Latest News

01/25/24: The Palworld Problem; Riot lays off 530 staff; 100 Thieves sells drink company

Medias First Morning Read

Thursday January 25, 2024

Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports and Gaming brief.

Developer Riot Games has laid off 530 workers, or 11% of its staff, in an effort to refocus on its core business after nearly doubling its employee base since 2019. The move, mirrored by dozens of layoffs from high-profile companies both last year and early in 2024, follows the ongoing trend of companies resizing following swells in the popularity of, and consumer investment in, games during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of the significant investments we’ve made aren’t paying off the way we expected them to,” Riot CEO Dylan Jadeja, who took on the role in September 2023, said in a statement. “Our costs have grown to the point where they’re unsustainable, and we’ve left ourselves with no room for experimentation or failure – which is vital to a creative company like ours. All of this puts the core of our business at risk.”

Riot will shift away from some of its more ambitious projects, such as Riot Forge, which shepherded third-party games focused on Riot’s Runeterra universe. Riot’s core live games business, including League of Legends, VALORANT, Teamfight Tactics, and Wild Rift, will be the focal point moving forward. Some other products, such as fighting game Project L (which will be a live service title) are still in the works as well.


Overwatch esports are back following the shuttering of the Overwatch League, with Blizzard Entertainment and ESL FACEIT Group forming the Overwatch Champions League, a new competitive ecosystem for Overwatch 2. Like most EFG-operated esports circuits, the OWCS will feature an open format, with a focus on regional competition leading into two major in-person tournaments at EFG’s DreamHack festivals later in the year. Competition will play out on EFG’s FACEIT platform across three regions: North America (which includes Latin America), Europe/Middle East/North Africa, and Asia.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia continue to play out in esports as well, with the International Esports Federation suspending Russia’s membership following an investigation spurred by a complaint from the IESF Ukrainian delegation. The Russian Esports Federation, which had previously had membership suspended during the outset of the country’s war against Ukraine, had established offices inside occupied “Ukrainian territorial boundaries” following Russia’s gaining of that ground during military action. The move means that Russian players can still compete in IESF events, but not under their nation’s flag.

Publisher Hi-Rez Studios and developer Titan Forge Games are revitalizing SMITE, their multiplayer online battle arena title, with the upcoming launch of SMITE 2 and a reimagining of its esports ecosystem. The move comes at a time when most companies are either scaling back or looking to third parties to level up their esports arms, but the companies feel good about their bet: The 10th SMITE World Championships in mid-January, where SMITE 2 was initially announced, played to a sold-out crowd at Esports Stadium Arlington. SMITE 2 will include a massive engine update for the game as well as updates to its mechanics, with an expected release in late 2024.

Saudi Arabia’s Esports World Cup announced the tournament’s first title Tuesday and a multi-year deal to make MOONTON Games’ Mobile Legends: Bang Bang a staple of the competition for years to come. EWC, announced in October 2023, will bring one of the world’s most popular mobile games and most-watched esports titles to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this summer, with the biggest prize pool in MLBB history up for grabs at the event. MLBB’s Mid Season Cup will include a $3 million prize pool, and EWC will also play host to the largest-ever MLBB Women’s Invitational, with a $500,000 prize pool.


EA SPORTS FC and UEFA are expanding the eChampions League, an esports competition featuring FC Pro players representing Champions League soccer clubs. This year, participation will exclusively feature Champions League team representatives, marking a shift toward fully blending the traditional sports and esports components of the eCL. Competition will begin in May, with a ​​$280,000 prize pool and qualification for the inaugural $1 million FC Pro World Championship on the line.

Chipotle is expanding its footprint in the fighting game space and becoming a partner for the TEKKEN World Tour for 2024. The move coincides with the launch of TEKKEN 8, a marquee moment for the fighting game title similar to Capcom’s boom thanks to Street Fighter 6 in 2023. Chipotle sponsors Capcom’s esports events as well, and found noteworthy success as an advocate for the space – the brand has set an example for what non-endemic integration into esports should look like, as well as the benefits of it, in recent years. TEKKEN World Tour 2024 will also feature partners including Venum, Uniqlo, and Victrix by PDP.

