Why Non-Endemic Brands Are Investing In ESports

What do Adidas, Visa, Lionsgate, 5 Hour Energy, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat have in common? They all invested in eSports over the last week. These companies are the latest in a growing trend for non-endemic brands to realize the potential of this young, engaged demographic.

According to Manny Anekal of The Next Level, here are the brands that invested in eSports in 2016:


From health food to guilty pleasures, the largest number of new investors comes from the food and beverage industry—continuing a long history of partnerships between food and gaming brands.

Quest Nutrition, maker of the Quest Bar, is the first non-endemic sponsor to get on board Robert Morris University’s (RMU) eSports program.

“After researching the space, meeting with pro players, and talking about their training regiment, we realized that these athletes need to treat their bodies much like traditional athletes do and we want to help them tell the story of how living a healthy lifestyle can help their performance,” Nick Robinson, chief marketing officer of Quest Nutrition, told [a]listdaily.



  • MGM
  • 20th Century Fox
  • Legendary
  • Universal
  • Sony Pictures


  • Vodafone
  • AT&T
  • Xfinity
  • Bell
  • Dolby
  • T-Mobile
  • Hisense
  • Sennheiser
  • Orange
  • Honor


  • Gazprom


  • Gemini Trust
  • Visa
  • St. George

Visa hosted the Visa Vegas eRace at CES this year and has partnered with eSports team SK Gaming for 2017. Lara Balazs, senior vice president and head of North American marketing at Visa, told [a]listdaily these endeavors into eSports and the Formula E are not short-term ventures. “Our European division of Visa has been engaged in eSports for a few years,” Balazs said. “We in North America and in other regions of our global footprint are starting to look at eSports and consider how it fits into our overall go-to-market approach.”

Guild Wars 2 eSports


  • Ford
  • Hyundai
  • Audi
  • Nissan
  • Uber


  • Turtle Wax
  • Michelin
  • Gillette
  • Geico
  • Mobil
  • Axe
  • Credit Karma
  • Weedmaps
  • Adidas

Rob Candelino, vice president of marketing and general manager of haircare at Unilever (maker of Axe), told [a]listdaily that eSports is an international gaming phenomenon that is rapidly growing with millions of fans and a large following of young males.

“Best of all, many of the eSports players have great hair and everyday style their fans want to emulate,” Candelino said. “These players understand the importance of looking their best whether playing in an international tournament or practicing at home in the team house. Partnering with eSports players is a great opportunity for Axe Hair to speak to fans about how easy everyday styling can be through the voice of the flourishing eSports community.”

Why ESports Is Worth The Investment

As you may have noticed, not all the above investing brands seem to fit into what you’d imagine eSports to be, but consider this—competitive gaming and eSports is projected to be worth $1.1 billion by 2019 and more viewers currently watch it than the World Series and NBA Finals.

Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, a pro gamer and former captain of Optic Gaming, told [a]listdaily that non-endemic brands are crucial to eSports because they support engagement and send people who know their brands into the gaming and eSports world. “They put more eyes into the industry we’re working in and help drive sales and supplement the community,” Haag said. “Non-endemic brands that have never stepped into this space provide so much opportunity to complement eSports and implement their brand. It’d be great if more companies follow suit and find more creative ways to work in eSports. Anybody getting into eSports now is ‘A-OK’ in my book.”

Coming to Los Angeles on February 16, [a]list summit: Competitive Gaming + ESports is the definitive event for marketers who want to understand eSports and competitive gaming and are looking to investigate opportunities in the space.

Register now to attend [a]list summit and learn the tactics and techniques to tap into this massive opportunity and get in front of this vibrant, burgeoning audience.

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 alistsummit.com for more info.

GDC State Of The Industry Survey Reveals Optimism For Nintendo Switch, HTC Vive and ESports

Each year, Game Developers Conference (GDC) organizers conduct a survey to highlight some of the major trends in gaming and where the industry is headed. This year, 4,500 industry professionals responded to the State of the Industry Survey and they have some surprising attitudes toward the Nintendo Switch, the mid-cycle console upgrades, and the future of VR.

Based on the survey, mobile and PC gaming lead the way for game development. About 53 percent of respondents stated that they were currently developing games for the PC/Mac, and 38 percent said they were developing mobile games. For the first time, Android development is outpacing Apple’s iOS platform. Around 54 percent of participants said that they were currently making games for the Android platform while 51 percent were creating games for iOS. The State of the Industry survey notes that this is a small but significant shift from the previous year, and the fact that the survey was opened to countries outside of the North America may have impacted the results.

