In this week’s TPoI, Activision-Blizzard’s Overwatch League kicks off, Japanese console market sees profit increase for the first time in 11 years, and new gaming innovations are announced at the 2018 Consumer Electronic Show.
Overwatch League Season One Debuts Exclusively on Twitch
The inaugural season for Blizzard’s Overwatch League Kicked off on Wednesday afternoon at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles.Forbes reports that the English stream for the tournament, which was broadcast exclusively on Twitch, had an average of nearly 300,000 concurrent viewers throughout the first night of matches.Gamespot featured the league’s first week schedule, which see’s each of the league’s 12 team’s playing at least once between Wednesday and Saturday.PC Gamer called the tournament a colossal undertaking which may help mainstream audiences see professional esports matches as legitimate spectator events.
Japanese Console Market See’s First Profit Increase in 11 Years
2017 was a great year for gaming as a whole, but also a spectacular year for the Japanese console market, with hardware sales increasing 73% over last year.Gamesindustry.biz reports that a key driver in growth was the Nintendo Switch, which sold over 3.3 million units in its first year on the market.Metro reports that exclusive launches like Splatoon 2, which was the first console title to hit 2 million sales in Japan this decade, pushed Japanese gamers to pick up new console hardware. Metro also speculates that the Japanese Console Market will continue to see positive growth with the launch of more Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation 4 exclusive releases throughout 2018.
New Virtual Reality Tech and Gaming Innovations Unveiled at CES 2018
Companies including Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Nvidia have been showcasing new products at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, all week. Some of the most exciting gaming news includes HTC announcing their latest VR headset, the Vive Pro, whichVerdict praised for its increased resolution and wireless functionality through an additional adapter.The Verge also featured Sennheiser’s new Game Zero Headset, which includes features like pressure sensitive materials and suede ear cuffs. Outlets are speculating that more gaming related announcements will be published before the event concludes this weekend, with press excited to see more gaming focused products from companies like Nvidia, who have so faronly shown off a new lineup of large format monitors.
In this week’s TPoI, Riot co-founders to lead development on a new title, Oculus reveals new standalone headset, and the ESRB says that in-game loot boxes aren’t gambling.
Riot Co-founders to Lead Development On New Game
Announced via a blog post on Wednesday, Riot co-founders Brandon Beck and Marc Merril have shifted their focus from leading the company to leading the development of a new Riot
Games production. Gamesindustry.biz reports that CFO Dylan Jadeja, CTO Scott Gelb and president Nicolo Laurent will handle company operations and that Beck and Merril will primarily focus on development of the new title for the time being. Glixel reports that the two founded the company in Los Angeles in 2006 as a company dedicated to working on the MOBA, League of Legends. Eurogamer featured a quote from the pair which says that game development is, “…what we really love to do.”
Oculus Reveals New Standalone Headset
At their OC4 conference in San Jose this week, Oculus released details of their new standalone virtual reality headset, Oculus Go. Engadget reports that the headset features a WQHD 2560×1440 resolution and built in audio, doesn’t require a computer or phone to run and is thus changing the VR landscape. Digital Trends posted a breakdown of the device and said that the high resolution and wide field of view allow it to provide a VR experience in between that of mobile and high end-computer tethered VR headsets. Mashable’s Monica Chin reported that the lack of cables and external devices made Oculus Go more appealing than standard VR headsets.
The ESRB Rules that Loot Boxes Aren’t Gambling
Thursday, the Entertainment Software Rating Board publicly announced that in-game loot boxes and drops, like the loot boxes popularized in games like Overwatch and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, do not qualify as gambling. Forbes provided further clarification from the ESRB that states that these loot boxes are not considered gambling because the end user is always guaranteed to receive something and can’t lose their chance at a prize. Kotaku reports that the ESRB compared loot boxes to trading card packs and said that, while the chances of receiving something rare are low, gamers have a 0% chance of receiving nothing when opening a pack. PC Gamer followed up on the story and reported that the European games rating body PEGI and the UK trade group Ukie, agree with this stance will not make further rulings on the matter.