Like many esports companies, 100 Thieves is realigning its vision to its core business, and those efforts have borne some fruit: The gaming lifestyle organization has sold its drink business, Juvee, to Sprecher Brewing, a Milwaukee-based soft drinks company. The move follows 100 Thieves’ announcement that it would spin out Juvee as well as its game development vertical in late 2023. It’s a win-win for Sprecher, which will take on its first energy drink line through the purchase, and the Juvee team, which is growing to a staff of 150 following the acquisition, according to former Juvee co-founder turned Sprecher CMO Sam Keene.

FaZe Clan has struck a multi-million dollar deal with Rollbit, a crypto casino and betting company, in a non-U.S. focused play. The big money in esports sponsorships continues to come from this sector, and with limited options in the marketplace, companies like Rollbit (which is currently not legally playable in nearly 30 countries including the U.S.), Thunderpick, and other betting and crypto sites are the only reliable outlet for major cash injections in exchange for jersey space or other tangibles. The partnership comes amid the acquisition of FaZe by GameSquare, which has verticals in content creation, esports through its Complexity Gaming squad, and multiple other industries.

2024 Top Women in Esports & Gaming

Coming soon…

The 2024 Top Women in Esports & Gaming recognizes the achievements by women who work and or/play in the esports and gaming space. Celebrate the advancements women have made in the industry across leadership, talent and more. Entries open in late March – are you ready to win?



Gaming live streams: Which platforms do American gamers use?

Three-fifths of American gamers – those who play for at least one hour each week on any device – indicate they watch gaming live streams, and YouTube Gaming is the most popular destination (32%). Twitch takes the second spot (27%) with over a quarter of gamers viewing live streams on the Amazon-owned platform. Facebook Gaming (21%) and Discord (16%) also command sizeable popularity.


The “2024 Live-Streaming Esports & Social Trends Report” by GameSquare Holdings Inc. and Stream Hatchet offers vital insights into the rapidly evolving world of live-streaming and esports.

This comprehensive report covers key growing trends such as:
– The growing popularity of RPGs and action-adventure games
– How simulcasting is impacting live-streaming
– Esports viewership continues to grow
– The significance of creator-driven events and how they drive engagement
– The effectiveness of content creators in promoting unique experiences

The report also explores the synergy between performance marketing and influencer marketing, emphasizing the evolution of marketing strategies in this domain.

This essential resource is a must-read for understanding current trends and future directions in live-streaming and esports.

Stay ahead of the competition!


Newly released Palworld has become a study in what gamers want, and how much they care about wholly original concepts. Palworld became Steam’s most-played game this week, removing Counter-Strike 2’s stranglehold on that spot for the first time in months. The game includes elements of survival games like ARK: Survival Evolved and creature capturing franchises like Pokémon, and it has been panned by some critics for flying too close to copying those titles in multiple ways. Developer Pocket Pair, Inc. is known for riding the wave of the most popular titles of the day: Craftopia, launched in 2020, featured motifs and visual styles that mimicked Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example. The commercial success of Palworld, however, suggests players will flock to the concepts that they resonate with – a dark Pokémon title for adults, or a light and animated ARK, depending on who you ask – regardless of if the IP looks a little similar. In fact, in this case, that probably helped Palworld’s cause: The repeated mentions of its proximity to Pokémon built brand awareness, drew mainstream coverage, and resulted in the first smash hit of 2024.

Layoffs in the gaming space are even more dire when you look at 2022, according to reporting from Gamefile’s Stephen Totilo on data from developer Farhan Noor. Around 10,500 people in the games industry were laid off in 2023 – a startling number, but one that’s not too far off what went on in 2022 to much less fanfare. According to Noor’s data, around 8,500 games jobs disappeared in 2022. The lack of reporting on 2022’s cuts, Noor said, is likely because the 2023 layoff spree “hits closer to home,” with many rounds coming in the U.S. rather than abroad. Either way, this is shaping up to be a three-year trend – and perhaps longer, as Noor is working on 2021 figures now to help get a gauge of where the industry really is on a global scale vs. an annual basis.

Maybe mark it as a five-year downturn: Senior leaders in the games industry expect 2024 and 2025 to be just as rough as last year, according to After a year of tightening belts via layoffs, including multiple rounds at some major companies, it’s likely closures will be the theme of 2024, with investment still dried out and many businesses still adjusting after being caught unprepared to reach profitability.