In comparison, 27 percent said they were developing a PlayStation 4 game and 22 percent were developing for Xbox One. These numbers closely match the survey from the previous year, except that a significantly higher number of developers (23 percent) said that they were developing games for VR platforms, outpacing Xbox One development. The previous survey showed that 16 percent of developers were making games for VR—a seven percent change.

High Optimism For Nintendo Switch

Although there is plenty that still needs to be revealed about Nintendo’s upcoming console, respondents are generally optimistic about the Switch’s success. About half believe that it will at least outsell the Wii U in its lifetime. However, given the disappointing sales of the Wii U, that might not be a very high bar for achievement. Fourteen percent didn’t believe that the Switch would outsell the Wii U and 37 percent were unsure.

However, respondents were less sure about the console’s major feature—the ability to change from a home console to a portable one. About 48 percent thought the feature might resonate with the public (although it would not be a world-changing), while only 19 percent gave a definite yes, agreeing that it was the right product for the right time.

HTC Vive Tops VR

Of the three premium VR headsets to release in 2016 (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR), the Vive won out as the most popular platform to develop for despite its high price point. This is tempered by the fact that 61 percent of respondents said that they weren’t developing for VR, but most of those that were favored the Vive. When asked what VR platform they were developing for, 24 percent named the Vive, 23 percent said Oculus Rift and 13 percent said PlayStation VR. The Vive and Oculus Rift may be very close in popularity, but this is a major change from the previous year, which showed 19 percent of respondents developing for the Rift while the Vive and PSVR got 6 percent each.

The HTC Vive also topped the survey in terms of developer interest. When asked which VR platform interested developers most, 45 percent said Vive. About 30 percent of respondents were interested in the Oculus Rift and 29 percent showed interest in the PSVR.

Additionally, the large majority of developers felt that the industry was trending towards mobile VR and AR—specifically augmented reality. When asked which they though would be the dominant platform for VR in five years, PC/consoles or mobile, 33 percent of respondents said mobile while 31 percent went with PC/consoles. Seventeen percent said that the platforms would be about equal in popularity, eight percent said neither would be important, and 12 percent said that they didn’t know.

Looking 20 years into the future, 43 percent of respondents said that AR would surpass VR in popularity. Meanwhile, 21 percent predicted that AR and VR would be about equal, and 19 percent chose VR as the future’s dominant reality technology. Furthermore, 12 percent admitted that they didn’t know and five percent said neither would be important in 20 years.

Developers Unsure About Mid-Cycle Console Upgrades

The PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S both debuted in 2016, and it should be noted that the survey was issued in November—the same month the PS4 Pro released. With that taken into consideration, the survey reveals that developers were unsure whether mid-cycle console updates, including Microsoft’s upcoming super console, Project Scorpio, was good for the industry. Forty-one percent of respondents were undecided, 36 percent said they were neutral on the matter, and 18 percent thought they were good for the industry.

Digital Storefronts Top Promotions

When asked to share what the most effective promotional methods were, a platform’s digital storefront (PlayStation Store, Steam, Xbox Live, etc.) topped responses, with 19 percent of respondents ranking it at #1, followed by community/fan social media, developers’ social media, and traditional press and bloggers.

Twitch streamers ranked last, with only 3 percent of respondents saying that it was the top way to promote their last projects. This statistic remains unchanged from the previous survey, but it’s also important to note that respondents did not rate all the methods because they did not try every form of game promotion.

ESports Still Going Strong

Above all, developers are extremely optimistic about the future of eSports. When asked whether they thought eSports was a sustainable business in the long-term, 90 percent of respondents said yes. That’s a two percent increase from the previous year’s survey.

One respondent wrote: “As long as you have a crowd that is big enough to support it, it will go well. We can see that for many years the interest in eSports is growing. And with more acceptance for video games in social, it could probably go as well as football someday.”

These Mobile Companion Apps Keep Console Players In The Game

There are an estimated 207 million smartphone users in the US and 155 million Americans who play video games regularly, according to recent studies. Someday, it may be possible to enjoy your favorite console game on the go (a feat the Nintendo Switch will soon attempt), but for now, publishers are using companion apps to keep their fans engaged. Allowing players to access character statistics, unlock in-game bonuses and more from anywhere on their smartphones or tablets, these video game companion apps keep players engaged until they can pick up a controller once again.

