Esports Is a Content Delivery Platform, Period.

Yes, I have said this for a while now, but I have never taken the time to put my feelings on paper for all to read. Most of you who know me know I am very passionate when it comes to esports, and I have a burning passion for seeing and helping it continue to grow.

Esports at its core is about competition right? Human nature is to compete, compete for food, compete for land, compete for a better job, compete for a better car, better house, competing is something we do and don’t even think about it.

I have seen 70yr old women competing on Bejeweled on Facebook and talking smack to each other based on who has the highest score or have reached the highest level. I have coached young men in football and watched them compete during a football game, then watched them compete after the game at my house playing Madden. Competition is in our DNA and esports allows anyone to scratch their competitive itch regardless of how fast he or she can run, or high they can jump, how much they weigh or how tall they are.

Content is king! How many times have you heard that before? If you follow me or know me, then you will know I say this all the time. Content is king, and we need to take care of our king at all costs. Without written and video content then all of the competition that I have talked would be almost meaningless from a value proposition.

Good content that is engaging and draws in views and traffic is valuable to esports, it allows us, marketers, to be storytellers for our products and services. As traditional media keeps declining, you will see more and more non-endemic brands turn their marketing budgets to gaming and more importantly esports. When these brands turn to esports, we need to be ready to serve them and help them integrate their campaigns seamlessly into our ecosystem.

Within esports, there are a few types of vehicles that are driving and delivering content.

1. Dev’s/Publishers:
2. Org’s/Teams:
3. Media Companies:
4. Independent Content Creators/Players:

If you have been around long enough, then you have seen first hand how meaningful content from Devs/Publishers has grown over the years. I mean, some of the content that is being created around the Overwatch World League is some of the best I have seen.

I love content from Orgs and Teams when I can get it, sadly not many of them are producing good and regular content, this needs to change asap. People want to connect with their favorite players and who better to quench that thirst than the teams that they play for. Behind the scenes, please, let me connect with my favorite player… People know Player B is impressive at his job, but they want to know the real Player B, what makes Player B tick? What does Player B do daily, how does Player B live? It is all about the players. As more investment takes place into other Orgs, you will see the content efforts pick up.

The big one for me here is Media Companies… running a media company is very tough these days and is NOT a short-term play in my opinion. I do feel that the best esports focused media companies that are left standing within the next 12 to 36 months will do very well. I am confident you will see a few of them get acquired by larger brands that are forced to move into the esports space for impressions/views/users.

Number four on my list is so significant to me that I am going to take the time to write another blog post that only covers that topic.  Look for it to go up next month.

If the content is King, who is trying to own esports?

How Fortnite Took Over

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months and weeks, you have probably heard of a game called Fortnite. I wanted to take the time to share my thoughts on how/why Fortnite has taken over the gaming space, unlike any game we have seen before. Fortnite has gone mainstream as of late with clips from people playing the game showing up on ESPN, and many other news outlets in addition to countless celebrities playing and even live streaming the game.

What is it that made Fortnite so special in my opinion?

1. Free To Play
2. Multiplatform
3. Weekly Content
4. Ownership of Game Issues
5. Twitch Prime Partnership
6. Super Fun

1. Free To Play:
Why? Let’s think about PUBG for a moment. I am thinking to purchase PUBG cost me $30 on steam. After putting over 400 hours into PUBG, I felt as if my experience playing the game was lacking, I was faced with constant framerate issues, laggy servers, countless bugs, etc. You could say the same for H1Z1…

With Fortnite being an F2P game, I found myself way more understanding of any in-game issues surrounding the game account Fortnite didn’t cost me a dime to play.

2. Multiplatform:
With Fortnite being F2P on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and iOS you can see how something so simple as this has allowed Fortnite to leave other games and especially BR games in the dust.

3. Weekly Content:
The team at Epic have done a fantastic job understanding that gamers play a lot and they get fatigued when it comes to games. Epic combats this by rolling out weekly updates, content, new weapons, new player skins, etc.

4. Ownership of Game Issues:
I can summarize the amazing job Epic’s been doing regarding game issues and updates very easily… TRELLO… yes, Epic created a public Trello board to show everyone what bugs and fixes they are working on. This is unheard of and yet another reason why so many people trust in Epic and Fortnite to keep giving them an amazing gaming experience.

5. Twitch Prime Partnership:
The partnership with Twitch allowed a lot of gamers like myself who haven’t bought skins or the battle pass a chance to feel what it’s like to have a really cool character skin in-game. That simple deal leads me to spend a lot of money in the “ITEM SHOP” which is now the first thing I check when I load the game up.

