Andrew Paradise On The State Of The Mobile Games Market

Q1 2020 was the largest quarter for mobile game downloads ever, with over 13 billion installs across Google Play and the App Store. That upward trajectory continued as the average weekly mobile game ad spend surged from about $700,000 in February to over $1.4 million in March and reached even higher levels in April at just under $2 million. 

But the industry didn’t need the pandemic to prosper; in 2019, Sensor Tower estimated that players spent about $61.7 billion on games. That represents a 12.8 percent increase from 2018 and its $54.7 billion total. Now where do mobile games go from here and what does that post-pandemic journey look like? Ahead of this week’s virtual Los Angeles Games Conference panel on the growth of mobile games, we spoke with Skillz Inc. CEO and founder Andrew Paradise about his thoughts on the changes affecting creativity in the arena, what role fundraising tournaments have played in COVID and the mobile game trends he foresees emerging.

What do you predict will be the changes that will affect creativity and innovation in the mobile games market during and post-COVID-19?

Since the pandemic began, the mobile gaming sector has fared better than most forms of entertainment because the majority of our content can be built remotely, whereas many other types of entertainment require large groups to work in studio or office settings. Recent months have shown how resilient mobile games are, both as an industry and a form of digital entertainment. As cities and economies have shut down around the world, Skillz players have turned to their favorite games as much needed entertainment, while our developer partners continued building and launching new games from their home offices. I think this pandemic is also showing us how powerful mobile gaming is as a way to stay connected to friends and family. After hours, I love to compete with my friends in some of our favorite games. It’s a fun new way to socialize after a long day of video calls.

What role have fundraising tournaments played in Skillz’s response to the pandemic?

Skillz has a proud history of leveraging the power of our platform to give back to important causes. During this pandemic, we mobilized the Skillz platform to fund Red Cross blood drives across the country and raise money for 170 children’s hospitals fighting COVID. We have long helped nonprofit partners like the World Wildlife Fund and American Cancer Society reach younger, mobile-first demographics, quickly launch large scale digital fundraisers, and engage new donors through fun, competitive games. The Skillz commitment to giving back is core to our company’s values, and we are honored to be part of the fight against this pandemic.

What area of the mobile games market do you feel has been most impacted by COVID? How is Skillz addressing this?

COVID-19 has tragically disrupted the global economy, but like all forms of digital media, mobile gaming has become an important form of comfort and entertainment during the pandemic. The Skillz business has remained strong, and we’ve seen increased interest from brands looking to leverage our platform as a new way to reach consumers now that stay-at-home orders have disrupted many traditional marketing models.

How is Skillz further bridging the gap between disruptive ads and a seamless player experience?

Skillz offers a new way to monetize mobile gaming content that’s proven to be 5-20x more effective than traditional models. Legacy monetization models like interruptive advertising and in-game purchases can put developers at odds with players. Skillz enables developers to focus solely on what they love and do best: building great games.  Skillz helps indie developers build multi-million dollar franchises by enabling social competitions in their games. We provide an easily integrated solution with patented technology to rate players’ skills, ensure fair player matching, and protect against fraud and cheating. 

What kind of creativity and innovation is required for the mobile games market to become more accessible and enjoy sustainable long-term growth post-COVID-19?

The great news about mobile games is you can take them anywhere! If people sheltering in place discover a Skillz game they love playing, in all likelihood they will continue playing that game when they are back on the go. Most importantly, games are not specific to the traditional stereotype of “gamers” – in reality, everyone plays games. Our developer partners continue to inspire us with creative game concepts that expand the popularity of our platform. For instance, a recent hit game on Skillz reimagined Bingo and shot to the Top 25 in the App Store. 

Gaming Live Streaming Activity Balloons Amid Pandemic

Game live streaming activity has ballooned during the pandemic: on average, weekly viewers of live streams have increased by 70 percent year over year and watch time has increased by 35 percent year over year. That’s according to a report from Torque Esports, “Stream Hatchet Q1,” which explores COVID’s impact on streaming audiences including what gaming entertainment people are watching and how.

Gaming remains one of the world’s biggest entertainment platforms, with 4.9 billion hours of live-streamed content watched during Q1 2020, a 35 percent increase compared to 2019, according to the report.