Bethesda: Fallout Pip-Boy

Despite being released over a year ago, Fallout 4 is still going strong for Bethesda and came in at number five for premium PC video game revenues in 2016. Throughout the game series, user interfaces are accessed through the character’s Pip-Boy—a device worn on the wrist that offers a Geiger counter, health status, radio, map, journal, inventory list and more. The idea of a smart device that you take anywhere makes a natural translation to mobile through the Pip-Boy app, available on both Android and iOS.

Linking to a player’s game of Fallout 4 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC, this companion apps remembers their status and allows them to access in-game data, inventory, map, radio and even play mini-games.


Bungie: Destiny

For the Guardian on the go, the Destiny companion app allows players to inspect their characters, check stats, access gear and view their Grimoire (book of spells). In addition, Bungie keeps fans connected through the app with forums, groups and private messaging through the app. Hardcore fans can read in-game lore and receive the latest developer updates, as well.


EA Sports: FIFA 17 Companion

Sports is all about statistics, so viewing and managing one’s team while at work or on the subway is a natural fit for FIFA 17. EA’s companion app, as it did with FIFA 16, allows full management of a player’s FUT 17 Club. The app also offers new Squad Challenges, in which users build and exchange players for rewards. Fans can even access the Transfer Market, where they can bid on and offer players for use in-game.


EA: Battlefield Companion

There is a lot going on in EA’s Battlefield 1, so a companion app is a great way to stay on top of things in between games. Through this complete overhaul of the Battlelog app, users can access statistics and customize their loadout, design an emblem and more for both Battlefield 4 and the newly released Battlefield 1. Users can also stay in the know with news and videos from Electronic Arts.


Honorable Mentions

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed IV Companion app not only allows access to the game’s user interface, but acts as a second screen. Players can sync their games with the app (tablet recommended) to access a more in-depth map, real-time game happenings and interact with other players. EA has a very good habit of developing companion apps for its most popular titles, including Star Wars: Battlefront with a galaxy-sized list of things to do. EA’s Mirror’s Edge Companion gives players a 3D map of the game’s City of Glass and allows users to create challenges, view statistics, interact with friends and more. Both PlayStation and Xbox offer companion apps that allow gamers to access their profiles on the go, offering a multitude of options on Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus while out and about. I, for one, have fond memories of playing the Halo: Reach beta with my husband and checking my stats through Bungie’s Halo Waypoint app. The app is no longer available, but it has been revamped for the new games as Halo Channel.

How Mid-roll Ads Are Changing Social Media Video Monetization

“And now, a word from our sponsor . . .” Consumers are used to commercial breaks on TV, but video interruption on other platforms may soon become the norm.

Facebook will begin testing mid-roll ads on Facebook Live, according to a source familiar with the company. As reported by Recode, Facebook will sell the ads and share 55 percent of revenue with video publishers, matching the current revenue split offered by YouTube. Until now, the social media giant—boasting 100 million hours of video views per day—allowed only sponsored video content to be uploaded, but no pre-roll advertising. This has made it difficult for brands to see an immediate return on investment for their video production efforts. If the tests are successful, mid-roll ads on Facebook will encourage creators to upload videos of at least a 90 second duration, and the ads only appear once a viewer has watched a clip for at least 20 seconds. Perhaps in light of recent video view controversy, Facebook is trying to prove that its video views are not only being accurately counted, but are potentially a steady revenue stream for brands.

The idea of video ad breaks was hinted at last fall when Facebook’s vice president of partnerships, Dan Rose, spoke of the potential.

“Next year, we’re going to be looking at ways to apply the ad break model to regular videos on Facebook, videos that are not live,” he told Poynter. “Videos that are producing and publishing. We’re not there yet. Over the next few months, we’re going to be expanding the ad break within live videos. But early next year, we hope to be able to talk more about how that same idea could apply to regular videos as well.”

Snapchat began utilizing mid-roll ads last October by displaying them when someone watches more than one Stories update in a row. Both Snapchat and Facebook are hoping to challenge YouTube for video ad supremacy, although they’ve got a long way to go before then. YouTube remains at the forefront of mid-roll usage, allowing users to insert ads mid-way through long-form videos lasting 10 minutes or more.

