September 1, 2020

Today’s Industry Updates

CANADIAN COMPANIES
  • Collegiate StarLeague Expands 2020-2021 Season Offering to Include Women’s League – Collegiate StarLeague announced Monday its 2020-2021 season, marking the organization’s 12th year of operation, and has expanded its offering to include a new Women’s League program. The collegiate esports organizer will offer competitions across multiple major esports titles including League of Legends, VALORANT, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Fortnite. Many of these titles have existing women’s esports initiatives. CS:GO has arguably the most robust women’s competitive ecosystem, with multiple professional organizations fielding all-women rosters including Dignitas and Counter Logic Gaming.
  • PopReach Announces the Grant of Stock Options to Independent Directors – PopReach Corporation (“PopReach” or the “Company”), a free-to-play mobile game publisher focused on acquiring and optimizing proven game franchises, announced that on August 26, 2020, its Board of Directors granted options to acquire an aggregate 650,000 shares to certain independent directors of the Company.  All of the options are exercisable at $1.00 (being the closing price of the Company’s shares on August 25, 2020), vest on the first anniversary of the grant, and have a five year term.

GAMING
  • Leyou Technologies confirms ongoing acquisition talks with Tencent – Tencent has been confirmed as the potential buyer for Chinese games firm Leyou Technologies. The games giant was among several interested parties, including mobile publisher iDreamSky, Leyou rival Zhejiang Century Huatong Group and reportedly Sony Corporation. Leyou has since announced that it is in exclusive talks with Tencent subsidiary Tencent Mobility. Discussions began on July 10 and have been structured as such that Leyou will only be talking about a potential acquisition with Tencent. The talks will last three months, now approaching the final month, but can be called off early if both parties agree there will be no sale.
  • PlayStation plans to ‘accelerate the rollout’ of first-party games – In a report released on Friday, the firm said more frequent and higher quality exclusive titles will be key to its future success amid increased competition in the marketplace. “Competition from online PC games and players from other industries is expected to continue to intensify,” the company wrote. In order to continue growing the PlayStation business, “SIE intends to make proactive investments to reinforce content IP, and work to raise brand value, foster communities and user engagement, while enhancing direct to consumer services that get closer to users”. Sony continued: “To reinforce content IP, SIE will accelerate the enhancement and rollout of its portfolio of exclusive PlayStation titles.”
  • What hypercasual mobile game publishers look for in developers – Hypercasual games exploded onto the scene three years ago, growing into one of the largest mobile gaming categories in terms of installs. Nearly 80% of install growth in the mobile gaming market came from hypercasual games in 2019. In the same year, 87 new hypercasual titles succeeded in breaking into and maintaining a place in the top ten for half a month, ten times higher than any other genre. However, the market has become more competitive and saturated, and newcomers are increasingly turning to partnerships with publishers to turn their game concepts into marketable, profitable products.

CONTENT CREATORS & INFLUENCERS
  • Ninja, MrBeast, Aim Lab and G2 Esports win Fall Guys costumes in charity contest – A charity auction organized by Fall Guys developer Mediatonic ended Monday with a $1 million joint bid by content creators Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, esports organization G2 Esports and first-person shooter training program Aim Lab. Ninja, MrBeast, G2 and Aim Lab’s combined bid will bring four new costumes Fall Guys designed around the winning contributors. Their $1 million contribution will benefit U.K.-based gaming-focused charity SpecialEffect.
  • Shroud’s historic Twitch return makes him fastest-growing streamer – Michael ‘shroud’ Grzesiek returned to Twitch after a post-Mixer vacation and the legendary FPS player and streamer has been rewarded by over 1 million new followers, giving him, by far, the platform’s fastest-growing channel. Shroud joined Ninja by accepting a multi-million-dollar contract to exclusively stream on Mixer in December 2019. Eight months later, Mixer folded, and the two walked away with fatter bank accounts. According to reports, shroud’s contract was worth $30 million, causing speculation over his next deal. Now, after a light vacation, he’s back on Twitch and early statistics prove him to be the platform’s fastest-growing streamer by a very wide margin.
  • Rolling Loud Will Air Virtual Music Festivals Exclusively on Twitch – Video game streaming company Twitch has secured its latest victory in its ongoing push into the music industry, announcing a content partnership with hip-hop festival Rolling Loud on Monday. Rolling Loud will air three virtual music festivals exclusively on Twitch, which the organization is calling “Loud Streams.” The first of the three will air on September 12th and 13th, and the full lineup will be announced September 8th. Rolling Loud will also air various podcasts and streams on Twitch for weekly content.

ESPORTS
  • Call of Duty League to Wait Until 2022 Before Expansion – The Call of Duty League will not pursue expansion in 2021 according to a report by ESPN Esports. Following initial reporting by Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern that the league has seen interest from prospective buyers in expansion franchises, ESPN’s Jacob Wolf writes that the league hopes to showcase its original city-based event model, which was forced to shift away from live events this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following a year of city-based competition in 2021, the league will look to expand in 2022, and will likely seek a higher sum from expansion franchises than the $25M USD buy-in for the inaugural 12 teams. Additionally, the CDL today revealed that Season 2, which will be played on the next iteration of the CoD franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, will return the esport to a four-versus-four competition model.
  • Nerd Street and Spectacor to host all-women’s VALORANT tournament – Nerd Street Gamers and Spectacor Gaming, the gaming division of Comcast NBCUniversal, will host an all-women’s VALORANT tournament on Sept. 12 called the FTW Summer Showdown. The event will feature eight women’s VALORANT teams, with a qualifier set to take place on Sept. 5. The tournament will have a $10,000 prize pool, with sponsors for the event including G FUEL and T1, the pro esports team co-owned by Spectacor Gaming. Nerd Street and T1 previously hosted an Ignition Series event for VALORANT in June called the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown, which featured some of the top professional teams in the game.
  • Major Stakeholders in the Philippines Esports Ecosystem Unite Under PeSO – Major stakeholders and organizations in the Philippines have announced a strategic partnership to work under the umbrella of the esports federation, the Philippine Esports Organization (PeSO). PeSO members include Mineski Philippines, Bren Esports, Gariath Concepts, PlayBook Esports, Tier One Entertainment, TNC Philippine Holdings, The Nationals, Smart Communications, and TV5. PeSo has technically existed for many years and has been accredited since 2012 as a “respectful member in good standing” with the International Esports Federation.

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