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16 Dec 18
VentureBeat
Monetizing esports is still a work in progress. The idea of watching people get paid to play games seemed far-fetched not long ago. But market researcher Newzoo estimates that 165 million esports enthusiasts are now watching esports, with that number expected to reach 250 million by 2021. Occasional viewers will drive those numbers to 557 million by 2021. That means that esports has a huge chance to surpass both the revenues and the viewership for traditional sports — if only the teams, leagues, broadcasters, streaming companies, and video game publishers can figure out the best business models for monetization. We talked about this challenge in a recent webinar on esports monetization. Our expert panelists included Jonathan Singer, industry strategist at Akamai; Robb Chiarini, director of esports at Ubisoft; and Kent Wakeford, chief operating officer at Gen.G, an esports organization. Esports has many different avenues for driving revenue. Those include advertising, sponsorship, merchandising, ticket sales, concessions at events, media rights, streaming videos, and prize money. There are many ways to innovate across all of those categories. The session was moderated by VentureBeat’s Rachael Brownell and me. It was sponsored by Akamai. Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation. Kent Wakeford of Gen.G speaks at GamesBeat Summit in April, 2018. Dean Takahashi: We have a great panel here today to talk about esports and monetization. I’ll ask our panels to introduce themselves a bit first. Let’s start with Jonathan, from Akamai. Jonathan Singer: I’m our gaming industry strategist, which means I get to talk about video games all day, which is pretty cool. At Akamai we secure and deliver fantastic digital experiences for the world’s top brands. We were instrumental in helping the video game industry move from physical to digital distribution as the primary model of game distribution. That’s the quick rundown on Akamai and myself. Robb Chiarini: I’m director of esports at Ubisoft. I’ve been there for five years now. I’ve had a great career in video games with Blizzard before that, IGN before that. I’m a community guy that’s done this for a very long time, long before we had the term “esports.” I’m an evangelist about esports. Anything I can do to help the ecosystem. I’m super excited to talk about this today. Kent Wakeford: I’m co-founder of Gen.G Esports. Gen.G is a global esports company that owns and operates seven esports teams, including the Seoul Dynasty in the Overwatch League. We have the 2017 world championship League of Legends team, a two-time world championship Heroes of the Storm team, a championship PUBG team, our Clash Royale team in China, which plays in Shanghai, as well as our newly announced Fortnite team, which trains and plays in the U.S. Newzoo sees live esports viewership growing for some big events. Takahashi: Everybody’s here because we all know esports is a big deal. Compare that to where it was just two, three years ago. Newzoo, the market researcher, anticipates that esports is going to be a $1.7 billion industry by 2021. The excitement around deals is all over the place. I happen to be writing esports stories every week, if not a few times a week these days. Since we’re VentureBeat, we’ll go straight to the money talk here. Kent, what are the current esports revenue models, and where is the bulk of the revenue coming from today? Wakeford: If you think about esports at the league and the team level, the easy analogy is with traditional sports. Let me start with an analogy to the 2018 World Series, Boston Red Sox and LA Dodgers, and the 2018 League of Legends world championship, with China’s Invictus and Europe’s Fnatic. If we think about revenue coming out of these games, we can start with media rights as the first pillar, which we know is the big revenue driver for traditional sports. In the World Series we had Fox as the broadcaster. The World Series had about 14.3 million average viewers for the games. Compare that to League of Legends. Their broadcast rights are more on digital streaming platforms like Twitch, with worldwide viewership of 78.5 million. Media rights is a key and dominant revenue driver, both in traditional sports as we’ve seen, and now quickly gaining in esports, because of the massive viewership. That’s number one. Number two, you see live events. Going back to the analogy of the World Series versus the League of Legends world championships, live events, sold-out stadiums—for League of Legends it was in Korea. For the World Series it was New York and Boston. But you have tens of thousands of people buying live tickets, concessions, and everything else. Then you get to sponsorship. Sponsorship is a big, big area of growth for esports. You’re seeing, at the league level, great brands coming into esports like Toyota and T-Mobile and others. On the team level you’re seeing big brands, both endemic brands and non-endemic brands, coming in and sponsoring teams and players. So you have media rights, sponsorship, and live events. Merchandise is another big area. You’re starting to see that grow. There are some great esports teams doing a great job, whether that’s 100 Thieves or Fnatic. And then the last area – and this is revenue that ultimately flows down mainly to the players – is prize winnings. Whether it’s the player pool for the World Series that goes to the players, or the prize pools for League of Legends or DOTA or any other games, that money flows to the teams, and the majority ultimately goes to the players. From a revenue perspective, media, sponsorship, live events, merchandise, and prize winnings are the pillars. The biggest revenue driver to the leagues, currently, is media rights. What we’re seeing today is that the largest revenue driver for the teams is sponsorship revenue. Rob Chiarini, director of esports at Ubisoft. Takahashi: Robb, I guess we shouldn’t forget that sales of games going directly to game publishers is a big part of this too. Chiarini: Yeah, exactly that. When we look at esports in the current revenue models, as he mentioned, we look at a lot at traditional sports. I’d always say to look at traditional entertainment, too. Look at TV shows. At the end of the day, esports itself is a viewership phenomenon. There are players and all these mechanics within it, but it’s no different from actors and players in other sports. We all agree that the viewership is what’s super impressive. From viewership you get merchandise, people viewing and traveling and spending. That’s where you get the buying power for sponsors and others. On top of that, for us, when we compare ourselves to traditional sports—traditional sports had to go this rate. If you’ve ever heard me talk about these things, I talk about how traditional sports have to sell media rights. They have to have sponsors. They have to have advertisers. They have to have all this influx of money, because they don’t have anything, at the end of the day. They don’t own the ball. You and I could start up a new football league tomorrow if we wanted to and no one can stop us from using that sport as a vehicle for a program. We’d get our own sponsors, do our own things, and we could do anything we wanted. Nobody owns the IP of the football. With video games, we’re in a very different place, in that we can look at things differently if we choose to. As many esports start up, they look at it going, hey, this is a marketing a vehicle, a messaging vehicle, an engagement vehicle, a community retention and engagement vehicle, rather than a P&L against a thing to provide an entertainment that creates profit. For us, owning the game gives us the opportunity that every activity we do, every dollar we spend on an esport, is actually a way for us to engage with our existing communities, create viewership, create playership, create opportunities for monetization within the game and on the game itself. All of that is super interesting. I believe esports has the biggest leg up against traditional sports in that way. Adding to that—I agree with your list, merch and media rights and things. There are some other things that are interesting. Gambling is out there in the space, not that I’m a proponent or otherwise, but that’s a revenue stream that’s out there in the world. Fantasy leagues, gambling sites, things like that. Another thing we do in esports, or in gaming in general, is interactive money. When you look at things like Twitch Bits and things of that nature that allow people to purchase around the game, that’s different from the traditional sports. That’s another revenue opportunity within the ecosystem, and for all of gaming. Takahashi: A lot of influencers out there are making a lot of money from esports-related live streams and other things. Chiarini: I go back to the drops and items and things inside the game, different layers of monetization. We’d categorize that underneath gaming. But there’s the whole other platform life. Twitch Bits is a good example, an external currency that’s involved in the ecosystem. Somebody is spending to do things with that. Subscriptions are subscriptions. Move that to one side. It doesn’t matter if you subscribe to Netflix, which is a very strong competitor to esports. Anything that takes eyeballs away from something else is a competitor. Not everyone looks at it that way, but I think gaming companies, esports companies, everyone of us is an entertainment medium and we should look at all of those spaces as potential threats. Subscription models are just another source of revenue. Sponsorship is the biggest source of revenue for esports in 2018. Jonathan Singer: I have a little bit of a bomb to throw, which I feel is a good way to start off a panel. [laughs] That is, we talk about where the revenue is growing to. I think it’s supposed to be $904 million this year and then a billion soon enough, with 380 million global viewers. That’s a nice size of audience. But when you do the division there, you’re talking about $2.60 a user. If you look at the companies that are coming in, you have all the big names in video games. You have big names from outside. Again, this is VentureBeat, so people are worried about the money. Is that enough money to go around? It’s not a lot of money yet. I know we’re growing as an industry, but when we’re talking about revenue models, you have to talk about how we’re getting there and how we get—everyone’s fighting for a slice of that pie. Wakeford: I think what you just framed up is one of the most exciting opportunities in esports. Goldman Sachs had a report recently where they showed that the average esports consumer monetized to about $3.94. Whereas the average consumer in traditional sports is monetizing to about $54. That means there’s a 10X opportunity within the esports market to grow and build those connections with fans, to bring them things they’re willing to pay for, for their excitement and their fandom and their engagement with teams and players. I view that as an opportunity. When I look at the revenue growth drivers in esports, I think they’re all way under what the reality is going to be. We see it in the viewership. We see what’s happening on a global basis with stadiums being built all around the world – in the U.S., in China, in Korea. We see brand sponsors coming in. We see bigger media rights deals happening. We see merchandise. We just saw the announcement with the Overwatch League and Fnatic doing merchandise. It’s moving at a much faster speed than a lot of the industry reports have been putting out. That’s the opportunity. That’s why you see so much capital coming into esports. Chiarini: When we talk about esports, we’re comparing this giant macro of a term, across a huge industry, multiple titles, multiple games, multiple sports if you will. It’s a gigantic term we use to encompass everything. Different publishers, different games, different titles, these are all different points along that cycle. Some further along, some back behind. Some new, some starting, some growing. It’s not equal across the board. We’re talking from a very macro view. I think that’s important, because I know some of the people watching are new to esports and trying to understand that. It encompasses so much when we talk about esports as a class. Takahashi: There are definitely winners and losers already at this stage in the game. Everyone saw the news that the H1Z1 league shut down in mid-season. Chiarini: I would never say that there are necessarily losers. Again, it’s a strategy. Esports itself might not meet certain games and certain appetites for different things. They might feel that some other marketing strategy or activity that they’re doing is more beneficial and this isn’t proving out the results that they want. It’s tough. What scope works for your game at that time, and things change. Singer: Kent’s response was pitch perfect. What I was looking to get at, when you talk about the difference between the ARPPUs for esports and for traditional sports–when you look at the demographics, if you look at baseball in the U.S., the bulk of their demographic is over 55 years old. Versus esports, it’s millennials and Gen Z. You need to think about — we’ll get to that in the next question as well — engagement, and how you’re engaging with them from a technological standpoint, because these are the digital natives everyone in advertising has been talking about for years. How are they going to interact with esports? Where are they going to interact with esports? What do they expect from their viewing experience? That’s where you see, as we move from traditional revenue models around the base that traditional sports built to future interesting revenue models Robb alluded to with perks and in-game currency, to other ways of interacting with fans. That’s my point I want to make until we get to the next question. Female esports players are on the rise. Takahashi: That’s a good point. The perks part of streams, tips that happen in those streams, those are things that don’t happen in the traditional sports revenue picture. That’s something interesting about how much more digital the esports infrastructure is. Chiarini: You brought up age, the 55-year-old average age of baseball viewers. All of our esports fans are growing older too. As they mature and raise families on esports, just like previous generations did on baseball–not that I’m saying baseball is going away, but we’re starting to see legacy now like traditional sports have had. Your parents may have been sports fans, so they took you to games and you became a fan. We’re seeing that same thing happen with esports. Even