6. Super Fun:
When someone asks me to describe what Fortnite means to me, I always say, SUPER FUN! I can play Fortnite for countless hours regardless if I’m playing solo, with a friend, or with a full squad.

7. Drake:
Sorry, I had to include this for fun.  If you don’t know, you should know.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on why Fortnite has exploded into one of the hottest games ever.

Streaming Platforms… Who Cares?

I was drinking my cup of coffee today while skimming over Twitter this morning as I have done every day for the past seven or eight years. My timeline is/used to be exactly the info that I wanted to see when I wanted to see it. Twitter is determined to piss me off and keep me from seeing the content that I want when I want, but that is a different blog altogether.

I saw an article that said ESL(I know some good folks over there and wish them the best) had chosen Facebook to be their streaming partner for CSGO and Dota 2 events. You can read more about that here https://www.dexerto.com/news/esl-surprises-everyone-partnering-facebook/42569. I made a snarky comment this morning that was met with some agreement and some disagreement. “ESL picked Facebook as their streaming partner tears of joy emoji and rolling on the floor laughing emoji here:).

One person even said that my tweet was unprofessional and bad for the industry, I can argue that point till the cows come home but, I’d rather talk about what is bad for the industry. That is decisions that are made that on the surface seem only to take into consideration of the profitability of the business. Am I the only one who views this partnership with Facebook as a pure money grab? I mean, why else would you choose to work so hard to take your core users and try to pull them from a platform they love called Twitch? It didn’t work too well just a year earlier when you moved from Twitch to YouTube, so why would moving from YouTube to Facebook be any different?

A year ago this month ELeague hit one million concurrent viewers on their Twitch channel for the major and I think ESL have hit numbers close to that on their Twitch channel as well. Twitch is in a very powerful position, and its parent company(Amazon, in case you live under a rock) will probably be the first trillion-dollar market cap company in the world.

“Twitch won’t play ball and give us what we want, we will take our business elsewhere.” I would have no clue if that were said, so please forgive my awful sense of humor. I can hear it now, “Scotty why are you carrying water for Twitch, do you owe Twitch or their employees a favor?” Hell no, I’m trying to push an agenda, that agenda is very simple. Twitch is the best streaming platform in the world, and the fans of the best esports in the world deserve to watch them on the best platform in the world.

When Facebook builds a better mousetrap than Twitch, let me know, and I’ll gladly try it out until then let’s try not to cater too much to the non-endemic brands that have proven they will dip in the space and dip back out of the space when it’s convenient for them.

The Race For Esports Viewership

In case you didn’t know we have a massive power struggle that has already started in the world of live streaming Esports and Gaming content.  YouTube Gaming announced yesterday that they have partnered with FACEIT in a multi-year deal that will bring the ECS(Esports Championship Series) to YouTube.

You can say this is a black eye for Twitch seeing how ECS was created out of a partnership between Twitch and FACEIT less than a year ago.  You can read about it here in case you missed that announcement last year.  Now, between you and me, I have no idea if YouTube just outbid Twitch to make this happen or if Twitch thought it wasn’t worth the investment and decided to pass, on the surface, it seems that they’ve lost something they put a lot of time and money in.

The next 12-24 months will be very exciting when it comes to streaming.  I think it’s obvious that Twitch is way out in front of everyone else.  But, after YouTube making this play for ECS I’m certain you will see other big moves very soon.  For now, I think we should all pay close attention to the following sites.

1. Twitch
2. YouTube
3. Beam
4. MLG.TV

I can hear you now… “Scotty, what are you on about mate. Beam is new.. and MLG pretty much has nothing going for it other than Call Of Duty events.”  Yes, you’re right.  Microsoft acquired Beam late last year, and I can tell you they’re putting a lot of time and effort into the platform.

What’s important to note is that Beam is a Microsoft product.  That matters because of Esports titles like Halo and Gears Of War.  Why would Microsoft want to allow the impressions/ad revenue that Halo/Gow generate go to Twitch’s coffers when they now own a site like Beam?  Now, I’m only speaking to this in regards to Esports Lan Events that would normally be streamed on Twitch for example.

MLG.TV gets a ton of shit from people within the Call Of Duty community.  Everyone use to say that “MLG killed COD” when streamers like Nadeshot and others made a move from Twitch to the MLG platform.  This is simply a load of bullshit.  COD was hitting some tremendous numbers on MLG.TV.  Fast forward, and most everyone is back to streaming on Twitch, and a lot of them have fewer viewers now than when they were on MLG.TV.  I still believe MLG.TV will be the exclusive home for all ATVI/BLIZZARD Esports streams in the future.

