital Marketing Officer; Oculus CEO Moves To PC Division

From soft drinks to VR and movies, here are some of the top personnel moves over the last week.

Coca-Cola announced that it has appointed David Godsman as its first chief digital marketing officer. Godsman was a Bank of America executive before coming to Coca-Cola, and is tasked with quickening the global alignment of its systems around a single digital marketing agenda.

Montgomery (Monty) Moran resigned from his position as co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill earlier this week. The company’s founder, Steve Ells, continues as the sole CEO and chair.

Former Oculus VR CEO, Brendan Iribe, announced that he is stepping away from his leadership role at the Facebook-owned company to lead its newly formed PC division. A separate mobile VR division is led by Jon Thomason, who has been with Oculus for four months. Iribe wrote in a blog post: “I’ve decided to lead the PC VR group—pushing the state of VR forward with Rift, research and computer vision. As we’ve grown, I really missed the deep, day-to-day involvement in building a brand new product on the leading edge of technology.”

It was revealed this week that Magic Leap’s VP of public relations, Andy Fouche, is leaving the company to join the company’s former CMO, Brian Wallace at a stealth startup founded by Andy Rubin, who also founded the Android mobile platform.

Catalyst Sports & Media named Avi Bhuiyan as executive vice president of eSports. Bhuiyan comes from League of Legends developer, Riot Games and will help lead alongside Bryce Blum to further build out Catalyst’s eSports practice.

Former top sales exec at Disney’s Maker Studios and AOL, Charles Gabriel, has joined the interactive content platform vendor Apester as president. In this newly created role, Gabriel will lead the expansion of Apester’s sales and revenue operations while driving strategic development of its content and platform services for marketers and advertising agencies.

Hulu has brought on Billy Rosenberg as director of Hulu Originals of comedy. He begins his role as head of comedy in January.

Cartoon Network has promoted both Curtis Lelash and Tramm Wigzell to SVP of original series. The two will co-lead the original series group and will expand the network’s portfolio of original video and multiplatform programming.

Comedy Central named Kellyn Parker as its new West Coast VP of original programming and development.

Media and entertainment data and analytics company, 605, has named Charlstie Veith as its SVP of marketing.

Hollywood director Bryan Singer (X-Men: First Class; Valkyrie) has hired Chris Lee to become CEO of his Bad Hat Harry production banner. Lee was formerly president at TriStar and Columbia Pictures, and will work alongside Bat Hat Harry president Jason Taylor.

Warner Bros. is shaking up its executive team, and Greg Silverman is stepping down as its creative development and production chief. At the same time, Toby Emmerich has been promoted to president and chief content officer. Emmerich formerly served as president and COO at New Line Cinema, where he played an integral role in the production of The Conjuring, Horrible Bosses, Wedding Crashers and the Hobbit trilogy.

Have a new hire tip? Let us know at

Skillz Grows Mobile ESports With Brand-Sponsored Tournaments

The Skillz platform allows typical mobile games such as Bejeweled to be turned into eSports, where players compete for prizes that include virtual currency or cash. Last June, the company announced that its annual run rate was $50 million and that it had grown by over 5x from the previous fiscal year (2015 vs. 2014). Skillz has run more than 100 million mobile eSports tournaments to date and now hosts over 500,000 tournaments every day, awarding over $5 million in cash prizes to players every month, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

The company announced the inclusion of brand-sponsored tournaments in November, which is almost certain to help grow mobile eSports gaming as more non-endemic brands have the opportunities to become involved.

Skillz founder and CEO, Andrew Paradise, recently spoke with [a]listdaily about how the brand-sponsored tournament system works and how the platform is already helping to make the mobile gaming experience better.

Andrew Paradise, Skillz founder and CEO
Andrew Paradise, Skillz founder and CEO

How will brands be shown in sponsored tournaments?

Skillz is providing brands with a lot of exciting opportunities. The beauty of what we’ve built is that we have structured offerings but are also looking at some creative options to customize additional tools based on what interests brands the most. Brands that partner with Skillz will be able to sponsor mobile eSports tournaments across thousands of Skillz-enabled games. They can sponsor an entire game, or choose to sponsor specific tournaments within a game. Brands are also able to host and sponsor physical events where players can compete at in-person tournaments, or work with social influencers via livestreamed events on Twitch, YouTube and other broadcasting sites.

What opportunities does Skillz open for brands looking to get into eSports?

According to Nielsen, sports accounted for 93 of the top 100 live viewed TV programs in 2015, compared to only 14 in 2005. This tells us that there is an increasing demand for live competitions where brands can access an engaged audience, and we’re offering the opportunity to tap into a novel and rapidly growing market: electronic sports. We enable brands to reach and engage with our audience of over 10 million players, 49 percent of which is female, as opposed to just 19 percent in the gaming industry as a whole. The new sponsorship opportunities from Skillz will continue to broaden the market, fueling the growth of the industry’s prize pools while allowing brands to connect with the next generation of athletes and fans.