As the coronavirus lockdown continues, the average viewers watching video game live streams have increased more than 100 percent in April.

Twitch still holds a majority of gaming platform market share; 65 percent of all gaming content is watched on Twitch, down from 76 percent in Q1 2019. This year’s viewers have watched over 15 percent more hours on Twitch.

YouTube Gaming has seen steady year over year growth, seizing 22 percent of the live stream market in Q1, up two percent year over year. Viewers watched 51 percent more gaming live streams on YouTube Gaming year over year.

Facebook has displayed the fastest growth, taking 11 percent of the gaming platform market share in Q1, up from no share in Q1 2019. Viewers watched a whopping 900 percent more gaming live streams on Facebook in Q1 2020.

In April, Facebook announced the early launch of its dedicated Android gaming app called Facebook Gaming, which features a “Go Live” feature that enables users to share gaming streams directly to their Facebook page. Facebook reportedly has 700 million monthly users engaging with gaming content.

Mixer’s numbers, however, have been dwindling, even despite Twitch mega-streamer Ninja joining the platform in October 2019. Mixer viewers watched eight percent less gaming streams in Q1.

In the first week of April, Riot Games released the closed beta of Valorant. Breaking live streaming records, the game amassed more than 323 million hours watched during its first four weeks of video game streaming—twice as many as Apex Legends, the second-largest launch in video game streaming. In its second week of streaming alone, Valorant generated 131 million hours watched, one million more hours watched than all the other top five games combined in their second week.

Esports racing content has also seen a massive spike in popularity during COVID, growing by nearly 1,000 percent in Q1. Audiences of racing games like iRacing and Formula 1 have increased from 700,000 to over 6.8 million in April year over year.“Do we expect some of these numbers to level off in the long run? Yes, but the interesting thing is that virtual sports content will be something that leagues will continue to investigate . . . We know this by the level of inquiry we’re receiving from brands, companies, publishers, and leagues,” said Stream Hatchet co-founder and CEO, Eduard Montserrat.

Social Distancing Campaign Picks: Week Of April 20th

What a crazy time to be a visual storyteller. We’re generally out in the world, surrounded by inspiration and bombarded by stimuli. Of course, we still have our devices, we still spend lots of time devouring news of the virus and we still binge an infinite number of great shows. Nevertheless, social isolation due to coronavirus is having an impact. Something very different is going on here that is akin to Thoreau separating from the world at Walden Pond to get to something deeper and more meaningful.

Throughout quarantine, I’ve been following brands that are trying to find an authentic and thoughtful way to connect with their audiences. What do you do when you can’t write a script, hire a director, put a crew together and go shoot and edit a story? You have to be open to exploring new ways to create moments for telling those stories. 

Here at Ayzenberg we’ve been on the R&D path since the very first week of the “lockdown” and are already pitching ideas to clients on how to adapt to this new reality. There are incredible opportunities to tell a story that is screaming to be told, one that is authentic and socially resonant.

Each week, I’ll be sharing my take on a few brands that have been brave enough to put something out there that really hits all the marks.

Ikea – Make Home Count

Ikea’s 55-second home-made spot celebrates “the simple joys that come with making home count,” spotlighting parents reading to their son, a woman watering her plans and a little boy sitting on his working-from-home dad’s lap. This was the first spot I encountered that really had a clear perspective on what we were all going through. I love how Ikea positioned the glass as half-full.

Why it matters: Right now, our heads can’t help but be filled with fear of the unknown and it’s so easy to let that consume us. Brands that focus on what’s really important—the things that make us who we are and our connection to the tribe—in such a poignant way will stand out amid the pandemic. It’s also a reminder that whatever you are doing today or tomorrow, to just make it count.

The details: I love that creative agency TBWA\Singapore asked their staffers to film themselves at home to capture all of these human moments and to showcase the fact that our homes have now become our playgrounds, our schools, our offices and all things in between.

Goodby Silverstein – Toilet Paper

In this video that advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners posted to its Instagram channel, staff are shown at home passing a roll of toilet paper to each other on a conference call, accompanied by the message, “Please don’t squeeze or hoard the Charmin. Pass it on!” Apparently the idea spawned from the way the agency was using video conferencing in a 5×5 grid to conduct their internal meetings. I also love that they used the Benny Hill theme song to give it it’s appropriate tongue-in-cheek tone. So fun!