2024 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards

Now welcoming to the batter’s box… Colin Cosell

This just in – Colin Cosell is set to host the 12th annual Cynopsis Sports Media Awards on April 11th at The Lighthouse, Pier 60 in NYC. Want to join in on the fun? Be in it to win it – enter today.


Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark is on her way to an NCAA scoring record and quickly becoming one of the best-known players, not just in collegiate, but in the women’s scene overall. As of this morning, how many points does she need to get to become the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s hoops history? (Email [email protected] with your answer, and be sure to include your name, company and city).Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is getting an epilogue in early 2024 as well. When is that capstone to the DLC expansions scheduled to release? Answer: January 11. Kudos: Tom Moore | Kalt Productions, Los Angeles; David Westberg | SAG•AFTRA Federal Credit Union, Burbank, California

Cynopsis Team

Lynn Leahey
Editorial Director
@Lynn_LeaheyKerry Smith
Division President
Access IntelligenceRobbie Caploe
VP/Group Publisher
Executive Director of Sales
Albert Nassour
Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
Rob Hudgins

Check out more jobs in Cynopsis Classifieds »
Job of the day
NEXSTAR/Irving: Work collaboratively with the Broadcast Leadership Team to lead sales strategies across all stations, divisions, and platforms. The role will work with station leadership, the National Sales Organization, and directly with clients to drive optimal revenue opportunities for all of Nexstar’s digital channels. Full info HERE



Play a pivotal role in providing project management and administrative oversight for the UP & Aspire Client Solutions Ad Sales team as well as develope and execution of linear and digital sponsorships, ensuring all elements related to the sponsorships are coordinated, scheduled, and executed correctly. Full info HERE

HAYSTACK NEWS/NYNY, LA, CHICAGO: Responsible for developing large, meaningful partnerships to drive strategic and creative solutions for clients. You relish the opportunity to help advertisers build their brands by supporting the world’s most premium news publishers. Full info HERE



Drive new revenue for our media around Los Angeles and beyond as well as building relationships with prospects and clients. Full info HEREACCOUNT EXECUTIVE DIRECT RESPONSE >>
Seeking an energetic achiever with excellent written & organizational skills for role to assist in growing revenue for dynamic Direct Response Team: required: BA Degree, Min 2 yrs DR Experience. Bilingual (English/Spanish) Wide Orbit Exp a +. Full info HEREMEDIA COORDIATOR DIRECT RESPONSE >>
Seeking an energetic achiever with excellent written & organizational skills for role to assist in growing revenue for dynamic Direct Response Team: required: BA Degree, Bilingual (English/Spanish) Wide Orbit Exp a +. Full info HERE



Grow in billings, income, and experience on a team that continues to lead our industry. Take your career to the next level with a company that is transforming cities and delivering on our promises to our clients and to our long-standing Municipal and Transit Authority partners. Full info HEREACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Grow in billings, income, and experience on a team that continues to lead our industry. Take your career to the next level with a company that is transforming cities and delivering on our promises to our clients and to our long-standing Municipal and Transit Authority partners. Full info HERE

Support the Ad Sales team by prospecting, selling and expanding the Company’s advertising revenue base. The candidate will have a strong media sales background with a network of industry clients and prospects as well as establish a book of business and exceed pre-established activity and sales quota utilizing CRM tools to document sales activity. Full info HERE


NYC (Hybrid)

Responsible for coverage of assigned advertising agencies and clients specifically dedicated to representing AMG linear, digital and streaming platforms. Also grow and maintain existing clients as well as prospect and close new business. Work closely with clients and advertising holding companies ensuring AMG is a ‘must-buy’ for advertisers. Full info HERE


(Remote, Hybrid)

Communicate the value and brand strength of the Network to advertisers and agencies as well as create compelling presentations that convey the benefits and features of TV One programming and the TV One viewing audience. Full info HERE

(Remote, Hybrid)

Manage the delivery and arrival of commercial content working closely with Manager of Commercial Operations to resolve conflicting traffic instructions as well as oversee maintenance of E-faxes and storage of client files. Responsible for entering original account data and revisions into the traffic system. Full info HERE