Do sponsors set up tournaments by selecting games and participants themselves or is there an automated process?

We’re offering a fair amount of flexibility for sponsors when arranging their preferred level and method of involvement. Through the Skillz platform, we will have a range of sponsorship options from programmatic to more prescriptive selections where sponsors can choose their desired audience and sponsorship characteristics. We have some exciting programs coming soon.

Is there a connection between the tournament sponsor and the prizes players will be striving to win?

In many cases, the prizes for a tournament may relate to the brand sponsoring it. For example, if an online retailer chooses to sponsor a tournament, prizes could include specific products, memberships or gift cards to their website.

Does the system include a means for sponsored giveaways of products?

Right now, we are exploring all options with our initial pilot programs. We want to see what players enjoy most.

Can brands be directly connected with streamers through Skillz?

Skillz will enable brands to work with social influencers via livestreamed events on Twitch, YouTube and other broadcasting sites. We have existing relationships with a variety of top streamers, and one of the benefits we’re providing to brands with this new offering is our team’s expertise. We’ll help to curate the most engaging and relevant experiences for brands, streamers and players through expert recommendations and facilitating the best collaborations.

How does Skillz allow non-endemic brand sponsorship without sacrificing the streamer or game’s sense of authenticity?

Our mission is to make gaming better. Each time I’ve founded a company, it’s because I’ve seen a need that wasn’t being met in an industry.

With Skillz, the idea for the company came to me one day when I was playing a mobile game. The game control buttons were strategically located next to advertisements to make players accidentally tap on ads while trying to play the game. I realized that there had to be a better way for game developers to make money without negatively impacting the player experience. That’s how Skillz was born—with the goal of providing an alternate revenue stream for developers while increasing player retention and enjoyment. These new brand offerings will continue in that same spirit, by providing brands with an opportunity to get involved in the burgeoning eSports industry without negatively impacting the experience of streamers, players and other stakeholders involved.

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSports on 2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

Why HyperX Is Targeting ‘Street Fighter’ Fans

HyperX, a division of Kingston Technology, has been working with NBA gamers Gordon Hayward and Jonas Jerebko through his eSports team, Renegades. It’s part of a marketing effort to reach into the mainstream and beyond the hardcore League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 core fans. HyperX is expanding by targeting Street Fighter fans through its partnership with Daigo “The Beast” Umehara.

Dustin Illingworth, influencer marketing specialist at HyperX, told [a]listdaily that signing Daigo was part of a larger strategy to reach out beyond the core eSports gamer. “He’s a console gamer and fighting game gamer and there’s not much presence there,” Illingworth said. “Daigo’s an international celebrity with his own manga series and is a bestselling author in Japan. We’ll leverage that celebrity and likeness across our products.”

“I was interested in working with a headset brand because the quality of a headset makes a tremendous difference in a player’s performance,” Umehara told [a]listdaily. “It is a lifesaver for me. I can focus on gameplay without being affected by outside noise. The Hyper X people knew about me and reached out to me. It was a rather organic partnership. I am very happy to be able to work with such a renowned brand in eSports as HyperX.”

Through the partnership, Umehara will wear HyperX gaming headsets exclusively when competing in international competitions like the recent Capcom Cup 2016 Street Fighter V World Championship in Anaheim, CA during Sony’s PlayStation Experience. Illingworth said Umehara is widely considered to be the most successful player in the history of the Street Fighter franchise, with dozens of major wins globally including six Evolution (Evo) Championship prizes. He’ll use HyperX Cloud Stinger, Cloud Revolver, HyperX Cloud and Cloud II headsets at matches.

Daigo has two decades of high-level tournament experience and he’s Twitch’s eSports ambassador,” Illingworth said. “He’s consistently ranked in the top eight in the world. He’s one of the first people you turn to when it comes to Street Fighter, and he’s a great guy.”

Illingworth also explained that the fighting game scene is diverse age-wise because a lot of people in their mid-30s grew up playing Street Fighter II, and then there are people who entered with the more recent Street Fighter 4 and 5 over the past decade.

However, Illingworth admits that,“fighting games as an eSport is still in its infancy, and certainly isn’t as big as CS:GO or League of Legends. But we want to engage with other eSports fans and that gaming community. When you go to Intel Extreme Masters for CS:GO, that fan base already knows us and many have a Cloud II headset. At the Capcom Cup Finals, people are vaguely aware of HyperX. There’s not that level of saturation. We feel like it’s a new territory with a ton of passionate gamers who don’t know about our products.”

ESPN, which caters to many sports fans not familiar with eSports, aired a taped version of the Capcom Cup Finals the day after the live event at PSX 2016. “I think it shows that the general public has started to view video games as more than just playthings—that they can be a part of sports—and that’s been very good for the community,” Umehara said.

HyperX invited Umehara to its headquarters right after the Capcom Cup Finals so he could stream live matches on Facebook Live with company employees from their game room. “We shot a mini-documentary at the Capcom Cup Finals, following Daigo around the event,” Illingworth said. “We interviewed his peers and asked why he’s so important to the scene in 2017.”