Why it matters: For me, in its simplest form, this is a celebration of who we are as creatives and why what we do matters. Yes, the video was solely created as a morale booster for the agency, but the takeaway here for brands is to use a comedic vehicle to comment on what is happening in our world—in this case, people who panicked at the news of the lockdown and hoarded more toilet paper than needed. I doubt a toilet paper shortage is anything any of us have seen in our lifetime, so good on Goodby for entertaining us while landing an important messagedon’t just think of yourselves, be kind and share.

The details: As the father of two middle schoolers, I was amazed at how quickly and seamlessly we were all able to transition to work from home and school from home using video conferencing technologies. This piece showed up right as the toilet paper shortage issue was affecting everyone, and what’s really inspiring is that this team decided to use their video conferencing technology, while working from home, in a playful way to land the message that some things that we take for granted can easily take on new meaning in our lives. Hats off to ya’, Goodby!

Activista – Social Distancing And Classic Album Covers

After noticing people were ignoring stay-at-home orders amid coronavirus, founders of the agency Activista, Beto Fernandez and Paco Conde, redesigned vintage album covers to help enforce the safer-at-home message. The ensuing project, which they named 6 Feet Covers, displayed acts of social distancing through updating images that already resonate in popular culture. For example, they revamped Abbey Road to show all four Beatles spread out down the road instead of in the crosswalk together.

Why it matters
: Activista landed the stay-at-home message in a more personal way that highlighted the seriousness of staying inside—a balancing act marketers must achieve in today’s climate to ensure they’re showing consumers they’re doing their part to respond to the pandemic without being insensitive.

The details: I’m an unapologetic classic rock fan so I was instantly drawn to this work. Unable to create content from scratch, Activista took a very simple and artful approach to mirror the new normal and promote the important message of staying home to flatten the curve. Be it ‘The Beatles’’ Abbey Road or ‘KISS’’ Destroyer, these iconic images have been in my life for as long as I can remember. Seeing them now through the lens of proper social distancing protocols just nailed it for me. The power of Activista’s idea is that it carries that spirit forward into our current reality.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by

Podcast Ads Have More Pull Than Marketers Think

Seventy percent of frequent podcast listeners considered buying a new product or service after hearing about it on a podcast, according to a study from Edison Research and the PodcastOne, “Super Listeners Study.”

As podcast usage continues to rise, it’s important for marketers to know who they’re speaking to when advertising on podcasts. Here we’re breaking down the preferences of these super listeners and how podcasts influence these consumers’ buying behavior, according to the study’s findings.

Many podcasters are also cord-cutters as 79 percent of respondents regularly use streaming video services, followed by 63 percent who use internet-only music streaming services and 58 percent who use cable or satellite television. Forty-five percent of respondents said it’s very important that they watch or listen to a program whenever they want. Forty-nine percent said they have a paid subscription to an internet-only music streaming service, followed by 27 percent who have a paid subscription to an audiobook service. When asked what their primary reason is for having a paid audio listening subscription, 43 percent cited having more control over the content they’re listening to.

Podcast listeners are more attentive to ads heard on podcasts as 44 percent agree that they pay more attention to advertising on podcasts than on other forms of media. Thirty-seven percent said that podcast marketing is the best way for a brand to reach them. Although these super listeners generally avoid ads, they agree that podcast ads are an effective way to reach them.

In June, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) predicted that US podcast marketplace revenues will double by 2021, reaching $1 billion. While the number of people listening to podcasts as well as podcast marketing dollars are increasing, marketers should be selective about the podcast to advertise on. Only 16 percent of respondents strongly agree that the products and services they learn about on podcasts are generally relevant to them—that’s one percent less than for social media, which 17 percent said display products and services relevant to them. 

The advantage of podcasts is that listeners are more willing to consider products discovered there. Compared to other places where they might hear ads, 46 percent of respondents said they’re more likely to purchase a product after hearing about it via a podcast ad.

Findings are based on 1,032 online interviews conducted in February and March 2019, consisting of 56 percent men and 44 percent women, spanning all generations. All respondents reported listening to podcasts for at least five hours weekly.

