‘Awful Business’ Or The New Gold Rush? The Most Valuable Companies In Esports Are Surging

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If you are looking for a way to quantify the rising influence of esports, look no further than FaZe Clan.

The video game lifestyle company has amassed 19 million social followers across YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, more than the Dallas Cowboys (7.2 million) and the New York Yankees (6 million) combined. Last month, it hopped on the esports franchise trend, licensing its name to Atlanta Esports Ventures’s Call of Duty League team, the Atlanta FaZe, and it says it’s landed a string of seven-figure sponsorship deals from companies that include Nissan and Gfuel.

The Atlanta FaZe partnership was the first of its kind for the nine-year-old company, which sponsors more than 40 individual video game players competing in six different gaming titles. FaZe Clan has a value of $240 million, landing it at No. 4 on the second annual Forbes ranking of the most valuable esports organizations.

“I wouldn’t trade businesses with anyone else on this list,” says Lee Trink, FaZe Clan’s co-owner and CEO.

He has a reason to be cocky. Video game competitions reach a global audience of 454 million, with at least 190 million more expected to be watching in three years, per industry analysts Newzoo. The average fan, according to Nielsen, is a millennial male, makes nearly $70,000 a year and favors streaming platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Mixer over traditional television. Sponsorship, advertising and media rights have almost doubled since 2017, to $897 million.

All told, global revenue for esports will reach $1.1 billion this year, up 27% from 2018, with North America accounting for 40% of that pie. Forbes now counts 13 companies with a value of more than $100 million, with the average valuation hitting $217 million, up 52% over last year.

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After Zynga deal, Empires & Puzzles maker is an inspiration for Finnish game industry

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Finland has more to contribute to the world of mobile gaming than Clash Royale and Angry Birds. We saw that last year when Zynga acquired Small Giant Games for at least $560 million (price tag for 80%).

I met Timo Soininen, CEO of Helsinki-based Small Giant Games, last week at the Slush tech event, which drew at least 25,000 people to Helsinki. He started the company in 2013 and had barely a dozen people to work on the first version of Empires & Puzzles, which debuted in the spring of 2017. The game grew so quickly that Zynga was lucky to snag Small Giant Games on its way up.

In our interview, Soininen said the company has grown to 60 people and is working on new games beyond its huge hit. Empires & Puzzles came about four years into Small Giant’s history, and it was its third title. Soininen said the team stepped back and analyzed the top 50 mobile games. They looked at all of the elements that made them successful, and carved these out almost like Lego pieces. They wanted to focus on a “midcore” game, or one with deeper depth and interaction that was easy to get into.

They wanted to make an “advanced casual game that was more like a hobby than a game,” Soininen said. “What if you used match-3 mechanics to target army shields and use it to bridge casual and hardcore games?”

And the rest was history. When Zynga acquired the company, it paid about $11.9 million per employee. In its last earnings call, Zynga said it was paying out bonuses to Small Giant Games because the game has become like a hobby for its fans. Finland has more than 220 game companies, but Small Giant Games is a rarity that many of its peers admire.

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Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’s 2.0 update gives it big social media boost

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Mobile Legends: Bang Bang may not be a household name just yet in the U.S. But the Moonton-owned multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) has exploded in Southeast Asia, and with the recent release of its 2.0 app update, social video views have boosted along with it.

According to video measurement company Tubular Labs, the game’s U.S. channel earned over 76 million cross-platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) views in October 2019. That’s a major month over month jump for MLBB (from about 56 million in September), and its best cross-platform performance in the last 12 months. It also placed them fourth among all gaming brands’ U.S. channels in October — passing up the likes of bigger names likes of Clash of Clans, Nintendo, Call of Duty and Apex Legends (among numerous others).

Each month, GamesBeat partners with Tubular Labs and CreatorIQ to provide a recap of the month’s most interesting social media trends in gaming.

Rolling out 61 different videos on the month, MLBB put a spotlight on character development, new game modes, additional features and highlighting gameplay. The approach isn’t necessarily unique (Overwatch, particularly, has profiled new characters in this way), but it’s an effective one that keeps users engaged and excited about the updated gameplay to come.

MLBB also encourages a growing community of influencers regularly publishing gameplay videos. In the U.S., Gosu General lays claim to being the top MLBB team in North America, and also generates the most views per month (12 million in October). Meanwhile, AdoboFlash is generating millions of views on a variety of games, including MLBB, Overwatch, Clash of Clans, etc.

According to CreatorIQ, an influencer platform that helps companies run brand ambassador campaigns with content creators, Gosu General has an engagement rate of 3.28% on YouTube, which CreatorIQ considers “good.”

Its subscriber base has marched upwards in the last six months, and monthly views have also been increasing in general.

AdoboFlash, on the other hand, may sport more subscribers on its YouTube channel, though its engagement rate is bit below Gosu General’s. The channel’s seen fluctuations in monthly views recently, although subscribers have slowly but surely been increasing.

Those creators potentially have a long way to go to catch up to gaming’s biggest influencers, however. JellyFGTeeV and Markiplier are three U.S. gaming influencers that top the 100 million-view mark each month, with Jelly at over 238 million on its own. Jelly’s cashed in with sponsors like Gear.com this year, while FGTeeV has worked with Activision, Nintendo and Epic Games, and Markiplier’s been sponsored by Alien: Blackout.

In October, over 2,200 gaming videos have been sponsored on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, with Apex Legends, Destiny and Activision (Deutschland) sponsored videos generating more views than any other brands’ sponsored gaming videos.