for us, for all of us looking at esports now, and what that demographic is–as it’s aging and maturing, what’s the value proposition for those people, as well as new fans? It’s going to be an exciting elongated process for that. Singer: Just to make sure, Robb, Ubisoft isn’t bringing up a public stance that they’re going to kill baseball. Chiarini: Uh…no? I think there’s enough room for everyone, for all these games, for the different sportsballs and everything else. There’s plenty of room for everyone, an appetite for each of us. Takahashi: We’ve gone into a bit of this already, but what lessons can be learned, both positive and negative, so far? Traditional sports lessons, but other lessons as well. Wakeford: As a team owner, I think there’s a lot of great lessons from traditional sports. There’s a lot of areas to innovate, especially with the digital connection between fan and player. We talked about a lot of the traditional revenue streams and media. There’s a lot of room for improvement in looking at how traditional sports have been able to really engage fans in broadcast and go deep into player backgrounds and create a connection with storytelling around players. You’ll see that emerge in this coming year in esports. Sponsorship we touched on. The gates are open and that’s happening. Another big area is live events. As I mentioned before, there are stadiums and arenas opening up all around the United States and the world for esports events. You’ll see a lot of innovation in how events are put on and engage people to come and have a great time. And then merchandise is another area that traditional sports teams have done a great job with. You’ll see that evolve. One other area that’s also evolving, and we’ve spent a lot of time on this at Gen.G–we planted a flag in South Korea, the birthplace of esports. If you think about a lot of the players within esports, so many of them are from Korea. It’s like Brazil in soccer in terms of so many great players coming out of South Korea. What you’re seeing now is a whole infrastructure being built around the trading of players. That’s another area of revenue that you’ll start to see. Whether you look at the soccer teams or other professional teams, you’ll see trading of players become another big area of growth. As an esports team owner, I’m looking a lot at traditional sports for best practices in that area. Chiarini: As I alluded to earlier, monetize everything. Traditional sports, they do a great job of every potential revenue source around the thing they create and how to monetize that, how to build upon that. To Kent’s point, how do we create deeper connections with fans, through storytelling and other pieces of content? How do you tell the story and own this ecosystem that you’ve created? Some of the traditional sports team and sports leagues do a great job of revealing that humanity that we all can connect to and do something with that. LA Valiant at the Overwatch League. Takahashi: I’ve looked at the Overwatch League and the structure for that, with the emphasis on local teams. That seems a pretty good mirror of traditional sports, where almost all traditional sports out there are really tied to local teams and local audiences coming out to stadiums. They’re not coming from around the globe to fill a stadium in New York City. I thought it was interesting that Mike Sepso, the co-founder of MLG, just joined the New York Excelsior team to try to develop that local audience and local revenue opportunity there. Other kinds of games out there, though, don’t have that localized structure at all, like Rainbow Six: Siege. Robb, I don’t know whether you guys are looking at whether localization of esports is going to be a huge opportunity. Chiarini: That’s great timing for me, in that–Ubisoft traditionally is a very territorial and regionally strong company. We have 36 offices around the world, studios. Each of our different regions and communities have their own marketing teams on the ground, as well as community teams to support local initiatives. We split the world in half between NCSA and NEA, but then within each of those regions, we have very strong markets. It’s always been a strength of ours. At times there’s been conflict. You have all these different programs and things going on, and trying to make it a holistic approach can be difficult and challenging. For esports it’s been a change in the way we operate our business in that we’ve always been so strong at the local level. Bringing something up to a global level with our pro league and being able to do something worldwide was a growing pain. It was challenging, but fun. On top of doing our global pro league, where we have a North America region and Latin America and Europe, we’re also starting up, in each of those regions, localized national programs. For instance, in the U.S. we have the U.S. Nationals, which is a U.S.-based program. All the teams have to reside within the U.S. somewhere. We’re splitting it into eastern and western conferences, very traditional to sports. Our finals are coming up next weekend in Las Vegas. It’s really about the local market and adding a layer of esports at the professional level to cater to that particular market, just as you’d mentioned. We’re doing those programs all over the world — Brazil, France, Belgium, all these other different groups are spinning up local initiatives on top of the global stuff. It’s a little bit faceless in some ways when you have an “NA” team. That can be difficult for somebody to connect to. But a U.S. team that’s based out of the west coast, that’s very familiar. You can connect with that a bit better. That’s one of the initiatives we’re tackling. Takahashi: The audience might benefit from understanding a bit more about the Overwatch League and how that’s structured. There’s a buy-in that the owners pay to get a slot for a team, but there’s also revenue sharing coming back. Kent, can you talk about some of that? Wakeford: What the Overwatch League has done, as well as what Riot’s done with franchising for League of Legends last year, that’s changed the overall dynamic within the esports market. In my opinion, it’s really propelled the growth of the entire market. With franchises, where you pay money to buy in and secure a lot, similar to a sports team buying into a league, and you own that. You own it in perpetuity, which means that as a team owner, I can make a long-term investment. I can sign long-term agreements with my players. I can sign long-term sponsors. I can invest in marketing. In the Overwatch League, where we’ll be hosting live events in our own arena in Seoul, I can invest in the infrastructure to be able to host live events. That really changes the dynamic and the investment thesis going into esports. That’s what’s made me so excited. I believe that franchising is here to stay. It’s what ‘sunlocked a rapid and massive flow of capital into the esports market. To your question about league revenue sharing, now that we’ve paid into the league and we own a franchise, own a part of this league, as the league sells sponsorships and merchandise and in-game assets, there’s a rev share back to the teams. Over time we receive value back from the league, from all the activities the league does. It’s a great model, and it’s been great for us as a team ownership group. Takahashi: It’s like a dividend you get back when you buy a blue chip stock, something like that. Wakeford: That’s a good analogy. [laughs] Singer: We’re talking about lessons learned from traditional models and where we’re going, but one of the things that traditional models haven’t had to deal with–in a way they’ve sort of had to deal with this, in that sports players are personalities with their own brands. But are there any questions around cash flow and what you do with players who not only own their own brand, but own their own channels? There’s a weird divide between esports and personal broadcasting, right? Players bring their audiences with them. They have Twitch channels or they’re on Mixer or what-have-you. As a team owner, you need to play back and forth with their need to keep their channel alive, or compensate them for losing their channel. If you want Ninja to leave his daily Fortnite channel to be on your Fortnite team, you’d have to pony up a lot of money. Is that a concern at the team level? What are both of you dealing with around this as you talk esports? Seoul Dynasty is an Overwatch League team. Wakeford: It’s a great a question, and it’s a very real dynamic within esports. As a team owner, we view this as an opportunity. All of our players stream. They stream on Twitch. They stream on other channels throughout China and other areas of the world. It’s part of the everyday life of a player within esports. From a compensation perspective, that goes into the compensation for the player. They’ll get the bulk of the revenue being derived from their channel on Twitch, but they’re going to do it under the team brand. For a player, the more views and subscribers and followers they have, the more money they’ll make from streaming. What you’re seeing is a lot of both the highly dedicated professional players, as well as streamers who are playing in Fortnite and other games–streaming is a fundamental part of esports. As a team ownership group what you need is to be able to balance how much time your players are spending on streaming versus training. That’s the interesting dynamic for a team ownership group. The rest of it all just flows through in the economics to the players. Singer: The reason I wanted to start off with that is because I was curious as to how that confuses advertisers. We talked about advertising being one of the main revenue forms, both in traditional sports and in esports. In traditional sports the NBA had to figure out how to get you to keep watching your TV and not walk away when commercials came up. There are ways to do that around relevance of the content. When we all got on this webinar, one of the first things Rachel said was, “Please disable your pop-up blockers.” One of the big concerns is around the relevance of your advertisements and the fact that in many of these big markets, ad block penetration is incredibly high. That’s between 15 to 25 percent in a lot of developed markets like the United States and western Europe and Australia. It’s even higher in Scandinavian countries, and in India as well. More than 25 percent of people are using ad blockers. That’s a big issue that I think folks are going to have to target when they look at how they’ll extract money from esports. If you install an ad blocker, that probably means the content you’re being served isn’t relevant. “This is a bother to me,” versus–if the new Star Wars trainer is coming out, Robb, whatever he thinks of the past two movies, he’d go out and watch that trailer, because that’s relevant advertising. I know Robb loves Star Wars. There’s a big question around relevance of advertising that I think this market needs to answer going forward. Wakeford: Let me jump in from a team perspective. I keep going back to opportunities. One of the big reasons why sponsors, big brand sponsors, are jumping into esports is to be within the stream. Not an ad that can be blocked. We talked about the percentage of ad blockers, but really, with the audience of esports, they’re millennials, right? These are millennials who watch more esports than baseball or the NHL. Yes, they have a high propensity for ad blockers and everything else. But when they’re watching the stream and what is in the live stream, whether that’s the player’s jersey sponsors — in our case Nighthawk — or the brands that are integrated into the actual live viewing of an Overwatch game, those brands are not being blocked by ad blockers. Those brands are part of the fabric of esports. They’re supporting the teams and the leagues. That’s the opportunity for brands that come in. They’re able to connect with this highly targeted demographic of millennials. They’re able to get in front of them and be part of the conversations. That’s one of the big reasons why I see so many big brands looking and starting to engage with esports. It’s specifically this ability to connect with a highly valuable demographic in an authentic way. The Clash Royale League world finals are headed to Japan. Takahashi: There are a lot of inescapable ads out there, right? And that’s the goal. We did go into this a bit already, but I’m curious how some of the conversations go with brands, about how you get into esports. Are there any technologies that can accelerate brands jumping into esports? Singer: I’ll hop on this first, being the technology provider. We’re talking about making money and how you engage your audience. Obviously the first way, when you think about esports, is large-scale live events. Those viewing experiences need to be the highest quality viewing experiences. All of these events are driving 10 times the engagement that on-demand events do. Your long tail doesn’t match that big burst of engagement and social presence and everything that goes along with it. I’m going to try to make this answer fairly brief, rather than a big technology pitch. But at Akamai we see three keys to making the most of that opportunity in your big event. That’s the quality and reliability and scalability of your stream. I’ll give you a quick example. Earlier this year, the India Premier League for cricket — I know we’re talking esports, but bear with me — it had the world’s biggest online viewing event to date. We had 10.3 million concurrent viewers. At Akamai we hosted 65.3 terabits per second of traffic on the network. Why is this a big deal for esports? There are two reasons. One is, these conversations–that’s where we want esports to go. We want these huge events with everyone viewing at the same time. That’s the size you want to have. The thing about the audience, again, and I alluded to it earlier–what device are they watching on? What network are they watching on? How are they engaging with your content? There are a lot of mobile viewers. People want to watch on the train. People want to watch everywhere. The second is that, when we’re looking at this event happening in India, we actually had folks testing the network in train stations in Mumbai and Delhi to make sure that the network was functioning. It’s going to be the same for esports. Kent is going to have viewers watching on their phones on trains in Seoul. Or maybe I want to watch his match this morning at 6AM on my commuter rail trip. For these top-quality online event experiences, you need to have a really strong CDN partner that has all of those bases covered in scalability, reliability, and