Wendy’s Continues Quest To Attract Gamers, Becomes First Sponsor Of GIPHY Digital Arcade

Wendy’s launched three branded video games on Giphy’s new digital arcade, “GIPHY Arcade,” making it the first sponsor of the shareable micro-game platform. The branded games, which appear in a section called “Wendy’s World” on the arcade landing page, are nods to arcade favorites such as “Space Invaders” and “Breakout.”

Users can add creative touches to Wendy’s games in the arcade’s “REMIX” section, with the option of adding stickers and mixing and matching characters and music. On the arcade’s desktop version, players can choose from over 30 backgrounds and 20 different songs. Comparatively, the mobile version of the arcade creates a game based on a list of questions that users must answer. Integrated with Snapchat and Instagram, the GIPHY microgames can be shared with friends in messages and social media posts. Games from Wendy’s and NASA are among the first to be featured on the arcade’s home page.

The arcade also features premade games, formats of which are reminiscent of games of the past. Some games that users can play straight away include “Frankenstein Lives,” Big Mouth-inspired “Avoid Lola” and “Galactic Glutton.”

Wendy’s has seamlessly inserted itself into the gaming world through a variety of activations targeted towards gamers. With over 2.5 billion gamers across the world and mobile gaming growing 10.2 percent year-on-year to $68.5 billion, Wendy’s is playing its cards right. Earlier this year, the brand live-steamed its digital avatar on Twitch to promote a Baconfest initiative. Prior to that, Wendy’s launched a Twitch campaign called “Keeping Fortnite Fresh,” which led to a 119 percent increase in mentions of Wendy’s across its social media platforms. More recently, the brand introduced a Wendy’s-themed table-top role-playing game called “Feast of Legends,” available for free in PDF form online.

Warner Bros., Pinterest Partner On 360-Degree Campaign For ‘IT: Chapter Two’

Warner Bros. Entertainment partnered with Pinterest to launch a 360-degree experiential campaign for the launch of its horror movie IT: Chapter Two, released on September 6. The first of its kind for both companies, the campaign brought to life IT’s twisted funhouse at a Hollywood location that was open from August 15 to September 8. Free reservations to visit the funhouse, called “The IT Experience: Chapter Two,” booked up in minutes but guests were also able to gain entry via a stand-by line. 

For those who couldn’t experience the Los Angeles funhouse, Warner Bros. created a custom 360 scan in partnership with Pinterest and Matterport. The scan gave fans a glimpse of the real funhouse experience via a series of custom angles and clickable hotspots to explore all angles, from desktop and mobile. The digital experience features audio and immersing pinners who appear as though they’re actually standing in the town of Derry, where the movie takes place.

To access the 360 scan, Pinterest created a promoted video pin which pinners can tap from their feed and swipe up to experience the funhouse, with the added option of sharing it with friends.

The “IT Chapter Two Art Show,” an exclusive exhibition of fan art in Los Angeles, featured another campaign element to increase discovery. Outside the exhibition, Warner Bros. hung movie posters that included Pincodes that, when scanned, took gallery visitors to Pinterest boards containing digital versions of the art and behind-the-scenes videos of behind-the-scenes videos of the art making process.

Given that entertainment is one of Pinterest’s fastest-growing categories, it’s likely that Warner Bros. wanted to capture the attention of the platform’s 22 million users who engage specifically with horror movies. Currently, Pinterest has more than 11 million boards—like “Movies to see—”dedicated to movies. After seeing entertainment ads on Pinterest, 70 percent of Pinterest users took action by watching a new show or attending a movie, and two-thirds have discovered a new movie or show on Pinterest. The platform as a whole reaches 42 percent of people who saw a movie in theaters in the last six months and 56 percent of people who use streaming services.

Unexpected Brands Celebrate National Video Game Day With Tributes And Creativity

September 12 is National Video Game Day in the US, inspiring brands to celebrate with their audiences. Naturally, all the major players took advantage of the internet holiday to remind consumers of offerings and brand legacy. A few non-endemic brands joined in the fun too, using a mutual love of gaming to raise awareness or simply show solidarity with fans.