Why do mid-roll ads work? According to the Ooyala Video Index’s “The Rise Of The Mid-Roll,” mid-roll ads had a 90 percent average completion rate, compared to 78 percent for pre-roll and 65 percent for post-roll. The success of mid-roll completion rates may be attributed to the viewer already being invested in the video content they are watching, and therefore more willing to watch the entire ad. Another explanation offered by Ooyala is that mid-roll ads look and feel like watching TV where people are already accustomed to breaks in the video content they’re watching.

“Mid-roll ads are a powerful opportunity for brands to insert their message in a (seemingly) seamless way, without annoying the viewer from the get-go. People will likely be more tolerant of ads because when they’re already engaged in the content. Whereas, with pre-roll, the engagement has yet to begin, which gives viewers an immediate ‘out’,” said Lindsey Buchanan, director of content strategy for ION.

Mid-roll accounts for more than 33 percent of digital video ads in apps, online and through video-streaming boxes like Apple TV—up from 20 percent at the start of 2015, according to recent figures from Ooyala based on the ads sold through its platform. Pre-roll ads, meanwhile, have been on the decline, Ooyala reported.


‘Street Fighter’ Pro Alex Valle Discusses How Fighting Games Are Enabling ESports

Alex Valle is known to millions of fighting game fans as “CaliPower.” The pro gamer has been competing since the Street Fighter II days, long before Twitch and startups like Stream.Me even existed. These days Valle remains entrenched in the fighting eSports community and produces content and tournaments through his Level Up, LLC.

Valle has partnered with Stream.Me to launch the four-week Savage Series, which will send the champion all expenses paid to EVO 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. Additionally, runner-up contestants, a circuit participant, and some lucky viewers at home will be awarded limited edition Street Fighter skateboard decks from Nsurgo.

Savage Series will be hosted and broadcast live via Stream.me, a video platform that gives viewers the ability to simultaneously view multiple players and casters in up to 4K HD video running at 60 frames-per-second. Competitors are invited to broadcast their matches exclusively via Stream.Me.

Valle, CEO and co-founder of Level Up Productions, discusses the opportunities the fighting game genre opens up for sponsors in this exclusive interview.

Savage Series

How have you seen the Capcom Cup impact the overall fighting eSports ecosystem?

The Capcom Cup has given the community a roadmap to becoming a world championship contender throughout the tour. Tournament organizers partnered with the tour have been given the opportunity to create higher quality events which attract new players and many fighting game fans watching on stream.

What role do you see this Savage Series playing in the fighting eSports genre?

These days, the first real opponent you play in fighting games is most likely from online matchmaking. We’re inviting North American players from the comfort of their own home to compete versus the best out there. Savage Series is a free online circuit which gives an opportunity to those players, which may not have the means to travel, compete at the largest fighting game event in the world, the EVO Championship Series in Las Vegas.

How are you working with Capcom on this new series?

Our friends at Capcom are currently in the offseason since Capcom Cup 2016 just ended in December. We are partnering with Stream.me to produce Savage Series as a community driven initiative which includes organizers and casters from globally recognized events such as Weds Night Fights and SoCal Regionals.

Will you be expanding beyond Street Fighter V in the future? What are your long-term plans for Savage Series?

There are plans to expand beyond Street Fighter V for sure. I’m a fan of various titles and have built relationships with publishers to bring even more opportunities for the players which love their games. With that said, timing has to be right such as release dates for upcoming titles, netcode testing, and trends in the community before announcing the next event. Savage Series is currently a one month circuit to kick off Street Fighter V Season 2 this year. We work with community feedback to determine our next move so hopefully everyone shares their thoughts after the series. This helps us figure out if a short circuit is best, a yearly, and/or what other game(s) they would like to see. I personally would love more travel opportunities for other major events.

What opportunities do you see the fighting eSports community opening up for sponsors and advertisers?

ESports events always have an opportunity to attract sponsors and advertisers through streaming and on the show floor. Events such as Savage Series highlights weekly competition where sponsors could utilize stream time to advertise their products and services to fighting game fans. The model has proven successful with certain events and partners—but it’s not easy.

How does this audience differ from the PC-centric MOBA and FPS eSports audience?