Let me know what you think about streaming sites, which site is your favorite and why?

Underage Players and Esports

As you may know, I’m a father of three awesome kids(19,18,13), and we play a ton of video games.  Hell, we’ve played a ton of competitive video games together as well.  So when I hear things like “thank god this event is 18+) it makes me sad.  At times I have a hard time understanding some of the stupid rules that are set up by gaming companies, federal, and state governments.

Want to drive a car? Get your learners permit at 15 and get an adult to ride around with you. Want to get married to the girl or boy of your dreams?  Not a problem.. you can do that at 14 years of age or younger in some states.  Want to shoot virtual characters in a video game at a LAN/Esports event? Fuck off..  I wish I were joking about the marriage part and the video games competition part.. but, sadly I’m not.

I’m no Lawyer, but for the life of me, I don’t understand how parental consent is not sufficient to allow “little johnny” a chance to play with his friends at an “open” LAN event.  Someone, please explain this to me?  Now, some of you will say “but, they shouldn’t be playing mature games in the first place.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 7.59.11 PM

(Team Heckleberry pictured above competing at a Call Of Duty LAN event in 2014)

Somewhere, there is a sixteen year of kid who will drive themselves to work tonight after school and work for a few hours at McDonald’s.  Then he/she will drive back home, clean up, finish up any homework they hadn’t finished, play some video games till midnight or so and do it all again tomorrow.  Yet, They’re not mature enough to play video games at a LAN event.

Before I go any further, I want to give you examples of games that are rated Mature, Adult, and Teen by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).  Just a quick note, there are other factors that come into play besides an ESRB rating of a game.

Mature 18+: Grand Theft Auto IV, Nioh, For Honor, and H1Z1: King of the Kill, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and pretty much every Call of Duty game created.

Adult 17+: Hatred, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Manhunt 2, Thrill Kill to name a few.

Teen: Overwatch, Halo 5, etc.

I wonder what sales, DAU’s, MAU’s, DLC sales, for the games listed as Mature or Adult would look like if underage players were blocked from playing the games.  I’ll go out on a limb and say sales and active users would take a massive hit.

Pretty much my entire issue is with “open” style events.  Open events should be just that, open.  This is a great way for these kids to travel to events with their parents(which is fun btw) and see their favorite game being played by their favorite pro players.  The best part is they get a chance to not only meet them, but some even get a chance to play them.

In the past, we’ve seen players who were considered top talent in games swap over from certain FPS console games to Halo 5(Rated Teen btw).  This player went on to win the North American Halo 5 championship with his professional Halo 5 team.  Kids shouldn’t have to stop playing their favorite game so that they can scratch their competitive itch that most all of us have.

I’m sure everyone will bring up traveling, and the full-time commitment required to play for one of the best teams in the world and I get that.  At the end of the day, we should ask the following questions and let parents be parents.

  1. Is the player good enough to play on my pro team?
  2. Is the player 18 or older?
  3. If no, does the player have parental consent and support from their parents?

Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are on the subject or tweet me.

Overwatch League Spot/City for $15 MILLION!?

I’m pretty sure unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few days you’re up to date on all of the Overwatch news regarding the Overwatch League.  There are rumors floating around that “spots” can be purchased from Overwatch with prices ranging from $2M – $15M.

Let’s talk about the price for a moment.  What’s $2M – $5M to a current team/org owner? A LOT!  I can almost count on one hand the current orgs who can afford a spot in this league based on the rumored price ranges.  Let’s stop and think for a moment… What if Blizzard doesn’t want traditional orgs to have league spots?  We’re just assuming they would want the nV’s, C9, TSM, Fanatic, NAVI’s and others part of this league.

What if they don’t?  What if Blizzard wants to truly set this league up just like a copy of the NFL for example?  How would that be received by the community?  Let us not forget this statement basedScreen Shot 2017-03-08 at 9.39.57 PM.png on this statement I can only assume Blizzard are going to take players rankings from the in-game season ranks and apply a top 500, 1,000, etc. list of players who can go into a “draft” for these CITIES… yes, CITIES not “spots.”

I fully believe you will see cities with arenas/stadiums potentially making bids to bring Esports orgs to their city in the future.  For now, I’m thinking you will see a lot of traditional sports teams jumping into the mix as a way to help fill stadiums/arenas on open dates and so on.  I also believe you will be seeing traditional sports teams from the NBA and the NFL making the largest investments into Overwatch.