quality. That’s what we’ve done. It’s what we did with the India Premier League and with a lot of the biggest large online events in the world. That’s my pitch and what we really think, as far as technology being important. It’s to make sure the infrastructure is there to have these massive online events happening, and have people engage with them in real time. A Seoul Dynasty fan cheers on his team in the Overwatch League Wakeford: Obviously what Akamai does is critical for the overall ecosystem to exist. I think as it relates specifically to sponsors and brands, what brands are going to look for as they dive into traditional esports is they’re going to look to the same way that they buy, measure, and report on all their other traditional media buys and sponsorships. What we’ve seen is a number of companies coming in, both new companies like FanAI, which I happen to be on the board of, or GumGum, which provides media valuation, and even Nielsen, which is coming into the esports world–all of these companies are now providing a lot of the data analytics, targeting capabilities, reporting capabilities, so that these brands and sponsors can now come in, do their media buys, see the valuation, compare it to what they’re doing in traditional sports or in other traditional media. What you’re seeing with a lot of brands is that the return on the investment in esports is greater than what they see in other types of media buying. It’s that type of measurement, that type of feedback loop that’s going to catalyze the further adoption of esports by a lot of the big brands. Rachael Brownell: Our poll was, is your company currently doing esports? And you had a variety of options there. It’s interesting here because it’s a sort of tie between, “No we’re not currently doing esports” and “We’re interested in doing esports.” The next one is the folks who have been doing esports for more than 12 months. Basically, what it sounds like is our audience is either thinking about it and not sure where to start, or they’ve been doing it for more than a year. Robb, let’s start with you. Does anything in that surprise you? Do you feel like a lot of people aren’t quite sure where to start? Chiarini: It’s great. I think what they’re doing is right. It’s what we keep seeing from new people entering the space. They’re doing research. They’re listening to webinars, jumping to conferences, having meetings. They’re learning and trying to understand the space. Because again, we use “esports” as this bigass title, right? [laughs] It’s a lot of micros, a lot of things. It depends on what game, what publisher, what team, what organization, what region. There are so many different layers that for someone going in they just get inundated. It’s crazy. You hit a wall and don’t know where to start. I think that people joining these kinds of things, listening in, getting some perspective from different points — from publishers, from teams, from different partners and sponsors that are already in their space, from technology brands, all the different groups that are out there — is great. This is what we see all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I go to a conference and I have a group of people who come up to me and say, “We don’t do anything, but we’re interested. We don’t know quite where to start. Where do we go? We’d like to talk a bit.” They’re just learning. So this is totally expected and totally appreciated. I’m glad they’re doing that. This is the group of people I want to talk to the most. How can we help them find their way in this space, create some meaningful activity, and be able to expand on that? We just want to help educate. Brownell: Jonathan, two questions, really. It sounds like a lot of people are interested in esports, but not everyone knows how to make money doing it. Unless we’re all millionaires, we can’t usually undertake to do things unless we can fund them. Are these results surprising to you? Do you have a recommendation for folks that are just starting out? Singer: No surprise here, but–there were some questions that popped in that I’ll tie to what you just asked me. Someone said 20 percent penetration of ad blockers for gamers seems very low. Who provided that data? That was actually the general population. We can assume that with gamers it’s going to be higher. Another question was, what can we do right now to make money? If you’re not in the position to go out and buy a team or sponsor a team, then there are three different things that you want to be thinking about to go in and provide differentiation and make money out of esports. Those are relevance, value, and choice. Riot’s European competition for League of Legends. Relevance gets back to that ad blocking conversation and what Kent said. Advertisers here are relevant. They’re in the right place. They’re hitting the right people. But gamers are going to have ad blockers installed. What can you do to change their minds? How can you reach them if you know ways to make your advertising more relevant to who someone is at that point, and not the boots they bought last week that you’re going to market to them again? If you can make the ads more relevant — if you’re in that space — you’re in a good place to address the rapidly growing esports market. The second piece, value, is what Robb alluded to earlier. We can provide people with in-game perks. We can provide people with in-game currency. There are companies like Sliver.tv that are providing similar things as perks just for viewing. If you’re in a place where you can use a new technology like blockchain to really track what people are doing and help reward viewers for consuming your advertising content, or consuming the streaming content itself–technologies and those sorts of business models are another way you can make money in esports. The third is choice, which we haven’t gotten to, and I’m curious how Kent and Robb are going to react to this. I think I know how Robb will react. That is, are you developing a technology or looking at technologies that allow viewers to engage with the game itself? This gets to the question of, what is an esport? What are traditional gaming models versus what we can do in the future? Can I interact with your game? I said it in our interview. Can it be the Hunger Games? Can viewers pay or vote to change the map that the players are going to play on next? Can they buy bonuses for their team and throw a little silver box from a parachute? Can they do things like that? Is there technology that enables that, or a game that’s going to enable that? That’s the last piece of what I think is an interesting place to make money. I want to leave that last one out there for Kent and Robb to respond to and say, “That’s a terrible idea” or “That’s interesting. Wakeford: As you look at technology that interacts with the game, you’re going to have to work directly with the game publishers. Or if it interacts with the streaming experience, you have to create something–there are plenty of opportunities to create extensions on the Twitch platform that enable different engagement models with streamers and players. There’s a great opportunity on the platforms like Twitch. It’s unclear with the game developers, if they’re going to allow third parties to come in and allow you to have your custom loot boxes, dropping Coca-Cola or something else into the game. The other area, as we go back to the traditional sports model–merchandise is starting to take off. Live events are starting to take off. There’s a whole ecosystem that’s evolving and developing around esports at a very rapid pace. If you’re in those areas, there’s a lot of room for innovation and a lot of room for new brands to come in and provide something that’s unique for the esports audience. I think we’ll see a lot of new companies doing that. As well as some of the traditional companies. Chiarini: The short answer is, anything is an opportunity. It needs to make sense. It needs to not detract from the game. We’re looking at in-game integrations and yeah, I think we’re going to see more of that. For years, sponsors and people have been getting inside games. You’ve seen different advertisements, from small things to billboards and signs inside a game to all manner of stuff. I think it’s open. It’s just, what does the value proposition look like from both ends? What does that look like for development? How does it change the game fundamentally, if it does? I think everyone’s open to that. It’s just a question of what’s the opportunity, like anything else. League of Legends World Championship 2017 Takahashi: How does monetization differ between east and west? An audience members asks if there are any regions in the world that are further along with esports. Wakeford: The three largest markets for esports in the world are China, the U.S., and Korea. They all have different strengths. What you’re seeing in China today is massive viewership across multiple different streaming platforms like Douyu, Huya, and so on. Huge engagement in streaming. You’re seeing multiple esports complexes. These are complexes that are hundreds of millions of dollars to build. They’re popping up throughout China. There’s a huge appetite for esports and live events in China. You’re seeing huge growth in those areas. In the U.S. you’re seeing higher monetization rates in terms of sponsors coming in, higher CPM rates for media, higher dollars being paid for broadcast and media rights. On the monetization side you’re seeing a lot of strength in the U.S. And then in Korea, esports has been part of the cultural fabric there for a while. You see huge participation in live events, where people go to esports games as a normal weekend event. They’re filling arenas and stadiums. You’re seeing differing areas of growth by region. If you’re an esports team–we happen to have offices in Shanghai, in Seoul, and in Los Angeles. We’re diving into all three markets. But if you’re an esports team, depending on what market you’re in, you’ll want to lean into these different growth areas that are happening in the different regions. Chiarini: I would totally agree with those points. China brings a huge viewership. Korea, the history, the fabric you mentioned, the DNA of that ecosystem. The U.S. is traditionally the money. It’s the market that everyone is interested in, the consumer market. It’s lucrative as far as partnerships and sponsorship. There’s a history there for how traditional sports do things, so there’s a lot of commonality there. After that, looking at Europe, just the desire of wanting things and doing a lot of cool innovation–there’s a lot of desire in the EU to do new things. As far as regions go–at the end of the day it’s all based on where and what is going on for that game. If you’re looking at the micro level, what’s going on with a game? How do you as a brand or a group as a team feel that going into a market makes sense? If you’re an esports team that’s strong in Europe you might look at Latin America as a growth opportunity, because that’s strategically important to you. I would say that even though there are varying degrees of regional success, there are still opportunities because of digital content, because of the consumership of those things. There are plenty of options. Takahashi: We have another audience question here. Are there any companies you think are doing an awesome job with esports? What are some things you can admire in some of these companies that are pioneering? Singer: I think I mentioned Sliver.tv earlier. They’re doing some cool things around providing value for the viewers. There are others out there, but that’s the first one that comes to mind. Then there’s a company called Genvid that’s doing interesting things as far as player choice and getting involved with the content itself. Allowing spectators to interact with esports content. Those are two of the ones immediately pop into my mind, apart from all the giants out there that are producing the games people love to play. Wakeford: Speaking of one of the giants, I think you have to recognize that Activision Blizzard is doing a phenomenal job in terms of what they’ve done with the Overwatch League. They created the gold standard of what leagues look like as far as infrastructure for the teams, the best-in-class guidelines for all the players, bringing in sponsors, media rights, innovating in how they’re broadcasting, moving to a regional system. They’ve really pushed the ball forward, so to speak, in growing the esports ecosystem. Fnatic at the League of Legends World Championships. Takahashi: We may be able to squeeze this one in as well. What’s the current landscape and relationship between individual esports athletes and corporate sponsors? Are there core management firms popping up to represent athletes? Are team owners handling sponsorships, or are athletes handling business relationships themselves? Wakeford: As a team owner–there are a number of agencies, esports agencies. They’ve been acquired by larger agencies, so now UTA owns one of the larger esports agencies, as well as ICM. Those are also agencies that represent celebrities and musicians and so on. There are big agencies representing esports players. For most of the sponsorship agreements, they’ll usually come through the teams and sponsor players as part of the team organization. In some cases you’ll see players outside having their own independent sponsors as well. But today, a majority of the sponsorships are flowing through the teams to the individual players. That’s very different in the context of streamers like Ninja, who are out there with their own agents and managers securing their own sponsors. But for the professional team players, the teams are playing a big role today as it relates to sponsorship. Takahashi: One company I just read about that raised some funding was Matchmade. They’re match-making with individual esports streamers and brands, getting sponsorships for influencers. I think we’re just about out of time. To wrap up, it might be good to ahead a year or two at what you expect for esports and what’s coming next. What’s coming next for monetization? What’s the form of monetization that will kick in in a big way in a year or two? Singer: Anything that makes esports different from traditional sports, I think, is what we’re going to see more of. That’s in how they engage with their communities and the technology that they use to provide events and provide services? That’s what I’ve been poking at the other panelists with throughout. I think that’s one of the big ways that the market will continue to grow. We’re looking forward to seeing continued growth and more cool events.
16 Dec 18
News Archives Uk