Arby’s: Choose Your Weapon

Arby’s has made a reputation on social media for its artistic prowess with cardboard food packaging. For Video Game Day, the restaurant covered an arcade gamepad with Arby’s branded cardboard and recreated weapons from various game franchises including Chun Li’s wrist spikes (Street Fighter), Lara Croft’s ice climbing axe (Tomb Raider), Sora’s Keyblade (Kingdom Hearts) and Ezio’s knife gauntlet (Assassin’s Creed).

Cartoon Network: Select Your Player

Cartoon Network created an 8-bit video game “screenshot” that allowed fans to imagine what a fighting game would be like using the brand’s characters. Audiences responded with their ideal “fighters” from shows like Steven Universe, Mao Mao, Teen Titans Go!, The Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time and more, although several pointed out the absence of OK K.O. Let’s be Heroes!, a cartoon based in a world heavily inspired by video games.

Red Bull: Fruit Ninja Parody

Okay, Krav Maga isn’t Ninjitsu, but technically, neither is slicing fruit with a katana. Red Bull, ever-present in the video game scene, posted a video of a man’s impressive Krav Maga skills superimposed with graphics from the popular game Fruit Ninja.

The brand immediately made fun of itself for capitalizing on the internet holiday, linking to the Reddit thread “fellow kids,” so named after a meme of Steve Bushimi attempting to pass himself off as a teenager.

Honda: 30 Years And Going

Honda wanted to remind gamers that its vehicles have been recreated in video games for over 30 years. The brand is also active in esports, sponsoring Team Liquid and becoming the exclusive automotive partner of the League of Legends Championship Series.

To celebrate its gaming legacy, Honda released a video highlighting vehicles going back to the 1996 Civic Ferio.

Faygo: Cap-Man

Soft drink company Faygo paid tribute to classic arcade games with a parody of Pac-Man called Cap-Man. The image recreated the iconic Pac-Man game board, replacing ghosts and power-ups with Faygo products.

Internet Holidays: A Marketing Playground

It’s not just you, everyday seems to be a hashtag holiday on social media. That’s because savvy social brands choose their participation wisely—sharing tributes, jokes and promotions that align with its core values and online persona.

Other recent examples include Werther’s life-sized Candyland game board for #CaramelDay and Heinz’s “fruit or vegetable” debate for National Tomato Day. Other brands have taken to creating their own internet holidays such as Netflix’s #StrangerThingsDay and Pabst Blue Ribbon’s National Mural Day.

Sky Television Campaign Transforms Bus Shelters Into Virtual Sports Arenas

New Zealand-operated Sky Television Network is transforming bus shelters across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch into immersive mini sports arenas to give sports fans the experience of a front row stadium seat on the street.

Nine bus shelters will be designed with a complete panorama wrap and custom seat installations, tailored to each city. Each bus shelter site was hand-selected to ensure high foot traffic and daily traffic visual counts, with a projected 300,000 views across all locations.

Sky’s aim is to promote its sports streaming services in a way that will leave a lasting impression on riders. The television platform’s efforts are in part due to the 50 percent increase it received in streaming customers over the last year leading to 16 percent growth in streaming and commercial revenues in FY2019. Sky TV also recently launched the Sky Sport Now app and Sky Sport News service and introduced 12 high definition channels on Sky Sport. In August, over a million New Zealanders engaged with Sky services when the Bledisloe Cup match aired, including 55,000 on the platform’s streaming services. 

“Taking well-known aspects of our favorite sports and placing them in everyday moments is our way of showing Kiwis that Sky is an indispensable part of any sports lover’s life,” said chief marketing officer for Sky TV, Steve Bayliss. 

The campaign is running now through the end of September.
Sky TV’s large-scale out-of-home (OOH) initiative comes after an Australian ad spend study from oOh!media found that return on investment (ROI) more than doubles when television and OOH are part of the campaign media mix. The data show that campaigns with more than six percent of their media spend in OOH saw a 57 percent ROI while those who spent under only received a 41 percent ROI. To achieve optimum campaign results, a mix of digital and OOH are needed.

Marketer’s Guide To Esports Competitions (Part 2)

Originally published at AW360 by Angel Mendoza.

The world of esports competitions is host to a variety of games for different types of players. Some of these games, like League of Legends Dota 2, are immensely popular, and their competitions have documentaries made about them for TBS or Netflix. For people even vaguely aware of esports competitions, these games immediately come to mind.