With that being said, this leads me to my next question.  Does Blizzard need the current orgs for the league to have a chance?  No, the players hold the power, not the orgs.  For most Esports titles the players have all of the influencing power, and the orgs that they play for have very little influencing power.  There are only a few exceptions to this rule, and most of them are initially console based orgs like OpTic Gaming, and FaZe for example, who have a lot of influencing power.

Now that we’ve talked about traditional sports teams entering the mix for Overwatch teams.. the rumored numbers don’t seem so crazy do they?  What’s $10M to someone like Jerry Jones?  What’s $15M to Jerry Buss?  Regarding what they’re spending on their respectful teams, not that much.

With the power of new media and Esports if you can’t see how this would be a fantastic investment IF managed right, then I don’t know what else to tell you.  A lot of money is pouring into Esports right now, and the best part is we’re still on the ground level of it.  Just wait until the massive brands turn their marketing budgets and attention to the influencing power of Esports.

The $300,000 Irrelevant H1Z1 Event

Some of you will love this post, and some of you will hate it. I completely understand you regardless of if you agree or disagree with me on this but, hear me out. Please note I’m a huge fan of H1Z1 King of the Kill and at the time of writing this I have around 500 hours of play time invested into the game.

What is the $300,000 H1Z1 King Of The Kill event? I’ll tell you in Daybreak Games own words, “H1Z1: Fight for the Crown is a six-part esports docuseries coming this spring to The CW Network, with the finale featuring the first ever 5-man H1Z1: King of the Kill tournament! The 75-person tournament will feature 15 elite teams of five, including Echo Fox, Rogue Gaming, Panda Global and Denial Esports, all competing for their share of a $300,000 prize pool.”

Now that we all know what it is, I’m going to highlight a few of my issues with the event.

  • 75 person tournament based on five players per team for a total of 15 teams. Players must be ranked in the top 200 leaderboards based on “Solo scores.”
  • “The Tournament will be filmed on March 19th, 2017” in front of a live studio audience.
  • “The H1Z1: Fight for the Crown tournament will be broadcast on April 20, 2017 on The CW Network.”
  • “The actual tournament will consist of only one game where all of the prize money will be distributed. The tournament will be very high pressure and intense!”

THIS NEXT ONE IS A BIGGIE..

  • “Tournament Results and Confidentiality: Players and Teams in the Tournament must not disclose the winner of the Tournament. As the filming of the tournament will not be live, and the surprise of the winner is a crucial element to the commercial viability of the broadcast, disclosing the winner will cause the Tournament and the Sponsor irreparable harm. Therefore, all Players individually and Team agree to each pay one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) to Sponsor for any disclosure of any Player or Team’s finishing placement in the Tournament attributable to that Player or Team or disclosed by a person associated with the Player or Team. This is not a penalty but a requirement due to the loss of economic interest that Sponsor may suffer.”

Ok, let’s start from the top. The prize pool is excellent, and I’m happy Daybreak decided to go towards a team based event instead of the traditional free for all aka “solos” event.

My first issue is how players must qualify to play for a team in the event, why must all of the players be in the top 200 on the Twin Galaxies leaderboards for them to be eligible to be on a team? This makes zero sense, it’s almost like they’re saying org owners/players are too stupid to ensure they have the best team possible going into the event.

The tournament won’t be steamed in Twitch.tv in a live environment setting.. are you kidding me? Did someone forget the only reason the game is relevant, is because of Twitch and the streamers who continue to play the game regardless of all the issues the game has?

The tournament will be shown on “The CW Network” almost a month after the event is over. WHAT? WHO? WHY? Please come out and say this is all a joke?

Speaking of the event being aired on TV over a month after it’s over… you expect people to stay silent on the outcome of the event? Five players will win $180,000, and they can’t say a damn word to anyone? Have you lost your minds?

“Individual players and teams agree to EACH pay $100,000 to Sponsor for any disclosure of any Player or Team’s finishing placement.” Yes, I wanted to quote that part again as this is simply amazing! We live in a world where people want to consume content in real-time and yet we have an Esports event being treated like it’s something that should be on HBO.

This simply doesn’t work, can you imagine if E League did this with CSGO? People would be burning down the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA. Just recently the Call of Duty World League event had a delayed broadcast pushed one hour late to Twitch after it was aired on MLG.TV and it was laughable at best.

People in Esports and Gaming, please remember we don’t need TV to continue the incredible growth of Esports.. TV needs us! As their numbers keep declining and ours keep growing, a ton of traditional marketing budgets will continue to flow into our space.