<div _ngcontent-c14 = "" innerhtml = " Gold bars can now be purchased in Red Dead Online for real money.Credit: Rockstar Games We all knew it was only a matter of time before Rockstar gave games Red Dead Online Players can buy gold bars with real money. This time has come. Gold bars are on […]

16 Dec 18
Kushagra's Blog

Fortnite, being the most played game of all time, has got a tons of updates to make it even more popular. Along with all the seasons having some rare items such as the infinity gauntlet which gave the player over than 500 shields and health, the new season needed to be even greater. This time […]

15 Dec 18
Try out Fortnite v bucks blog

Players, young types anyway, don’t appear to note this kind of factors. They’re right after assault rifles (if possible the Famous SCAR), pump shotguns, bolt-action sniper rifles (the scope is often a boon), chug jugs, slurp juices, bandages, medkits, and protect potions. They see, and covet, skins that seem great but don't have any bearing […]

15 Dec 18
SPY

Save on the year’s biggest Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games, and collectibles including Pokémon, Fortnite and more.

15 Dec 18
Blog for Games Design work

Micro-transactions and peoples perspectives on them There are mainly 2 perspectives that a strong amount of evidence to back them up one that is all for micro-transactions and the other is against micro-transactions. There is a perspective one I personally support which is based on what the micro-transactions offer and if they break the game […]

15 Dec 18
Site Title

Welcome to EZOKAY.COM, we were established in 2016, Company name Yiwu Zouxian E-commerce Firm (Register Number 92330782MA2AB8P78Q), Registered in China, Yiwu City, Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province. Contact number +8618650632669, contact email: service@u4gm.com. Buy fortnite weapons, Buy cheap and safe Fortnite materials on ezokay.com have a large stock Fortnite materials so can trade Fortnite save the […]

14 Dec 18
GeekandGear.com

Free controllers and more. By Seth G. Macy If you buy something through this post, IGN may get a share of the sale. For more, read our Terms of Use. The Nintendo Switch is one of the hottest items of the 2018 holiday season, and as such, there aren’t many Nintendo Switch deals happening right […]

14 Dec 18
News Archives Uk

Figure: Sam Woolley Review of the yearWe look back at the highs, lows, surprises and excellences in and around video games this year. In almost every respect, 2018 is Twitch's biggest year. Already a force in the game world, Fortnite helped catapult the streaming platform into mainstream. There were big moments, bigger numbers and of […]

14 Dec 18
Travel

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14 Dec 18
CryptoCenterNews

Pixowl, the maker of The Sandbox voxel-based game world, has created a $2 million Creator Fund that it will use to reward artists for creating items on its blockchain-based gaming platform. Animoca Brands bought Pixowl in August for $4.875 million, in part because of that company’s plan to move into nonfungible tokens, or blockchain-based technology that […]