The fighting game community was born in the arcade era where players compete right next to each other on the same game cabinet. Rushing your opponent down in the fight in just a few minutes and witnessing their every emotion while doing it is the best feeling in the world. Having your friends watch the beatdown creates hype moments where everybody gets crazy-excited—like watching a knockout in boxing. Very easy to understand, right? Other eSports or PC-centric audiences have a certain build up which eventually turns into excitement. It’s more of the storytelling which leads to their hype moments and the casters being very informative to keep everyone aligned. These titles take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to finish a match or round. Whereas fighting games only take a few minutes.

Why did you partner with Stream.me over Twitch or other platforms?

Level Up is a neutral partner which works together with many platforms. Twitch is our 2016 partner for Weds Night Fights and SoCal Regionals for the Capcom Pro Tour. We are currently partnered with Stream.me to produce the Savage Series in 2017. We didn’t choose one platform over the other, but instead, decided to create as many avenues as possible for up-and-coming players, which is healthy for the scene. Stream.me has been amazing to work with on the Savage Series and we can’t wait to showcase the event in January to kick off the New Year.

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 alistsummit.com for more info.

Red Bull Video Series Puts ESports Athletes To The Test

Red Bull sponsors a variety of high-speed sports that include global rallycross and air racing. However, the energy drink company is also a major eSports sponsor, which doesn’t even require its players to get up from their chairs. So, it was probably inevitable that Red Bull would seek to bridge the two worlds, which is what it did with an online video series called Away From Keyboard.

Created in partnership with Team SoloMid (TSM) and Cloud9, Away From Keyboard takes these eSports athletes and pushes them beyond their comfort zones. Athletes who are used to playing in front of computer and TV screens participate in activities that range from skydiving, to doing a few laps in a rally car with professional driver Mitchell Dejong, and using teamwork to escape from a locked room.

“We knew we wanted to collaborate with our partners TSM and Cloud9 and create a different show together,” said Carleton Curtis, Red Bull’s program director for eSports, telling [a]listdaily how the idea came together. “It grew into wanting to give these eSports athletes an experience outside their day-to-day; an experience they could learn from but also help make them better athletes. From there, Away From Keyboard was born.”

Curtis also explained how many of the physical challenges were inspired by the World of Red Bull. “We turned to our amazing high-performance team to develop many concepts and we also looked to Red Bull athletes for inspiration,” said Curtis. “It was great to see each athlete come together and gain a mutual respect as experts in their fields, while also gaining fresh perspective and knowledge they could take back to their respective sport.”

The challenge for the eSports athletes mainly involved facing their fears and helping them to overcome their “lone wolf” attitudes by sharpening their teamwork skills. “The biggest challenge with skydiving for the players was that they had never done it before,” said Parth Naidu from Team SoloMid. “They had all these fears and expectations that they just had to set aside and force themselves to do it.”

“The ropes course was challenging both mentally and physically. It required us to trust each other as well as ourselves,” said Michael “FlashX” Valore, also from Team SoloMid, recounting Away From Keyboard’s toughest challenges.

“The rock wall was the more physically demanding challenge and we had to be in constant communication in order to successfully scale the wall,” Valore continued. “Because we were tethered together, whoever was further up the wall had to look back and help our teammate find the correct path when navigating upwards. We had to trust each other’s guidance and decision making to complete the task at hand in the most optimal way possible just like we do in game.

“The leap of faith was the mentally demanding challenge as we had to overcome our fear of heights and jump out trying to grab onto the ring with complete trust in our teammates that we would not drop each other. We were definitely apprehensive about being able to complete both challenges but looking back we truly gained a lot from the experience. The toughest challenge was the rock wall. Not only was it very high and we had to combat our fear of heights similar to the leap of faith but it was also incredibly physically demanding. By the end of it, my arms were dead tired and I was definitely sore from it the next day.”

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 alistsummit.com for more info.

Nintendo’s Brand Messaging Shows Longevity, Ability To Evolve

Nintendo celebrated a number of major milestones in 2016, from the 20th anniversary of Pokémon to Mario’s mobile gaming debut and the announcement of its seventh home gaming console. Through a number of strategic partnerships and announcements this past year, Nintendo proves that the gaming brand of our youth has all grown up.

It’s no secret that Nintendo has its sights set on the mobile realm. As smartphones are the most popular gaming devices today, the strategy makes sense . . . if done right. Miitomo tested the waters with an explosive debut in March, attracting over three million users within 24 hours of launch. While the messaging app failed to hold users’ attention after a while, Pokémon GO changed the way brands (gaming or otherwise) thought about augmented reality forever. The game was such a hit that the world had a fever, and the only prescription was more pokéballsThis free-to-play mobile phenomenon brought in a staggering $788 million in microtransactions within its first five months.