That video, which was produced internally, will debut on the HyperX YouTube channel. There’s a sense of excitement around the Street Fighter eSports community with the recent launch of Street Fighter V, which has leveled the playing field.

SFIV was a game for which experience was worth a lot, so many old timers were good at it,” Umehara said. “The latest installment, SFV, has simplified mechanics so it’s easier for new players to pick up, which helps bring in a newer and younger audience. In fact, we’re seeing many new, young faces overall, including at the top level. SFV, by its nature, offers lots of surprises and excitement because you never know who will win.”

HyperX is betting Umehara will continue to win. Even if he doesn’t, he’s already proved himself with a diverse range of fighting fans around the globe.

Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSports on 2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.

Will ‘Super Mario Run’ Be A 1-Up Or Game Over? The Experts Weigh In

Super Mario Run has jumped its way onto iOS and experts believe this will be a major “1-Up” for Nintendo. Following a wave of Pokémon fever, Nintendo has entered the mobile games market with Mario’s first title on the platform. Shortly after the game’s announcement, over 20 million iOS users asked to be notified when it became available—if all of them purchased the game, it would make Super Mario Run more popular than the last three Super Mario Bros. games combined. While experts believe the game will be a success, just how much and why (or why not) may surprise us all.

“The nostalgia factor plays a key role here,” noted Joost van Druenen, CEO of SuperData, “as an entire generation of gamers suddenly, and finally, finds itself able to play one of their childhood franchises on their phone two weeks before the holidays.” Van Druenen is confident that Super Mario Run will be a big hit, and expects the game to be downloaded around 30 million times—generating approximately $600 million in its first month. While that sounds like a lot, this estimate is much less than Pokémon GO because Super Mario Run is only releasing on iOS this week, with no word on when it will launch for Android.

Updated: Per van Druenen: “Based on the early numbers we see coming in and the response from consumers, we expect Super Mario Run to initially earn on the lower end of our forecast, around $12-15M in its first month.”

Nostalgia played a major role in the success of Pokémon GO, which has held the number one position on mobile game charts since its launch in July and brings in a cool $2 million per day. Despite an initial craze that had everyone running out the door to play, the number of players is starting to slow, which may be perfect timing for Super Mario Run. “Now that the momentum behind Pokémon GO is starting to decline,” van Dreunen told [a]listdaily, “having another strong title arriving will allow the game, and Nintendo, to do well.”

super mario run

Unlike Pokémon GO, which uses the ever-popular freemium model (free-to-play with optional purchases), Super Mario Run comes with a $10 price tag. Van Druenen doesn’t believe the price point will deter fans, however. “The only comparable title is Minecraft, which is priced lower and benefited from being an enormous pop-cultural phenomenon,” he said, adding, “I expect Nintendo to lower its price in Q1 of next year.”

Aside from price reduction, Nintendo will need to keep fans entertained and coming back for more, especially leading up to the release of Nintendo Switch in March. “Expansion packs will likely be [Nintendo’s] first tactic to keep people playing,” van Druenen said. “If demand is strong enough, there’s no reason to assume that Nintendo will cease developing more levels.”

Update: per van Druenen, “Requiring to ‘always be online’ is prohibitive and the game is still a bit too heavy-handed for quick-play on a phone.”

Findings from analytics firm, Newzoo echoes SuperData, predicting that Super Mario Run will be a hit simply because it’s Mario. According to Newzoo’s Game Franchise Tracker, the Mario brand is one of the strongest in gaming today, as the fourth-most-played gaming franchise globally in the past three months and number one in Japan. “Nearly three decades of relentlessly high-quality games of different genres have helped cement Mario’s reputation as a byword for excellence and fun,” said Newzoo in a statement. The firm added that 95 percent of people who play Mario games already play mobile games and 1.8 million of them are mobile big spenders.

Despite all this excitement, it’s not all wine and fire flowers for Mario’s mobile debut. Newzoo warns that by not launching on Android, Nintendo could leave huge revenues from 70 percent of the world’s mobile gamers behind, reminding us that a majority of Pokémon GO’s revenue comes from the Google Play Store. “With Pokémon GO, gamers could work around the US-only launch, as tens of millions of non-Americans changed their app store account settings,” observed Jelle Kooistra, head of Newzoo Mobile. “This time, the only workaround is to buy an Apple device. The immediate risk that Nintendo is taking is angering fans and increasing the chance of the game being ripped and distributed on Android illegally.”


Peter Warman, CEO at Newzoo, predicts a more modest revenue stream at $100 million over the next few weeks, but sees Super Mario Run as part of the big picture for Nintendo rather than a standalone hit. “We anticipate that in a couple of years from now, smartphone and tablet games will account for at least half of Nintendo’s software revenues,” he said. “[December 15], Nintendo takes the first step. A small step for the industry, but a giant leap for Nintendo.”