Digging further into October 2019 gaming videos, Fortnite’s Chapter 2 launch led the way with 40.8 million views. League of Legends’ “Phoenix” video received 29.2 million, and Fortnite’s blank screen earned 25.6 million. Showing the broad and enduring appeal of Fortnite, the game’s Spanish-language trailer around the launch picked up 17.5 million views — making it one of the 10 most popular global gaming videos on the month.

Media and Games Invest plc; subsidiary gamigo continues its growth path in Q3 2019 and significantly exceeds EBITDA of the full year 2018 after only 9 months in 2019

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Media and Games Invest plc; subsidiary gamigo continues its growth path in Q3 2019 and significantly exceeds EBITDA of the full year 2018 after only 9 months in 2019

  • Revenues grow by 34 % to EUR 43.0 million in the first 9 months of 2019
  • EBITDA increases in the first 9 months by 63% to EUR 12.3 million in 2019
  • Operating cash flow improves in the first 9 months 2019 by 33 % and grows to EUR 9.4 million
  • Successful integration of gamigo’s recent acquisitions almost completed

Media and Games Invest plc (“MGI”, ISIN: MT0000580101; Symbol: M8G) announces that its biggest subsidiary, gamigo AG, one of the leading publishers of online games in North America and Europe, has further increased its growth rate in the first nine months of 2019 and has significantly increased its operating profit over-proportionally. After only 9 months, gamigo Group’s EBITDA and EBIT were already well above the figures for the full year 2018. Revenues grew in the first nine months of 2019 by 34 percent to EUR 43.0 million, compared with EUR 31.8 million in the same period of the previous year. EBITDA improved by 63 percent to EUR 12.3 million after EUR 7.9 million in the first nine months of 2018. The corresponding figure for the entire previous year was EUR 11.1 million. EBIT tripled to EUR 4.7 million after EUR 1.6 million in the previous year. The total EBIT of the previous financial year was EUR 2.6 million. At EUR 9.4 million, the operating cash flow increased 33 percent year-on-year (2018, EUR 7.1 million). Cash and cash equivalents as of 30 September 2019 totaled EUR 20.9 million, compared with EUR 4.2 million at the end of 2018.

In the third quarter of 2019, the gamigo Group was able to increase its revenues by 41 percent to EUR 14.5 million following EUR 10.2 million in the third quarter of the previous year. EBITDA improved by 72 percent to EUR 4.0 million, up from EUR 2.3 million in the previous year. Thus, growth in revenues and earnings continued in the third quarter. In addition to organic growth, the largely completed integration of the WildTangent and TrionWorlds acquisitions contributed to this very positive business development. The synergy effects generated by the integration have resulted in costs rising significantly lower than revenues.

The outlook for further growth remains positive and the gamigo Group expects continued strong and profitable expansion. The launch of ArcheAge: Unchained in mid-October provides additional organic growth in the fourth quarter and further promising launches are in preparation for the following quarters.

Remco Westermann, Chairman of the Board of Directors of MGI: “After gamigo successfully completed most of the integration of the last acquisitions in the first half of the year, resulting in cost and efficiency gains, the Group was able to focus on organic growth in the third quarter. ArcheAge: Unchained was successfully launched in October. Further promising game launches are also being prepared for the coming quarters. With cash of around EUR 21 million, gamigo also has the financial resources to continue taking advantage of the existing organic and inorganic growth opportunities.”

The consolidated Q3 figures of gamigo AG are preliminary and unaudited. The Q3 report of gamigo AG is available for download in the Investor Relations section of the gamigo AG website at: https://corporate.gamigo.com/investoren/.

For the first time, the gamigo AG Q3 Report is also available as a video presentation. The video will be available from 02 December 2019 under the following link: https://corporate.gamigo.com/en/investors/

About Media and Games Invest plc:
Media and Games Invest plc, MGI, is a fast and profitably growing company focusing on a “buy, integrate, build & improve” strategy through organic growth and acquisitions in the media and games markets. Technology is actively used to create efficiency improvements and competitive advantages within the group. Synergy and integration potentials are important criteria for the expansion of the portfolio. The most important investments include gamigo AG, a fast-growing gaming and media company , ReachHero GmbH , a leading influencer SaaS platform, Applift GmbH , a leading media company specializing in mobile advertising, and Pubnative , an SSP platform for mobile advertising. Media and Games Invest is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on XETRA.

Google hires senior Assassin’s Creed developers to build Stadia games. Three experienced Ubisoft staff join Jade Raymond’s Stadia Games and Entertainment studio

Google has made some notable hires at its first-party Stadia studio, tempting three senior Assassin’s Creed team members away from Ubisoft.

VideoGamesChronicle reports the trio includes François Pelland, Mathieu Leduc, and Sébastien Puel, with the latter taking on the role of director general for Google’s Stadia Games and Entertainment studio.

The studio was formed in Montreal by another former Ubisoft exec, Jade Raymond. We interviewed Raymond last month about plans for the studio and how Google is making a “spectrum of bets” on Stadia.

All three of the new recruits have worked on Ubisoft’s flagship Assassin’s Creed series, as has Raymond. Puel, for example, was a key figure for the franchise and served as executive producer from 2009 (starting with Assassin’s Creed II) to 2014 (Assassin’s Creed Unity).

Palland was the executive director of development at Ubisoft Quebec, the studio behind Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Odyssey, also serving as senior producer on Assassin’s Creed III. He takes on the role of head of production and will be responsible for Google’s first-party game strategy on Stadia.

Leduc joins as art director, having previously been assistant art director for the first Assassin’s Creed, and leading art direction on both Watch Dogs games.