Super Mario Run, on the other hand, launched for iOS on December 15 and has already been downloaded over 90 million times, according to estimates by Newzoo. The infamous plumber’s mobile debut is the embodiment of the “freemium” dilemma—while consumers are willing to pay for microtransactions, charging $10 upfront denies Nintendo the opportunity of earning future income from existing users . . . something Pokémon GO illustrates by earning a cool two million dollars per day. Launching only for Apple devices to start with may also have attributed to the game’s early fizzle, limiting its reach and dooming potential Android users to read reviews instead of trying it out for themselves.


Despite this fact, industry experts predict strong ties between Nintendo and the mobile gaming industry over the coming years. Peter Warman, CEO at Newzoo, 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.

The late, great Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata agreed. “All of our IP can be considered for a smart device game,” he told investors during a 2015 call. “On the other hand, since the game business on smart devices is already severely competitive, even with highly popular IP, the odds of success are quite low if consumers cannot appreciate the quality of a game.” During the call, Nintendo revealed plans to release five mobile games through its partnership with DeNA by March of 2017.

Nintendo’s overall branding message seems to be, “adapt and live forever.” The company’s flagship store in New York was renamed Nintendo New York, which implies that other locations could be in the works. The brand has also partnered with Universal Studios for a major development of theme park experiences in Orlando, Hollywood and Osaka, Japan.

The big Switch reveal illustrates eSports potential for the company. Source: Nintendo
The big Switch reveal illustrated eSports potential for the company. Source: Nintendo

While nostalgia plays a major role in Nintendo’s promotional efforts—the NES Classic Edition, for example—the company has historically focused on innovation and exploring new ways to enjoy their products. Such is the case with the Nintendo Switch (formally NX) console. The device, which is a gaming tablet with a dedicated docking station, brings together the big screen experience of console systems and the portability and convenience of a mobile device. In addition to being able to play anywhere, the Switch console announcement trailer demonstrated the potential of eSports—a growing arena that many other publishers have already explored in greater depth.

“ESports is a big and vibrant community,” Nintendo president, Reggie Fils-Aimé told [a]listdaily. “We view it as a community. We’re fortunate that we have one of the most acknowledged eSports games in Smash Bros. We’re also fortunate that various eSports leagues have experimented with Splatoon and that looks promising. They’ve experimented with Mario Kart, which could be fun for the younger consumer tier within the eSports area. So we’ve got the content to leverage into this area. It’s something that we’ve continued to look at, and it’s something that we believe can be a great way to reach out to our consumers.”

Going into a new year, things are looking bright for the gaming giant, but as always, the company will learn through trial and error. A Pokémon feature film is in development, the Switch releases this spring and we look forward to what other surprises the brand has to offer. Fils-Aimé said it best when he told us,  “Nintendo has a quite appropriate reputation of doing its own thing.”

NextVR On The Future Of Livestreaming ESports In VR

Virtual reality was once again the talk of Las Vegas during CES 2017. In addition to current VR headsets such as Sony’s PlayStation VR, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, new entries are coming to market from companies like Lenovo, Asus, HP, Dell, Acer and Vove.

“The difference between last year and this year was there more hype and not much was known about VR and this year it’s settled in a bit,” Brad Allen, executive chairman of NextVR (which livestreamed The Game Awards in VR last year), told [a]listdaily. The good news for content companies like NextVR, which streams sports and entertainment in VR and creates original 360-degree video packages, is that all of the major players that have headsets in the market, and the new ones that are coming all need content.

“Livestreaming is at the highest interest level, especially with sports and music, which are two things we’re focused on with NBA and Live Nation,” Allen said. “We’re expecting this year to be amazing with more live events livestreamed in real stereoscopic VR. Everything is about live video now.”

ESports has become a focal point for the livestreaming industry with companies like Sliver.tv, Jaunt and NextVR entering the game. NextVR is part of the Axiomatic group, which acquired Team Liquid last year. “We’re very focused on eSports for 2017,” Allen said. “We invested in Team Liquid. The eSports demographic is perfect for VR. There are 100 million MAUs on League of Legends and it’s global, which very much fits into our strategy. We’ll be creating the product around that—much the way we’ve created product around NBA games.”