14 Dec 18
VentureBeat
Pixowl, the maker of The Sandbox voxel-based game world, has created a $2 million Creator Fund that it will use to reward artists for creating items on its blockchain-based gaming platform. Animoca Brands bought Pixowl in August for $4.875 million, in part because of that company’s plan to move into nonfungible tokens, or blockchain-based technology that can be used to uniquely identify items in games. These tokens can be used to reward artists for creating experiences in the new version of The Sandbox, which is a voxel-based world with blocky characters on mobile devices. Other kinds of games, CryptoKitties, are adopting blockchain technology to enable owners to actually own the items that they create or buy in the games. Pixowl has been building The Sandbox community for more than six years, and the goal is to reward players who take the company’s tools to build even more things inside the world, said Arthur Madrid, CEO of Pixowl, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We decided a year ago to develop a version of The Sandbox on the blockchain,” Madrid said. “We are on mobile and moving it to the PC and mobile. We wanted creators to be able to their own items with non-fungible tokens, unique items, on the blockchain, and be able to trade them. ” Approved creators making new content will be rewarded with grants in their choice of fiat currency (like U.S. dollars) or cryptocurrency (including the platform’s own ERC-20 SAND token, which will mainly be used in Pixowl’s ecosystem). The Sandbox is a community-driven platform where creators can monetize voxel (using the pixelated style) assets and gaming experiences. “We believe voxels are a big opportunity because so many users know how to create with them,” Madrid said. “They could build things, using these ‘digital Legos.'” The Sandbox has voxel art where users create the characters. The Sandbox has 40 million installs and 1.2 million monthly active users on mobile. But the 2D game remains far smaller than rivals like Minecraft or Roblox. Fortnite, which lets its creators build their own items, is also a competitor, but it isn’t doing blockchain yet. Pixowl will make a decentralized 3D version of The Sandbox on the blockchain, which is a transparent and secure decentralized ledger. That will allow PC and Mac users to monetize the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that they use in the game. “We’ve been building the existing 2D mobile game, The Sandbox, for six years,” said Sebastien Borget, chief operating officer, in an interview. “It’s a great mobile game. But we feel like we have a unique opportunity, taking the franchise we own, and adding multiplayer PC, adding a full experience for players, and the new blockchain technology as well so we can disrupt the two main competitors on the market. We can fill out the space that has not been completely covered by them.” The Sandbox for blockchain aims to disrupt the market by providing the first blockchain platform in competition with rivals like Roblox or Minecraft. It will offer its large community of creators its own NFT builder gaming ecosystem. “With The Sandbox, we are developing the first User Generated Content NFT marketplace and providing a decentralized future for content discovery,” said Madrid. “Our new Creator Fund offers an attractive option for creators to really own their assets while making money through publishing their creations on our platform.” In The Sandbox, any creative person can make their very own static or animated voxel objects. It’s as easy as using children’s toy building blocks, and the creative process is aided by the platform’s intuitive VoxEdit tool that will allow anyone to create and animate NFT objects from scratch or import existing creations. The user-created marketplace of The Sandbox. For the first time, creators will be able to publish their voxel creations on the blockchain as NFTs, or virtual tokens ensuring digital scarcity, security and authenticity without the limitations of central control. Models made by artists will be unique and their scarcity provable on the blockchain in perpetuity, allowing them to be freely and securely traded in The Sandbox as well as on third-party NFT marketplaces including OPSkins/WAX, a leading NFT exchange, and many others. With true ownership of their NFTs, creators will hold a vested interest in success of The Sandbox. “We have been investing a lot in this new game,” Madrid said. “You can really feel it is a different universe. The goal is to pay over 1,000 artists over the next two years. We will use part of our cash flow to build a user-generated content marketplace of NFTs. In the next few months, we expect to reach 10,000 assets available. They will be available for any creators to create games on The Sandbox.” “The combination of the Creator Fund and our VoxEdit tool set provide an incentive for artists to get into The Sandbox early, potentially making their NFT assets the go-to models in their respective category,” said Madrid. “We want to fast track our vision of a voxel building platform online, as titles like Minecraft and Roblox have shown that creators of all ages can build online user-generated content beautifully and at scale.” The Sandbox’s Creator Fund is an initiative supporting all talent without any distinction of age, sex, or country of origin. Money from the fund will predominantly be used to pay for artists to submit original voxel models via grants on a per asset basis. Ultimately, the goal would be to create assets that can be taken across platforms, from one game to another, Madrid said. The Sandbox makes it easy for players to create art. “The probability is good that those assets could be used in another game beyond The Sandbox,” Madrid said. “The goal is to invest money to convince artists that creating NFTs is an opportunity to monetize on the blockchain, which brings true ownership. The tokenization of the asset enables it to be traded more easily.” Artists will be able to register to qualify for grants, submitting their voxel models to The Sandbox team for approval. The Creator Fund is a revolving fund that will be replenished using transaction fees from the game’s marketplace. The marketplace is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2019. Madrid hopes the tools and the market and the tokens will be interoperable with other game worlds. Artists can visit fund.sandbox.game to sign up to get notified when the fund begins taking applications. Further details on the Creator Fund will be unveiled on the company’s Medium channel at medium.com/sandbox-game in the future. Madrid and Borget founded Pixowl in San Francisco in 2011, with development studios in Buenos Aires.
14 Dec 18
The Scottish Sun
Parents across the UK could end up forking out eight times the retail price for popular toys that are quickly selling out in the run up to Christmas. Retailers such as Hamleys and John Lewis put out lists detailing the toys that kids will be scribbling on to their wishlists come Christmas. LovetheSales has found popular toys being sold online for up to EIGHT times their usual price But research from sales tracking website LovetheSales.com has found that popular toys are quickly selling out as we approach December 25. And it seems some sellers are taking advantage of these “must-have” items by listing them for up to eight times the price on online marketplaces including Amazon and eBay. Shoppers have already spotted sold out Christmas advert character Kevin the Carrot on sale on eBay for a mammoth £500. Of course, just because toys are listed at these prices doesn’t mean people will buy them, but desperation to please their kids may lead some parents down this route. Always check a number of retailers online before you splash out – you might find that while items are out of stock online, you can get them in store if you’re able to click and collect. Here are some of this year’s top festive toys that LovetheSales has seen being flogged for more. Monopoly Fornite RRP: £21.99 Price on eBay: £99 – more than FOUR time the price Monopoly Fornite is being sold on eBay for a whopping £99. [web_component id=”web-component-christmas-countdown-timer-250718″ url=”//www.thesun.co.uk/components_static/christmas-countdown-timer-250718/christmas-countdown-timer-250718.b9baa332.js”] Monopoly Fortnite has sold out at popular toy retailers Argos, Smyths, and The Entertainer, which has lead to it being listed on eBay for over FOUR times the usual price. It costs £21.99 at other toy retailers but one optimistic eBay seller has listed it at £99, with the listing showing that three of the games have sold. But parents shouldn’t fork out over the odds as Monopoly is selling the item for £22 on Amazon. Baby Shark singing plush toy RRP: £15 Price on eBay: £125 – more than EIGHT times the price A singing Baby Shark toy is being sold for a mammoth £125 on eBay Baby Shark has been an internet sensation this year but soft toy versions of the lovable shark family have sold out on Amazon and The Entertainer. For unlucky parents still on the hunt for the singing fish, it is now being advertised on eBay for as much as £125 – more than eight times its £15 price tag. We couldn’t see the toys being sold at any other UK retailers and The Entertainer says it doesn’t envisage having any more in stock before Christmas. Fingerlings Baby Unicorn – Gemma RRP: £15 Price on Amazon Marketplace: £44.99 – nearly THREE times the price A Fingerlings Baby Unicorn called Gemma is being sold on Amazon Marketplace for £44.99 Interactive Fingerlings toys normally sell for £15, but a Baby Unicorn version called Gemma is being sold by a third-party seller on Amazon for £44.99 – nearly three times the usual £15 price. But parents shouldn’t despair; we found that you can bags Gemma if you can collect from certain The Entertainer stores. Use the retailer’s store finder tool to locate your nearest branch. Lego Harry Potter Quidditch Match Building Set RRP: £34.99 eBay: £159.48 – more than FOUR time the price Lego Harry Potter Quidditch is being sold on eBay for £159.48 Harry Potter fans may have their hearts set on a Lego set they can put together to create a Quidditch sporting stadium, but beware buying it on eBay where opportunistic sellers have it listed at four times the price. Argos, for example, has sold out of the toy online but shoppers can still get it in some branches for £34.99 compared to the £159.48 price on eBay. Use the retailer’s store finder tool to locate your nearest branch. [article-rail-topic title=”More on Christmas” term_id=”8097″ posts_number=”6″ /] Here are this year’s dream toys for 2018 – including a unicorn that poos. Be careful buying putty and slime toys sold in Argos, Hamleys and Smyths though, as they may contain dangerous chemicals and can cause diarrhoea. But it’s not all about the toys, a girl has written a heartbreaking letter asking Santa to change her dad’s work shift for Christmas instead of bringing her toys. [bc_video video_id=”5978541971001″ account_id=”5067014667001″ player_id=”default” embed=”in-page” padding_top=”56%” autoplay=”” min_width=”0px” max_width=”640px” width=”100%” height=”100%” caption=”Man starts personalised children’s books company after being made redundant and it’s expected to turn over £1.3 million this year”] We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at money@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 78 24516. Don’t forget to join the Sun Money’s Facebook group for the latest bargains and money-saving advice.
14 Dec 18
The Sun
Parents across the UK could end up forking out eight times the retail price for popular toys that are quickly selling out in the run up to Christmas. Retailers such as Hamleys and John Lewis put out lists detailing the toys that kids will be scribbling on to their wishlists come Christmas. LovetheSales has found popular toys being sold online for up to EIGHT times their usual price But research from sales tracking website LovetheSales.com has found that popular toys are quickly selling out as we approach December 25. And it seems some sellers are taking advantage of these “must-have” items by listing them for up to eight times the price on online marketplaces including Amazon and eBay. Shoppers have already spotted sold out Christmas advert character Kevin the Carrot on sale on eBay for a mammoth £500. Of course, just because toys are listed at these prices doesn’t mean people will buy them, but desperation to please their kids may lead some parents down this route. Always check a number of retailers online before you splash out – you might find that while items are out of stock online, you can get them in store if you’re able to click and collect. Here are some of this year’s top festive toys that LovetheSales has seen being flogged for more. Monopoly Fornite RRP: £21.99 Price on eBay: £99 – more than FOUR time the price Monopoly Fornite is being sold on eBay for a whopping £99. Monopoly Fortnite has sold out at popular toy retailers Argos, Smyths, and The Entertainer, which has lead to it being listed on eBay for over FOUR times the usual price. It costs £21.99 at other toy retailers but one optimistic eBay seller has listed it at £99, with the listing showing that three of the games have sold. But parents shouldn’t fork out over the odds as Monopoly is selling the item for £22 on Amazon. Baby Shark singing plush toy RRP: £15 Price on eBay: £125 – more than EIGHT times the price A singing Baby Shark toy is being sold for a mammoth £125 on eBay Baby Shark has been an internet sensation this year but soft toy versions of the lovable shark family have sold out on Amazon and The Entertainer. For unlucky parents still on the hunt for the singing fish, it is now being advertised on eBay for as much as £125 – more than eight times its £15 price tag. We couldn’t see the toys being sold at any other UK retailers and The Entertainer says it doesn’t envisage having any more in stock before Christmas. Fingerlings Baby Unicorn – Gemma RRP: £15 Price on Amazon