In this week’s TPoI, Activision Blizzard announces base pay for Overwatch League players, Sony raises Playstation Plus fees in Europe and Australia, and Supergiant Games releases their new game, Pyre, to critical success.
Activision Blizzard Announces Overwatch League Standard Player Contract Terms
Announced on their website Wednesday morning, Activision Blizzard announced their new contract regulations and standards for professional esports players participating in their new Overwatch League. ESPN reports that contracted players will earn a minimum of $50,000 a year and are entitled to employer-sponsored housing, health insurance and retirement savings plans. Dot Esports confirms that players will also be awarded fifty percent of any team performance bonuses. Scouting for season one players begins on August 1st and lasts till October 30th, according to IGN. Regulated contracts for esports players have only recently been implemented in the esports scene, with Riot Games implementing a Players Association for their North American League Championship Series this past June, therefore it remains to be scene how fans and competitors alike will view the changes.
Sony Raises PlayStation Plus Fees in Europe and Australia
Sony emailed European and Australian PlayStation Plus members that membership fees will increase as of midnight BST on August 31st. Gamesindustry.biz reports that different payment plans will change independently, with the annual price increasing by 25% while members that pay month-to-month will have to pay 17% more. Engadget reminds readers that this price increase follows an American price hike that occurred last September and that European fans should have expected the hike eventually. PlayStation Plus is required to play games online on the PlayStation 4 and also gives members a set of free games to play each month which GameSpot mentions will include Downwell and Just Cause 3 for August.
Supergiant Games Releases Pyre
Supergiant Games, makers of Bastion and Transistor released their latest multiplatform game Pyre on Tuesday to critical success. The role-playing sports hybrid has found many fans in the critical space, with IGN, GameSpot, and Polygon giving the game top marks for its innovative gameplay and detailed art assets. Like other games from Supergiant, the game has inspired many think pieces about it’s meaning and how it affects the player, including this article by Julie Muncy at Wired about competition in the world of Pyre. Unlike many sports games, the game is largely narrative driven and The Ringer writes that the decision to focus on the story rather than an online multiplayer mode made sense for focusing on the message and core gameplay of the game.
In this week’s TPoI, No Matter Studios modifies game title to avoid legal battle, Blizzard reveals revenue data for Overwatch, and E3 announces a new series of panels for this year’s convention.
No Matter Studios Avoids Dispute With Bethesda & Zenimax
Indie developer No Matter Studios was recently forced to change its upcoming game title Prey for the Gods to Praey for the Gods after Bethesda and parent company Zenimax filed a trademark complaint for using the word “Prey”, as it’s the same spelling they’ve used for their latest title. IGN reveals that No Matter Studios seriously considered fighting it but decided against it as they’ve already spent a tremendous amount of time and effort raising funds via Kickstarter. According to Heavy, Bethesda’s legal team also clashed with Minecraft developer Mojang in 2011, which was eventually settled out of court. Hardcore Gamer predicts that readers are more likely to lean towards No Matter Studios than Bethesda and Zenimax, and is hopeful that this won’t end up hurting development in the long run.
Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch Earns $1 Billion to Date
Debuting in May of last year, Activision Blizzard announced that multiplayer and FPS Overwatch has already made more than $1 billion according to to their fiscal Q1 2017 financial statement. VentureBeat disclosed that this is the company’s fastest-growing franchise ever. GameRant surmises that part of its success stems from keeping fans engaged with ongoing limited-timed events, modes and skins. May 24 is Overwatch’s launch anniversary, and VG24/7 reports that Blizzard President Michael Morhaime may have a celebratory event or surprise in store for fans that day.