NextVR has been livestreaming an NBA game in VR every week this season. “When we started out two years ago, it was more about displaying and showcasing our technology as opposed to building a product, but the NBA games are full-on production,” Allen said. “We have sideline reports and commentary and graphics to keep the audience engaged and keep the headset on.”

Even the current NBA season has evolved quickly with VR livestreaming, going from the beginning of the season with half court cameras and different angles like cameras on the backboards to adding all the storytelling elements they’ve incorporated today. “We’ve seen the average time people spend watching games in VR grow from the high single digits to now 35 minutes before someone takes off the headset,” Allen said. “Considering that the headsets are still not sleek and lightweight, that’s incredible.”

Allen said the same elements of building in storytelling and full production around a live VR sports event can be applied to eSports. “We’ve learned from the NBA production that the [eSports] audience wants to be entertained more so than just the initial wow factor of sitting courtside,” Allen said.

NextVR has relationships with Riot Games as well as MLB, which owns BamTech, the company that will be streaming League of Legends games. “We’ll be having discussions with those guys,” explained Allen. “We’re doing some testing. Sliver.tv has been doing some things in VR and we’re bringing in some gamers and seeing what they like.”

On the production side, Allen said that going to the arena is similar to doing an NBA game. “I went to the League of Legends Finals with Peter Guber and other (Axiomatic) guys at the Staples Center and it was amazing,” Allen said. “Everyone was dressed up as characters and cheering like Kobe was making a shot—except they’re watching a video game on a big jumbotron video board.”

Allen said the challenge of eSports is not just putting a camera courtside, it’s “How do you get into the game and be part of the game in a way that captures the energy of being there in the arena?”

NextVR recently launched on Google Daydream, and Allen said his streaming service will expand to other VR platforms this Q1, including PlayStation VR. NextVR has also worked closely with Fox Sports over the past few years. At CES 2017, Fox Sports was featured in the augmented reality demo of the new R-8 and R-9 Osterhout Design Group (ODG) smartglasses.

“At some point, all those technologies will come together, and AR and VR will all become mixed reality,” Allen said. “And livestreaming is needed for all of them. We’re excited about all of these other form factors and different ways of adding livestreaming to the mix.”

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 alistsummit.com for more info.

LOL Wut: 5 Incredibly Bizarre Video Game Promotions

Video game marketing can make you laugh, cry or in some cases, wonder what the heck just happened. Staying on top of the latest trends means that in addition to the really authentic, intuitive marketing campaigns out there, you also tend to encounter some really bizarre ones. Admittedly, being weird can be an effective tool for brand recognition and whether or not these ads inspire you to buy . . . they sure won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Sugar Goggles

Making an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this past weekend, the diet brand, Atkins decided to make cutting out sugar a bit more high-tech. Enter Sugar Goggles, a virtual reality game aimed at teenagers. Atkins hopes to install its VR experience in high schools to “empower them” with knowledge about how much sugar is in food. Users are challenged with entering the human body and capturing foods while learning about their glycemic intake . . . we think. The point isn’t particularly clear but it has something to do with gold rings and blood cells. And don’t eat bread, I guess.

gold_ring sugar-goggles


4D Candle

Ahhh . . . that abandoned house smell. Capcom is about to immerse players into its horrifying world of Resident Evil like never before through virtual reality. Capcom decided that in order to further that immersion, the Resident Evil 7: Blood, Sweat And Fears candle will fill a room with the scents of terror. Burning for between eight and 20 hours, the candle may also evoke visions of “old timber and leather,” according to Merchoid, which sells the officially licensed product. Ya know, just in case you want to know what death smells like. Capcom has a history of macabre activations for its world-famous zombie brand, from serving brains to opening a human meat market in London.


Cup Noodle XV

Oh, Japan. You have gifted the world with some of the best, weirdest things ever. Final Fantasy XV features a side quest called “Perfect Cup” in which players can craft their very own Nissin Cup Noodle with their best buds. Afterwards, the game’s characters seriously discuss how great the ramen is and how they’ve come to appreciate the snack even more. Wildy popular in Japan, Cup Noodle even got its own version of the Final Fantasy XV trailer.


Nosulus Rift

Visitors to Gamescom were uh . . . treated . . . to a very smelly addition to their demo for South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Ubisoft’s latest tale of kids getting into all sorts of mayhem features a unique game mechanic in which farting is used to do just about anything. From fighting to moving around, cutting the cheese is an important aspect of gameplay. To “complement” the demo experience, players were fitted with the Nosulus Rift—a device that blows fart smells into your nose. Try not to cry (with joy, unless you have a little brother to torment) because this little gem is not available for sale and was produced only for convention use.