But like kingdoms, game franchises rise and fall. Most games decline in popularity or take time to grow, building infrastructure and supporting an ever-expanding community of players.

Part one examined some of the kings of the esports industry. This article, on the other hand, will look at some other games which, while popular, are still finding their places as competitive esports.

What To Consider Before Partnering

In part one, we looked at five key factors in making sponsorship decisions, which were simplified to infrastructureformatsaudienceaccessibility, and brand fit. For a more in-depth look into these, see part one in this article series.

To summarize the points in that article, before a brand decides to sponsor a game competition, the brand should consider:

  1. Infrastructure: How well-supported and established the competition and game franchise are. Can the organizers provide in-depth, reliable, and accurate data on the performance of and audience for their competitions? Can they support large audiences?
  2. Formats: What advertising opportunities do brands have? How can brands best advertise to audiences without disrupting viewing experiences?
  3. Audience: Who’s watching events? What is a brand’s target audience? Finding common ground between these two audiences while targeting the right streaming platforms is key. Alternatively, brands can consider live audiences, if applicable.
  4. Accessibility: Can events appeal to casual viewers or people who know next to nothing about the games?
  5. Brand Fit: Does the sponsorship align with a brand’s positioning? Can a brand offer a product to esports viewers that will resonate with them?

With that overview out of the way, here are some esports competitions that are developing and becoming more mainstream.

Growing Leagues And Tournaments


Fortnite: Battle Royale might have made waves with its 2017 debut, rapidly becoming a phenomenon, but its position in competitive esports is still fairly new.

Epic earlier announced that it would be directing $100 million toward competitive esports, and so far, this money has been put into a variety of competitions, with 2019’s World Cup distributing a total $30 million prize pool, the Summer Skirmish Series awarding a total $8 million prize pool, and the Fall Skirmish Series awarding a $10 million total prize pool.

These can all be considered initial efforts in developing a larger league infrastructure, something which Epic seems to still be fleshing out. Epic only this March added the Arena mode, which allows players to compete against each other for placement in official events.

However, Epic and Fortnite have made big strides forward in their advancement of esports. The former commissioner of the Overwatch League, Nate Nanzer, recently left his position to oversee Fortnite esports. Fortnite’s new Champions Series looks like another stride forward, though details on that have yet to emerge.

Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS)

The esports infrastructure for Rocket League, another massively popular game from the past five years, is also still developing.

The Rocket League Championship Series began in 2016 as a collaboration between Psyonix and Twitch. At first, Twitch gained exclusive broadcasting rights of Rocket League competitive events while aiding in the growth of Rocket League’s competitive infrastructure and community.

This collaboration has since dissolved, however, with Psyonix moving its esports management in-house. Although Twitch still managed sponsorships and ad sales for Rocket League at first, Psyonix made a deal with Turner Sports’s ELEAGUE early this year, with ELEAGUE now handling both advertising and sponsorships, among other things.

Following that, Epic Games acquired Rocket League and Psyonix. Epic has been pretty quiet following the acquisition, with Rocket League’s season 7 championship series taking place in late June, but more developments are sure to come.

Rainbow Six Pro League

Rainbow Six: Siege is an unusual story in the esports industry, and the existence of a Rainbow Six Pro League at all is perhaps a testament to Ubisoft’s tenacity, given the cancellation of the previous installment. Rainbow Six: Siege is another addition in the more-than-a-dozen game franchise, Rainbow Six, which began with Tom Clancy’s novel in 1998. What’s even more unusual is that Siege was envisioned as the reboot to the franchise, yet even following awards and praise quickly lost steam.

Only when Siege responded to its strongest criticism–an overall lack of content in its initial release–did it pick itself up and gain a strong following. Almost three years after its release, Rainbow Six: Siege continues to add content for players, keeping itself fresh and relevant.

Rainbow Six’s Pro League began in 2017, hosted by ESL in association with Ubisoft. The league includes four region divisions, representing Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. Initially divided into four seasons per year, the Pro League shifted to two seasons of six months each starting in 2018. Following those two seasons, players compete in the Six Invitational, Rainbow Six’s most prestigious tournament.