Marketplace: £44.99 – nearly THREE times the price A Fingerlings Baby Unicorn called Gemma is being sold on Amazon Marketplace for £44.99 Interactive Fingerlings toys normally sell for £15, but a Baby Unicorn version called Gemma is being sold by a third-party seller on Amazon for £44.99 – nearly three times the usual £15 price. But parents shouldn’t despair; we found that you can bags Gemma if you can collect from certain The Entertainer stores. Use the retailer’s store finder tool to locate your nearest branch. Lego Harry Potter Quidditch Match Building Set RRP: £34.99 eBay: £159.48 – more than FOUR time the price Lego Harry Potter Quidditch is being sold on eBay for £159.48 Harry Potter fans may have their hearts set on a Lego set they can put together to create a Quidditch sporting stadium, but beware buying it on eBay where opportunistic sellers have it listed at four times the price. Argos, for example, has sold out of the toy online but shoppers can still get it in some branches for £34.99 compared to the £159.48 price on eBay. Use the retailer’s store finder tool to locate your nearest branch. [article-rail-topic title=”More on Christmas” term_id=”8097″ posts_number=”6″ /] Here are this year’s dream toys for 2018 – including a unicorn that poos. Be careful buying putty and slime toys sold in Argos, Hamleys and Smyths though, as they may contain dangerous chemicals and can cause diarrhoea. But it’s not all about the toys, a girl has written a heartbreaking letter asking Santa to change her dad’s work shift for Christmas instead of bringing her toys. [bc_video video_id=”5978541971001″ account_id=”5067014667001″ player_id=”default” embed=”in-page” padding_top=”56%” autoplay=”” min_width=”0px” max_width=”640px” width=”100%” height=”100%” caption=”Man starts personalised children’s books company after being made redundant and it’s expected to turn over £1.3 million this year”] We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at money@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 78 24516. Don’t forget to join the Sun Money’s Facebook group for the latest bargains and money-saving advice.
14 Dec 18
VentureBeat
IronSource has a broad view of what is happening in mobile user acquisition, brand advertising, games, adtech, and even 5G technology. And that’s why I thought it would be interesting to talk with Tal Shoham, chief operating officer for developer solutions at IronSource. Shoham made some predictions about what will happen across categories as changes in one field — such as the introduction of 5G wireless data technology — can create opportunities, like making connected hardcore games on mobile devices more viable. We talked about IronSource’s expectations for the year. And we also noted that IronSource is introducing a new tool dubbed the ROAS Optimizer, which helps mobile marketers figure out return on advertising spend (ROAS) using both in-app purchase data and user-level ad revenue data. IronSource is launching this tool today to enable user acquisition managers to automatically bid on dynamic CPI (cost per install) rates to hit their desired ROAS goals. The tool is one of many that can help simplify the hard task of getting new users for mobile apps and games. And it fits with Shoham’s prediction that finding users through advertising is becoming more and more complex. “There’s no difference between advertising in-app and advertising in traditional channels. In both, there are different qualities of users stemming from a variety of different factors, and advertisers must know how to bid according to those users,” said Shoham. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview. Tal Shoham, COO of mobile at IronSource. GamesBeat: What are the top predictions you have to talk about? Tal Shoham: The first thing we thought about is everything that evolves the technology in terms of internet and communications technology. 5G and everything that has to do with upgraded phones and unlimited packages of data. We see that starting to affect the newest tech that’s being produced. That’s not a hyper-casual prediction at all. It has nothing to do with hyper-casual, actually. Hyper-casual can run on all phones. This trend, in terms of 5G — phones could have crazy capabilities like unlimited packages. We feel that will create more advanced hardcore games that need those capabilities to live. We already see some of them — with games like PUBG or Fortnite — hardcore 3D games that need to be online all the time and you mainly play on strong phones. With old phones they’re not a great experience. That’s one prediction, everything around tech upgrades, richer content, upgraded phones, and unlimited packages of data. GamesBeat: Tell me another prediction. Shoham: The second thing I’d say is that everything that has to do with user acquisition and monetization, in terms of the teams themselves within gaming companies — we feel that’s going to become much more in sync, up to the point where it will be one team in many of the companies we’re talking to. This definitely has to do with hyper-casual games, because with hyper-casual, the user acquisition and monetization will usually be on the same team. We see that with all the leading hyper-casual game companies. It’s one person who takes care of user acquisition and monetization per title, which is very different than what we’re used to with the triple-A studios, the hardcore studios, and even the mid-core or casual studios. A lot of the companies we work with are already consolidating the teams in charge of user acquisition and monetization, or they’re working a much more synched way than they used to. It doesn’t need to be ad monetization or in-app purchase monetization, but usually this is relevant for heavy ad monetization revenue games. That’s happening more and more. The hyper-casual trend, again, is pushing this a lot more, because there the user acquisition and monetization go hand in hand. The return on ad spend is being calculated by the monetization team, which is in charge of ads, much more than on other teams. In some companies this is still completely isolated. We just had a few meetings with companies in London where the marketing and monetization teams are not in sync at all, which is something that can happen in a game that’s heavy on ad monetization. But that’s not happening in the hyper-casual world. Hyper casual games are taking off. GamesBeat: What else have you got? Shoham: The third prediction we talked about, and that we feel strongly about, is publishing. We see that as a huge trend in the last year. More and more game companies are going into publishing, meaning not necessarily building the title, the application, the game themselves, but finding someone else to build it and doing everything else. That means marketing, everything having to do with monetization, helping with localization, helping with design here and there, giving all kinds of pointers. We see that becoming a huge trend. It’s happening not only with gaming companies. We also see what happened with AppLovin. They started Lion Studios, a big notion around that. We see it with more and more game companies. In the hyper-casual world, of course, it’s very strong. It happens all the time. Voodoo, Ketchapp, all these guys, this is one of their biggest value propositions in the market: the fact that they don’t build all their games. They build only a small portion of their games. But we also see it with companies like Miniclip and others. That’s going to become stronger and stronger. With the barriers to entry, the capabilities you need to build a game on your own or with a small team — when you find a publisher that becomes more and more available. For us to take part in that, we don’t see that it makes sense as a technology vendor or a mediation provider, and an ad network as well. But we see it as a strong trend. We’re seeing it in a lot of other companies we’re talking to, both gaming companies and other companies. Alex Yazdi (right) and Gabriel Rivaud of Voodoo at Casual Connect Europe. GamesBeat: How did people start coming up with the distinction between casual and hyper-casual? Did a particular game blaze that trail? Shoham: The main difference is that hyper-casual games are usually much more simple. They don’t need a lot of resources to run them. They’re not complicated. You look at examples like Crossy Road or Flappy Bird. Flappy Bird broke the market back in the day. They’re games where you don’t need a team of 10-15 people. You can build them with one, two, three developers. It doesn’t need months of work. You can build them in a couple of weeks, once you have an idea. You don’t need a lot of designers. It’s a very simple design that you can build in a very short production time. Likewise, the gameplay is very simple. It usually starts from the same point as you finished the last time. We do see hyper-casual level-based games as well, though. Finally, the majority of the revenue, more than 80 to 90 percent, comes from ad monetization rather than in-app purchases. That’s probably the biggest differentiator compared to casual, mid-core, and hardcore. You have casual games from King and others where the majority of the revenue comes from IAP. In hyper-casual it’s the opposite. The revenue for those companies is coming from interstitials, rewarded video, banner ads, and maybe a bit of removing ads as an in-app purchase. But only 10 or 20 percent, or even in some cases 2-5 percent, comes from IAP, which is a huge difference in the economy of a game, how a game is built, and how much you need as far as rewards or currency within the game. There’s not necessarily a big incentive for players to purchase a currency and convert that into IAP when you monetize primarily with ads. Another prediction we can talk about, then, is what’s going to be the future of hyper-casual? We do see, with some of the clients we have and some of their games, that hyper-casual is probably going to evolve into something else. It’s not going to stay as simple as it is. The next generation of hyper-casual, or hyper-casual 2.0 — we’ll see publishers adding more layers of depth, metagame layers and other features to hyper-casual games. It makes a lot of sense. One thing I feel very strongly about — a lot of the things that are working well for casual games, in terms of how to monetize users and drive them into IAP, are going to penetrate more into the hyper-casual world. We’ll see a more balanced economy. Instead of 90 percent coming from ads, it’ll be more like 50-50. There are a few good examples of companies already doing this, either with IAP or subscriptions or removing ads or whatever it is. There will be more layers to push users toward IAP and other monetization. We feel that’s going to be much more beneficial for Google and Apple, because they see a cut of that. They’re pushing toward that route. We predict that hyper-casual will become a bit more similar to casual, with an emphasis on functionalities that casual has as well to monetize users with IAP. Another interesting trend or prediction we see is automation. Automation is very big. A lot of the companies out there are working on it. Game developers are trying to automate as many tasks as possible in the casual and hyper-casual world, and also in platform and technology development. For instance, one of the strongest products we released this year was something that allows you as a UA buyer to set all of your bids automatically according to the results of your campaign. You can change 20,000 or 30,000 different bids every day in an automated way, which is far more manual work than a UA manager could ever do. ROAS average improvement This is not only coming from us. Facebook has these types of products. We see other automation tools for user acquisition, to buy on multiple platforms. We see a lot of automation being done on creative, because creative is so big and so important. We see a lot of engines to help you with creative, with app store optimization, being rolled out. One reason that’s happening is because more and more game developers and publishers have more and more apps or games or titles to monetize and promote. They need some sort of automation tool to manage all of that. You can’t have a team of thousands of people all managing campaigns and optimization and creative and so on. That’s a big trend that we’re seeing all the time. A big prediction regarding is that we feel ads are becoming much more sophisticated as time goes on. It’s just going to become more and more extreme. The new creatives, the new types of ad units, the new experiences for users, we’re going to see more and more. We already see 360 ads, augmented reality, virtual reality, playable ads, all kind of rich media formats. We see that all the time. We feel there will be much more innovation in technology there. It will follow what I said about automation and upgraded technology, with phones being able to process more advanced media. What’s happened in the last couple of years is already insane when it comes to ad formats. We’ve seen playable ads. Facebook just launched their beta for playables. It’s happening more and more on the big platforms. They’re adopting more and more sophisticated ad formats. All that will just become more extreme. The last thing we feel we’re going to see more and more is that IAP-heavy game companies, hardcore game companies, companies that generate 100 percent of their revenue from IAP, will open up their doors for advertising in their games. We already see this in some of the giants. You wouldn’t have expected that some of these guys would ever have ads, but they do. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One, users are already used to seeing rewarded video in a lot of the games they play. It’s not a weird thing for a user anymore to get some sort of reward or currency or extra move for watching a video, watching an ad. Users see this in so many games. It’s become a very strong format for monetizing users. We feel that more and more IAP-heavy companies are opening up to that format, and for ads in general. ROAS vs goal comparison We also feel that the technology has evolved dramatically in terms of how to segment and who to show ads and how to cap and how to pay for ads. You don’t have to treat all your users in the same way, which was the case a few years ago. Now game developers can implement much more sophisticated and granular ways of monetizing users with ads. It doesn’t necessarily harm gameplay or treat paying users very differently from non-paying users. You can segment users from different countries and different age groups to give them the best experience for those specific cohorts without harming the core loop of the game or IAP. A lot of the giants are doing experiments, and those experiments will lead to adopting ad monetization in more titles, more studios, and more games. Once two or three or four of the giants implement this, the rest will follow quite rapidly. It’s already happening. We’re just in the beginning, but in 2019 and 2020, it’s going to happen much more. GamesBeat: When Blizzard had their BlizzCon event and showed off the Diablo Immortal mobile game, the fans kind of went crazy because it wasn’t a PC game. That crowd, to me, seems like they’re not about to accept any kind of monetization in a game other than paying for it. I wonder whether there’s still a deep divide between hardcore gamers and mobile gamers. Shoham: There is. You’re right that there is. The hyper-casual, casual, mid-core gamers are used to seeing ads, reacting to ads, watching rewarded video, getting all kinds of different rewards. That’s part of every game they’re playing, and usually they play more than one game. They interact with it, and they like it. They actually look for it. There’s certainly a big difference. The hardcore gaming companies, the hardcore games, are not using ads at all yet. Those types of users, if they’re hardcore users, are not used to seeing that. But the mentality and the math stay the same in terms of — even in a game that’s super hardcore, from Blizzard or any other developer, you still have, at most, maybe 7 percent paying users. You still have 90 to 95 percent of users that will never pay. Maybe they’ll watch a short video to win more coins or gems or a new item. Maybe that’s something they’re willing to do. Diablo Immortal A lot of these companies were heavily against implementing rewarded video until they tried it, and then they said, “Wow, this isn’t doing that bad. The users like it. They’re asking for it now.” Something that’s important to remember, when we’re talking about rewarded video, is that it’s user-initiated. You’re not actually deciding for the user that they’ll watch a video. The user sees a button that says, “Watch the video and earn whatever.” They decide to click on the button. Because of that flow, because it’s user-initiated, if users don’t like it they just won’t see it anymore. If they like it they’ll click on it. From what we see, users love it. They’re willing to click and watch. It’s a great way to give them a taste of all kinds of virtual goods. It’s a great way to create longer sessions, because users now have something to use or spend. It’s a great way to convert a non-paying user to a paying user, because you give them a small taste of some virtual goods, and maybe now they’ll be willing to pay for that. And of course it’s a great way to monetize the non-paying users, which is the majority of your supply. It’s a weird win-win situation for everyone with rewarded products. IronSource GamesBeat: As far as improvements in Facebook and Google’s UAC optimization tools, does that leave much room for third-party optimization for Facebook and Google? Shoham: Definitely. I’ll divide my answer into a few parts. First of all, there’s a lot of room for third-party companies to help with optimization on those giant platforms for UAC. You see a lot of companies out there where this is their bread and butter, helping small user acquisition teams — or big ones, for that matter — to better manage their inventory and campaigns running on Facebook and so on. There’s a lot of room there, a lot of help to provide around creative, how to target, what audience groups to create. Even though those platforms are optimizing and improving, there’s still a lot of room for third parties to optimize the buy on those platform. The second part is there are a lot more platforms out there. There’s IronSource. There’s Unity. There’s AppLovin. The list goes on and on in terms of huge ad networks and supply sources. All those platforms are becoming bigger and bigger. They’re growing dramatically year over year. There’s a lot of room for third-party optimization tools on those platforms as well, or for those platforms to increase how much they invest in optimization tools for their inventory. That’s what we’re doing at IronSource, as an example. We released all these amazing optimization tools this year. Those tools help developers optimize their buy on IronSource, but not only on IronSource. As a mediation platform, we also provide data and tools for our clients to optimize the way they buy on other platforms. If somebody’s using our mediation platform, as a quick example, and enjoying the user-level ad revenue we provide — this revenue is something that helps developers better understand lifetime value and return on ad spend for the campaigns they’re running, and not only with IronSource, but also with other companies. They now know, because of the mediation platform, the true value of each user coming from ads, which they didn’t know before. Now, they can utilize that data on Facebook, Google, IronSource, and other platforms in ways that are much more granular, much more accurate. This is quite big and quite disruptive as far as what it’s done in the market, and again, it’s in the family of third-party optimization tools for measurement, or whatever you want to call it. GamesBeat: On 5G, it starts a bit in 2019, and really picks up by 2020, right? It seems like a gradual start. Shoham: Exactly. It’s going to be a long wait until the market actually implements it. But again, what we’ll see is more and more bigger titles, in terms of size, because of the availability of bandwidth to download. That used to be a limitation in the past. It’s already almost not a limitation anymore. You’ll see more and more buyers with a game that weighs 700 megabytes, and they’ll target even users who aren’t on wi-fi, which wasn’t the case in the past. That makes a big difference in the market, when you have 5G with an unlimited data package and a powerful phone. Why wait for wi-fi to download a gigabyte worth of game? You can just download it on the bus. There’s no reason not to. GamesBeat: You can do a lot more with the cloud as well at some point, right? Shoham: There can be a lot more services that are server-to-server, that don’t necessarily need to be pre-cached or need the client to download something. That will just be available. There will be much more robust and sophisticated ad units that aren’t necessarily on your device. They’ll be streamed, or they’ll be HTML5 or whatever it is. You’ll be able to see them and interact with them because you have a very fast connection. IronSource’s in-ad data GamesBeat: I was playing one of the first voice-driven car games, a trivia game from Drivetime. I wonder how big an opportunity that’s going to be. Shoham: It’s a good question. There are a lot of fans around everything that has to do with voice activation in the Alexa or Google Home world. For us it’s still an unknown, to be very honest about it. We haven’t seen a lot of our clients or other gaming companies going that route. It’s a niche. The hardware platforms are pushing a lot of the developers and software makers to build more content and more applications toward those products. For us it’s still an unknown. GamesBeat: It seems like a 5G-related phenomenon. You could only really do that with that much bandwidth. Shoham: Already more and more phones are being built that are 5G-compatible. It’ll happen. GamesBeat: With some of these changes, are you expecting a lot to change in terms of who are the biggest game companies? Shoham: Yes, I think there is. That relates to what we talked about before around the barrier to entry. Today the barrier to entry is changing, mainly because of hyper-casual. A game with a very deep core loop and metagame, it’s not easy to build a successful game like that today. But to go and build the next big hit in hyper-casual, we see that all the time. Studios pop up from nowhere and go to the top of the charts because of how well they can do their user acquisition and monetization. The barrier to entry is going down, because those games don’t require such complex core game mechanics. Look at the top charts, the top 20 or top 30. You see a lot of names there that you haven’t seen a month ago. It used to be the case that you’d see the giants, the companies you know, dominating the charts all the time. We’re not there anymore. It’s already changing. Now you have giants within the hyper-casual world, Voodoo and KetchApp and so on. But still, we see newcomers getting there without a lot of investment, without a huge team, without necessarily being the most experienced team in the world. They’re just generating the next hit game, being super viral, and doing user acquisition in an effective, efficient way. The giants in the hyper-casual world, two years ago you didn’t even know their name. Voodoo came out of nowhere. They existed for many years before they blew up, but you didn’t know about their titles. All of a sudden they’re dominating and they’re raising $200 million. It’s insane. They’re a great company, by the way. We’re working with them very closely. A lot of other hyper-casual companies need to look at them and try to learn from them. IronSource’s in-ad platform. GamesBeat: As far as the makeup of the adtech industry itself, what do you see happening there? Has some of the consolidation slowed down, or do you expect more? Shoham: I can tell you what we’re planning at IronSource, which reflects what we feel will happen with the rest of the market as well. We’re focusing on building a lot more tools for developers, mainly for game developers. That’s our core focus, giving them everything they need to manage their business and become scalable. We want to give them all the tools we can imagine. We call it our growth engine. That’s what we’ve been building in the past few years and continue to build. It includes mediation, but it also includes many other tools as well. We can talk about analytics and other tools we’re building. We’re either adding that to the platform by building it ourselves, or adopting other technologies and working with other companies, but that’s our approach. We see ourselves evolving into a platform that will answer a lot of the core needs and solve a lot of the core problems for game developers and game companies out there, big and small. That’s where we’re pivoting for the next few years in terms of product road maps, how much we’re investing, and so on. We feel that some other companies are going there as well. Some aren’t. You can see what’s happening with AppLovin. They’re going in a whole new direction, becoming a game developer themselves. Tapjoy bought a small mediation company. Some of the adtech leaders are still looking at how to evolve and add more services to make their products stickier and solve more problems for their clients. We’re much more than an adtech company in terms of what we provide with our services and how deeply embedded we are in any gaming company that works with us, especially if they’re using our mediation platform and the rest of the tools we provide. We’re much more of a technological partner, a monetization platform. We manage everything — user acquisition, monetization, analytics. We provide insights that you can take action upon. You can understand your ecosystem better, what’s happening with your game and why users aren’t interacting with ads or why they are. That’s how we see the platform and ourselves. We cover the biggest problems and the biggest needs that game developers have. We’re going to invest much more in 2019, 2020, and 2021. We have a long-term road map for the next three years that includes a lot of the things I was just talking about, whether building from zero or looking for opportunities in the market for acquisition. GamesBeat: Folks like Bidalgo are talking about automating a lot of the creative process for ads. Do you see that as an area where adtech companies can offer more to their customers? Shoham: Definitely. I talked about that earlier as one of our predictions or trends. A lot of adtech companies out there are investing in creative and creative automation — building more, having A/B/C/D tests for certain creatives. They’re making small tweaks that you might not necessarily see or understand as a user, but you can see the effect in the ads, and I see that a huge opportunity for game companies. At IronSource we have a team of around 50 people building creative and working on creative. That’s a huge investment from our end. They’re working on automation, technological tools, or just building as many assets as possible. We’re working on something very interesting that we’re calling an in-ad analytics platform. We released it in the middle of year and talked about how to analyze an ad, a creative. The way we analyze is exactly how you analyze a full game. We analyze heat maps, where users click, the drop-off point. If the game in a playable ad is too hard, you see the effect on users in how many installs come from the ad. If the game is too easy, you see that as well. We treat our ads and creatives exactly like a game company would treat a game, looking at all the metrics. That’s a service we provide to everyone building creatives with us. I’m sure that more and more companies will become more sophisticated there as well, because it’s bringing a lot of good results.
14 Dec 18
News Archives Uk