Start Me

Racking up over 1.8 million views is this bizarre but memorable ad for Madden NFL 17. Denver Broncos’ linebacker, Von Miller is delightfully goofy in this musical plea to have players build their in-game defense around his character.

How Ubisoft Keeps ‘The Division’ And ‘Rainbow Six Siege’ Ahead Of The Competition

The video game industry continued to emphasize treating games as a service in 2016, giving downloadable content, eSports promotion and continued support to increase the longevity of a game all the more important. This great departure from more traditional releases, where a development team would soon move on to different projects after launching a game, can be seen in some of Ubisoft’s most popular titles.

Online multiplayer role-playing game, Tom Clancy’s The Division, broke records when it launched last March. Since then, it has remained a popular game that its players can’t get enough of. Meanwhile, the team-based competitive shooter, Rainbow Six Siege, has received regular free updates since it launched in December, 2015. Combined with its eSports promotion, regular content helps keep players engaged with the game and battling against each other in an attackers-vs.-defenders fashion. Lastly, Ubisoft’s online racing game, The Crew, was temporarily offered for free last year, which helped grow the player base while celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary.

Ubisoft’s vice president of live operations, Anne Blondel-Jouin, talked to [a]listdaily about how the company continues to promote engagement for its service-oriented games to ensure players keep coming back to shoot, drive and compete.

Anne Blondel-Jouin, Ubisoft
Anne Blondel-Jouin, Ubisoft vice president of live operations

What does the term “games as a service” mean to you?

Games as a service, or live games, refer to games that offer an evolving long-term, entertaining experience for our players. They often have a focus on online competitive multiplayer experiences such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege but they can also include other types of game experiences like The Crew. “Live” refers to all the activities and interactions created for the game community including pre- and post-launch as well as regular updates, new content, and events both in-game and out-of-game, etc. throughout the game’s lifespan.

How does presenting a game a as a service differ from the traditional way of developing and promoting games?

In terms of development, live services are considered and planned for from the very beginning of a project. Teams continue to work on a game after its release, whereas before, when games were launched, nearly all of the team transitioned to another project. Now the team continues to create and deliver new content, improve the game and maintain dedicated support should issues arise.

What is the key to maintaining engagement with an audience for an extended period of time?

The key is to listen and communicate with our players so that we understand their feedback. The communities that play our games are incredibly passionate and engaged, spending hours improving their skills and having wonderful experiences. It’s crucial to understand their feedback, take them into account and implement changes if necessary that are aligned with the global game experience we commit on delivering. This is work we’ve been doing for example with Tom Clancy’s The Division, with the Public Test Server, as well as inviting some players to the studio in order to work with them on making the game even better.

How do you compete for long-term engagement when many others are doing the same?

As for a game that follows a classic launch scenario, live games need to be of a very high-quality in order to succeed. From then on, everything delivered to gamers during the life such games have, to be on par with this very high-quality: it is all about delivering long-lasting, outstanding entertainment experiences. This ranges from live operations (server infrastructure, for instance) to live content (such as eSports competitions) and providing gamers with the best tools and instruments possible for them to make our games their games. Success comes from keeping up with the original quality promise we make to gamers when the game launches.

What does keeping a game relevant as an eSport require?

ESports is a way for us to provide another type of experience to gamers, whether they play (as amateur, semipro or pro) or watch the game as spectators. It’s us continuing to support the community with events they’re looking for (whether grassroots competition or all-star challenges), and providing them with in-game tools and instruments such as leaderboards and spectator cams, etc. In addition, eSports starts with having the best competitive game possible, which will evolve according to player feedback. A great example was when we began cracking down hard on cheaters in Rainbow Six Siege, and the response from both the community and professional players was extremely positive and supportive.

When do you decide when a game’s life cycle is over?

We don’t have an expiration date on a live game. As long as we can keep providing the best experience to the gamers, and as long as they are still enjoying the content, it makes sense for us to continue our support. The Crew has been around for two years already and Rainbow Six Siege is entering its second season soon; we can’t wait to see how it goes but it is ultimately up to the gamers to decide! Our responsibility is to keep delivering the best quality possible in everything we do and continuing to listen to and engage our dedicated community.