In 2018, Ubisoft announced the Rainbow Six Pilot Program, a partnership program which would give select teams a cut of the revenue from sales of in-game cosmetics. The goal is to make competition more sustainable for players.

Evolution Championship Series (Evo)

The Evolution Championship Series stands out from other tournaments in many ways. For one, Evo isn’t dedicated to one game franchise, instead, including a variety of competitive fighting games. Evo also predates the major esports boom of the last decade, first appearing in 1996, well before Twitch or YouTube came on the scene. Finally, Evo is not an event players qualify for–it’s completely open to the public, taking place annually in the Las Vegas and drawing in players from around the world. Evo is considered the largest and most prestigious fighting game tournament in the world.

Each player pays a $10 entry fee, with players competing in an array of different fighting game tournaments. The entry fees then together form the prize pool, with first place receiving half of the total money, and seven more players receiving a proportionate amount based on their placement.

Evo 2019 featured Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Street Fighter V Arcade Edition, Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat 11, Soulcalibur VI, Dragon Ball FighterZ, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, Samurai Shodown and Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st]It drew in more than 9000 entrants, over 3500 of which entered to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This made Evo 2019 the largest Super Smash Bros. competitive event of all time.

Although data has not been released for Evo 2019, Evo 2018 generated 5.2 million hours of Twitch and YouTube viewership, an increase of more than 24 percent from its previous year.

Looking Ahead

Esports competitions represent an array of unique and diverse opportunities for brands. While many of these competitions are still building and establishing themselves, even different types of competitions like Evo, which aren’t exclusive and don’t offer the same opportunities as some of the major competitions covered in the last article, can still be boons to brands.

For one, a growing competition might offer a trust or intimacy that a larger competitive event might not, allowing brands a closer connection to audiences. Some competitive events, like Evo, also offer a rare niche in the esports industry, striking a chord with casual audiences and retro fans, even if they don’t offer the same kinds of immediate returns.

Most of these events show positive trends for the esports industry however, as more competitive events and game franchises seek to encourage competitive play by offering larger prize pools, as well as through other incentives such as Rainbow Six’s Pilot Program. By turning even microtransactions into net positives, giving the money back to competitive players and communities, companies have shown a degree of ingenuity, even turning that element into something which might not cause controversy at the same scale.

Ultimately though, as before, brands should consider what benefits their brand strategies and image while helping their bottom line. Gamers are savvy audiences, and while marketing to them can often be challenging, they know how to follow brands in ways that other demographics might not, engaging online and through social media. What matters is having an actionable product that translates to esports audiences.

With part one covering some of the most prolific competitions in the esports space, and part two covering competitions still establishing themselves or taking a different approach, part three will examine some of the newest competitions in the esports industry.

(This article originally appeared on Simplepixel)

Twitch Expands Traditional Sports Partnership With Immersive Lounge In Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium

Twitch announced it’s teaming up with the Raiders as a founding partner to launch Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, scheduled to be completed in 2020. The new home of Raider Nation, Allegiant Stadium will feature a Twitch-branded lounge that incorporates Twitch’s live streaming capabilities and active community into a variety of experiential events. 

The lounge will be replete with immersive features for visitors including streamer stations and Twitch viewing screens. Future Twitch activations will also take place at the Twitch lounge and will include top-billed sporting events, esports competitions and concerts.

The partnership is part of the video streaming platform’s long-term vision for multiplayer and esports entertainment. In 2016, Twitch became the official sponsor sales representative of professional esports teams Cloud9 and Team SoloMid. The partnership gives the brands exclusive access to large advertising inventory available on Twitch. 

“Esports fans make up an enormous audience that’s deeply desirable to brands–and extremely difficult to reach through traditional advertising channels. Leveraging our sales expertise to ensure that non-gaming brands enter the space in a meaningful way is a decisive first step toward that necessity,” Twitch’s vice president and commercial director for esports, Kristen Salvatore, previously told AList.

In 2018, G2 esports signed a multi-year exclusive partnership with Twitch that made it so Twitch is the only live-streaming platform to cover all G2 esports teams and players. 

Twitch was recently named the exclusive streaming partner of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). Beginning October 5, for the next three years, Twitch will stream the league’s regular season, Isobel Cup Playoff and special event games. c players and the league will split revenue from the agreement 50/50.