E3 Introduces New Panel and Series, “E3 Coliseum”
For the first time ever, E3 will be officially open to the public and that’s not all. GameSpot revealed that Journalist and Video Game awards host Geoff Keighley announced E3 Coliseum, a two-day series of talks and panels from gaming companies occurring on June 13-14. This new series is intended to take attendees behind the scenes of the gaming experience and VG24/7 disclosed that Bethesda Softworks, Microsoft, Gearbox Publishing, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Ubisoft are just a few of the publishers that will make an appearance at the panels. CinemaBlend hopes Gearbox Publishing has Borderlands 3 in the works, and predicts this year’s E3 to have one of the highest turnouts. For those unable to attend, Polygon reports that a live stream will be available to view on Twitch and other platforms.
In the first TriplePoints of Interest of 2017, the big stories this week center around an Overwatch milestone, Switch prediction, and a new tabletop-focused version of PAX.
It’s 2017. Welcome to the future!
Overwatch Hits 25 million Player Milestone
Overwatch, Blizzard’s competitive team-based shooter that debuted in May 2016, now has more than 25 million players – up an additional 5 million from the 20 million milestone which the company celebrated in October. Thanks to the game’s constant updates, achievements, and new content, Polygon noted that the game has already become a classic.
Analyst Prediction: Nintendo Switch Will Sell 40 Million Units Through 2020
Research firm DFC Intelligence has predicted that the Nintendo Switch will sell 40 million units through 2020. If this forecast is to be true, Nintendo Switch sales in the first four years of the product’s life would account for 40% of Wii U’s lifetime sales (which is a somewhat conservative estimate according to Forbes). Forbes contributor Paul Tassi, is skeptical regarding DFC’s estimated sales, stating that its too early to know whether or not the Switch will be as successful as the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, noting that the product is positioned as a secondary console and is competing against other Nintendo products as well.
PAX Unplugged Announced, Focused on Tabletop Games
AX Unplugged, a new annual event focusing on tabletop games, was announced today at PAX South. The convention is set to debut November 17-19 of this year in Philadelphia. Organizers say the convention will highlight “board, card, and other tabletop games” and the event as a whole will include game reveals, tournaments, panels and special events. IGN says tabletop games will still appear at other PAX events, but Unplugged will focus on stepping away from digital gaming.
Conventions and the video game industry go hand-in-hand: there’s the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), Germany’s Gamescom, Comic-Cons, and more. Other than QuakeCon (and EA Play this year), it’s rare for publishers to host their own consumer-facing “mega event.” Most companies like Capcom, Ubisoft, and Nintendo share the stage and make special reveals during E3 (which is no longer open to the public) and other general gaming events.
Blizzard Entertainment is not like many companies, though as its 10th annual BlizzCon wrapped on November 4-5 celebrating all of the brand’s biggest franchises. Selling out in roughly 10 minutes, it is safe to say this annual convention is one of the most popular in the industry with no signs of slowing down!
Hosting a convention to promote your own properties and celebrate your fan base can be an extremely effective brand marketing strategy — evidenced by Blizzard. Publisher conventions can make fans feel rewarded, important,and valued. It gives attendees a chance to meet the artists and developers behind their favorite games, creating a personal connection that helps strengthen their brand affinity.
In order to understand why publishers should host conventions of their own, TriplePoint takes a look at what makes BlizzCon an impressive marketing tool, unique from other experiences, and what other companies can do to provide that same value. TriplePoint has taken all of this into account and has established five key BlizzCon 2016 brand marketing takeaways:
Surprising Announcements / Unique Information Distribution Structure
Each year, BlizzCon is home to new reveals and big surprises surrounding its IPs (World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch). Key highlights from this year’s BlizzCon included the eagerly awaited new Overwatch hero, Sombra, the Overwatch League announcement, Diablo 3’s upcoming Necromancer class, and Hearthstone’s new expansion Gadgetzan, and more. Interestingly enough this year Blizzard chose to separate its product news from esports news, with product on the first day and esports on the following day.
Blizzard’s strategy to lead its announcements with product news is because unlike product, which has more timing flexibility, esports stories need time to develop — tournaments need to be played and winners need to be determined. Having designated days for both types of stories ensures a steady flow of information for the press and consumers. Press will have enough time to cover, news will be easier to digest, and information won’t get lost — they can dominate the news cycle.