Fortnite challenges You can complete while playing games in Battle Royale. Not only can you kill and survive as long as possible in the course of a game, there are also other activities you can perform – from using certain weapons and objects to finding hidden objects – that will give you a boost in […]

13 Dec 18
VentureBeat
Daybreak Games has announced that PlanetSide Arena will be the next installment in the multiplayer sci-fi shooter series. It will be a battle royale game, and it’s coming out for PC on January 29. The first PlanetSide came out for PC in 2003. PlanetSide 2 followed in 2012. The series prides itself on its scale, supporting hundreds of players during single battles. These games have a sprawling, persistent world for players to explore, but Arena will focus on single matches inside one map (like the experience you’d expect from other battle royales like Fortnite and PUBG). Fortnite has especially become a giant hit, having earned over $1 billion in revenue across all platforms. Now more traditional shooter series, including Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, and Battlefield are entering the battle royale scene. PlanetSide Arena is the latest to follow the trend. And despite this upcoming launch, Daybreak Games is staying committed to supporting PlanetSide 2. Daybreak described Arena to GamesBeat as a bridge between PlanetSide’s present and future (alluding to an unannounced PlanetSide 3 or another game in the series). How will it be different from other battle royales? Most battle royales, like Fortnite, support 100 players at a time. Daybreak Games is touting that PlanetSide Arena could have 1,000 people in a single match. But it won’t launch with such an experience. At first, Arena will test things out with a 250-on-250 team mode. But 500 players is still significantly bigger than what most people are used to. Arena will also have traditional solo and team battle royale modes with 100 players. “We can already support 1,000 players in PlanetSide 2,” PlanetSide Arena’s executive producer Andy Sites told GamesBeat. “We set the Guinness record back in 2015 for the largest battle ever online, which was just under 1,200 players. We know it’s technically feasible. We just want to make sure — at the end of the day we want it to be fun. We might find out that 800 players in PlanetSide Arena is the max population that’s any fun. We might find out that it’s over 1,000. We want to start with 500 and go from there. PlanetSide Arena will also have a class system. You can pick one of three classes: Assault, Engineer, and Medic. Each one will have special abilities (the Medic, for example, can heal). Every player will also get a jetpack and a personal vehicle. This is a small vehicle with a short cooldown (about 20 seconds). It can help you explore the game’s large map or give you an escape if you’re desperate for one. Larger vehicles will also be available across the map. PlanetSide Arena’s classes. The weapons You start off with just a knife. You then have to scavenge the map for more items and weapons. This is similar to the typical battle royale setup. But you can also equip weapon blueprints before you enter a match. You don’t start with these guns in your inventory, but you can find terminals where you can buy them. You can purchase these weapons with a currency you acquire during the match. This currency is not persistent, meaning you can’t carry it over from one match to another. “You don’t get anyone starting the match with the upper hand, having currency immediately available,” Sites told GamesBeat. “There’s no pay to win option, anything like that.” Each season of the game will have different weapon blueprints, and blueprint guns from the last season will show up as regular weapon drops in the map during the new one. Fighting in PlanetSide Arena. How do you pay for the game? The base version of PlanetSide Arena will cost $20. This will give you access to the game’s first season pass. Like the system in Fortnite, it has you unlock items as you play the game. In Arena, this includes weapon blueprints and cosmetics. You’ll have to pay again for the next season’s battle pass. But each season will also have a free version of the battle pass. Like in Fortnite, this will give you significantly less rewards. But you’ll still be able to continue playing the game even if you don’t want to pay for additional season passes. And PlanetSide 2 Daybreak All Access Members will receive PlanetSide Arena and be granted closed beta access. Everyone who preorders PlanetSide Arena will also get access to a closed beta. Fortnite is king of the battle royale market, and the scene is becoming flooded with competitors. But PlanetSide Arena’s focus on giant battles, and the help of an established fanbase of PlanetSide 2 players, could help it become successful.