September 3, 2020

Today’s Industry Updates

CANADIAN COMPANIES
  • FansUnite Entertainment Launches US Expansion with GameCo LLC – FansUnite Entertainment Inc. (CSE:FANS) (OTC Pink:FUNFF) (“FansUnite” or the “Company”), a technology company providing leading online gaming solutions, is pleased to announce that its wholly owned subsidiary Askott Entertainment has signed a partnership agreement with Las Vegas based GameCo LLC, a pioneer in skill based iGaming products (“GameCo”). The partnership will introduce Askott Entertainments esports iGaming platform, Chameleon, to the US regulated market. GameCo holds gaming licenses in almost thirty jurisdictions including, New Jersey and Nevada in the United States. Askott Entertainment will leverage this US license infrastructure by enabling GameCo to become an official reseller of the Chameleon esports betting platform to new and existing partners which will include U.S based casino operators.

GAMING
  • VENN Founders Are Playing to Win With Gaming Lifestyle Streaming Channel – Call it Food Network or HGTV for the Twitch generation. Ariel Horn and Ben Kusin are the co-founders and co-CEOs of VENN, the fledgling ad-supported streaming service that hopes to be a live entertainment destination for video game enthusiasts, casual and otherwise. Horn and Kusin detail the vision and planning for VENN on the latest episode of Variety’s weekly podcast “Strictly Business.” The pair cites the familiar statistics about the explosive growth of gaming as an entertainment pursuit that has blossomed into a $150 billion industry, with plenty of expansion on the horizon. Although a linear live feed of programming with commercials embedded would seem out of step with the way younger consumers are consuming content, Horn and Kusin see an opening for a lifestyle-oriented programs that are available wherever the target audience is.
  • What can the games industry learn from Netflix and Spotify? – Subscriptions are nothing new to the games industry. From the monthly fees for classic MMOs to the service charge for multiplayer games through PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, players are accustomed to making regular payments to access video games. But in terms of subscribing to a library of content — a model that has come to dominate all other forms of entertainment — it can feel like the games industry is playing catch-up. Yes, PlayStation Now has been available since 2014, but it’s arguably been the rise of Xbox Game Pass that has really drawn attention to how this form of subscription can work in games.
  • Epic Games vs. Apple — the legal issues – As the legal wrangling between Fortnite maker Epic Games continues to spiral, both companies’ public relations teams are working overtime. Through dueling social media posts, parody videos, and plenty of grandstanding, Apple and Epic are working hard to sway gamers to their respective sides. But whose side is the law on? That, of course, is a matter for the court to decide, but we can gain some insight into how the ruling may play out by examining regulatory rulings from previous, similar cases. In its original complaint dated August 13, Epic stated: “Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly…”

CONTENT CREATORS & INFLUENCERS
  • FaZe Clan, Twitch Team up for All-Star Twitch Rivals Event – On Sept. 17, Twitch and FaZe Clan are partnering with Twitch Rivals that bring some of the most popular streamers together to face off against professional athletes inside of Call of Duty: Warzone. “Twitch Rivals: FaZe Face-Off featuring Warzone,” the first in a series of events hosted by the two organizations will feature popular streamers, sports stars, and entertainment personalities including Yousef “Apex” Abdelfattah, Brian “Rug” Awadis, Thomas “Temperrr” Oliveira, Nick “NICKMERCS” Kolcheff, Kris “Swagg” Lamberson, Ali “SypherPK“ Hassan, Mason “Symfuhny” Lanier, Vikram “Vikstar” Singh Barn, and Aydan “Aydan” Conrad, along with Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Josh Hart (New Orleans Pelicans), Meyers Leonard (Miami Heat), Allie Long (OL Reign), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), and Tarik Cohen (Chicago Bears).
  • Twitch Continues Expansion Beyond Gaming with Global Roll Out of Watch Parties – While Facebook continues to push its Watch video platform in the hope of taking a bigger share of the digital video pie, gamer-focused platform Twitch is also looking to expand on its content options, as it grows its audience, and broadens its potential. Over the past year, Twitch has seen a significant rise in its ‘Just Chatting’ channels, which see popular streamers interacting with fans, without gaming. Just Chatting streams now rival its biggest gaming categories, while Twitch also signed a deal in June to stream Premier League games in the UK, moving from virtual sports into real matches. And now, Twitch is adding another ‘beyond gaming’ option, with the full launch of its Watch Parties, which enable users to stream selected movie and TV content that can be viewed with their fans.
  • StreamElements announces winners of $100,000 diversity fund to bolster minorities on Twitch – StreamElements, a company that offers streaming tools, has announced the recipients of its $100,000 diversity fund, a program to bolster underrepresented voices on Twitch including people of color, LGBTQ, streamers with disabilities and more. Each winner, among a group of 20 different streamers, will receive $5,000 worth of support in mentorship, graphics and production. Recipients also receive an Arctis 1 Wireless Gaming Headset. “Between covid-19 and my recent diagnosis of Charcot-Marie-Tooth [a degenerative nerve condition], my career changed drastically,” said Ellie Belleview, 30, one of the winners known as 3llebelle on Twitch. “Shifting to full-time content creation is much more expensive than you might think. This program helps support that.”

ESPORTS
  • Call of Duty League Championship Match Breaks Viewership Record – The Call of Duty League broke its season-long viewership record for Sunday’s championship match, which saw the Dallas Empire defeat the Atlanta FaZe, and the Activision Blizzard property says the game became the most-watched Call of Duty esports match of all time. CDL says that Sunday’s match had an average minute audience of 206K, including viewers from the Call of Duty League YouTube channel, which is a record for the league. Peak concurrent viewership was around 330K viewers, including influencers who were streaming the event from their own YouTube channel, beating the prior record of 156K that was set the prior weekend for a Chicago Huntsmen–Optic Gaming L.A. match.
  • ESL joins forces with NetEase for Marvel Super War esports – ESL Australia, the Australian branch of tournament organiser ESL, has entered a partnership with Chinese internet technology company NetEase. The partnership will see both parties collaborate on mobile MOBA title Marvel Super War, which recently released in Australia and New Zealand. ESL will operate two online tournaments as part of the launch of MARVEL Super War in Australia, while NetEase will provide dedicated Australian servers to provide the best online experience possible for players to compete on. Ben Green, Publisher Development Lead at ESL, commented on the collaboration: “To be able to collaborate with NetEase on such a well-known IP is a massive opportunity for us here at ESL. We are aiming to fill in the gaps in the mobile esports ecosystem that may have previously been missing, and are giving players across all platforms the opportunity to get their start in mobile esports.”
  • Three separate bans levied against MIBR CS:GO team manager and coach – ESL, Beyond the Summit and the Esports Integrity Commission levied three separate bans against MIBR team manager and coach Ricardo “dead” Sinigaglia this week regarding the alleged use of a spectator bug for a competitive advantage within Counter-Strike: Global Offensive during two matches in April and June. On Monday, ESL banned dead from coaching or competing in ESL competitions for six months, with ESIC making a recommendation on Wednesday to all non-ESIC members — such as Flashpoint — to honor a six-month ban as well. ESL also banned Heroic coach Nicolai “HUNDEN” Petersen for 12 months and Hard Legion coach Aleksandr “MechanoGun” Bogatiryev for 24 months for the use of the same bug during the ESL One: Road to Rio and DreamHack Masters Spring events.

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