Watch the Best of the Best Play
Esports are another unique aspect of BlizzCon that is surprisingly not explored by other video game conventions.The best players from around the world gather to BlizzCon to showcase their skills and compete for huge prizes. The convention center is split into several parts where each space is devoted to specific tournaments in Blizzard’s gaming library. Having world championship tournaments during BlizzCon generates tournament results and team interview coverage, fandom, and an overall event spectacle.
Network with Industry Professionals
BlizzCon serves as a mecca, drawing in fans from all over the world and from different backgrounds. Since there is something for everyone, BlizzCon was filled with cosplayers, community managers, artists, press, developers, representatives from other games, tech companies and more. BlizzCon is a dense concentration of video game industry professionals and offers immense opportunity to connect with key industry players.
Get Up Close and Personal with Devs and Artists
One of BlizzCon’s greatest strengths is being able to generate a personal connection with fans through intimate events like Signing Areas and Q&A’s. Often times at conventions developers have little time to talk about their games, only showing cutscenes and trailers of games without being able to provide details on other aspects — not the case at BlizzCon. Not only should developers and artists interact with press, but the community itself is just as crucial. Q&A’s set time aside for the community and helps them understand where developers and artists are coming from when designing a game. Blizzard understands this and does it well.
BlizzCon had many demo stations for Blizzard’s key titles, filled with new content yet to be released to the public. This concept is not new for video game conventions, but BlizzCon has the advantage of knowing virtually all consumers will be interested in all demo stations; therefore can optimize and personalize the content for the trade show attendees (vs. a content free-for-all at an event such as PAX). BlizzCon’s demo stations allow players to take their time, experience the new changes implemented into franchises they are deeply invested in, and provide valuable feedback. Sure, companies can host events for press to test a demo, but it’s equally important for the game’s community to experience it. It brings insight from different skill levels and backgrounds as well as tests what works and doesn’t work with its most important stakeholders — the fans.
BlizzCon is a celebration of not only Blizzard’s video games but also its dedicated community they’ve cultivated for many years. Conventions can serve as an effective marketing tool, providing long-term value and building faith with your audience. In the end, players want games to succeed and to have fun. Personalized trade events such as BlizzCon are a great way to connect and celebrate with the fans.
This week’s TriplePoints of Interest features Twitch’s acquisition of Curse, Facebook and Unity are creating a gaming platform, Paragon’s open beta is playable on PS4 and PC, and Blizzard trolls “gg ez” trolls in Overwatch.
We’re proud to say that we’ve been INCREDIBLY busy with the launch of Pokémon GO, an understatement considering the social phenomenon it has become in just a week since launch! The news cycle was dominated by the game, as we’ve outlined below, and all of us at TriplePoint have also been busy exploring the world in search of our favorite Pokémon. Head to our website at www.triplepointpr.com for a little Easter Egg, and input the Konami code for a pleasant surprise. Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 11 – Featuring Pokémon GO!!!
Tencent is now the proud owner of Clash of Clans thanks to their most recent acquisition. The Chinese publisher continues to establish its dominance in the mobile space. Over in Korean, a female Overwatch pro-player gets accused of cheating because she’s “unbelievably” good. In other news, we’ll be crying over our empty wallets as Valve launches off its annual Steam Summer Sale. Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of June 20
This week in TPoI, we covered several important industry news stories outside of E3, including Gawker’s bankruptcy, Overwatch’s first major tournament, and Michael Bay’s journey into VR gaming. Additionally, if you’d like to hear about some of the top announcements at E3 this year, please check out our roundup on the TriplePoint blog, here. Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of June 13
Calling all agents: Overwatch has finally launched this week — and we’re not the only ones excited about it! The game has been getting rave reviews and the hype train shows no signs of stopping. In other news, Tencent could soon be the proud owner of Clash of Clans, and the company behind Rolling Stone will be adding a new site devoted to gamers.