(Remote, Hybrid)

Establish business relationships with agency counterparts and internal departments including: Pricing and planning, inventory management, marketing, traffic and billing, also fulfill advertiser allocations requests, ensure stewardship delivery in accordance to deal guarantees, send commercial airing times, and update clients of programming. Full info HERE


Represent Future Today, selling an expansive portfolio of O&O CTV apps, inclusive of HappyKids, Fawesome, The LEGO Channel, FilmRise, Blippi. 5+years selling linear/streaming/OLV exp req. Biz dev position inclusive of direct, pmp/pg. Solid relationships; agency & client. Full info HERE

NYC, Hybrid, Remote

Communicate the value & brand strength of Urban One Networks to advertisers & agencies. Create compelling presentations that convey the benefits & features of our programming and the viewing audiences. Proactively keep clients informed of pertinent account and network information. Min. 4+ yrs national advertising sales or equivalent sales exp. Full info HERE

FL/NYC Remote
Lead, manage, develop, and grow Ad Sales teams. Attract and retain the best talent. Work with leadership team to set, achieve, and grow revenue targets across OOH, Digital and Experiential. Instrumental in driving the team to exceed all expectations and goals. 15+ years’ experience in advertising, media, and relevant sales management roles. Full info HERE


Achieve revenue and growth targets across linear and digital. Identify and execute strategies which result in exceeding revenue targets. Develop and execute effective sales strategies that showcase as well as maximize overall revenues for the overarching National Sales division. 7-10 yrs exp. in advertising, media & relevant sales management roles. Full info HERE

Produce best-in-class promotional spots, accurately reflecting WHYY’s brand mission, from strategy through management approvals. Write killer scripts for audio and video to engage audiences. Organize promotional spot production schedule for video and audio spots needed for TV, FM, digital and social platforms. 10-15+ years’ experience. Full info HERE

Develop a cogent strategy for developing and publishing WHYY news content across social media and emerging digital platforms. Convey and create SEO, social media and digital best practices in concert with the digital staff with the focus of informing and developing the newsroom’s digital muscles. Five or more years of journalism experience. Full info HERE

Represent FETV & FMC to media community via ongoing communications & relationship building. Maintain & develop strong working relationships w/both agencies & internal departments in support of sales efforts. Work w/sales management, pricing & planning to achieve quarterly revenue goals. 5+ yrs media sales exp. preferably in cable TV- agency exp. +. Full info HERE

Proactively identify, research, and develop new opportunities for our family-friendly programming blocks on ABC, CBS, NBC, The CW, Telemundo, & other media & digital/social outlets. Support creation and present strategic, cross-media concepts to multiple stakeholder groups that meet our client’s business objectives. 8 + yrs of business dev. exp. Full info HERE

BIG FISH ENTERTAINMENT/NYC/NJ: Coordinating onboarding for all new hires.
Administering the benefits and payroll changes for employees accurately.
Maintaining an efficient filing system—paper and electronic, for employee and company records related to their job functions. Building a successful bridge between management and employees. 7 yrs entertainment exp. preferred. Full Info HERE

: Oversee media systems operations, including daily operations as well as development and implementation of overall media supply chain. Work with external vendors and internal stakeholders on design and implementation of hardware and software solutions for media systems. 7+ yrs of work exp. in the areas of television, media, or consumer products. Full info HERE

GAME ON MEDIA SOLUTIONS/Remote: Game On Media Solutions is looking for an independent business development oriented sponsorship sales representative. Focus will be on TV/Streaming project opportunities for brands that include product integration and placement. This is an Independent Contractor performance compensated opening. Attractive fees can be earned for closed deals. Full info HERE

THE LEDE COMPANY/NYC: Full-service communication, strategy, and social impact consulting firm, specializing in corporate, brand, entertainment, and nonprofit sectors, is seeking a Brand Assistant to join the Brand team in our New York office. The Assistant will play an integral role in supporting accounts for a wide variety of Fashion, Beauty, CPG and Lifestyle clients. Full info HERE

THE LEDE COMPANY/LA: Full-service strategy, communications and social impact consulting firm, specializing in corporate, entertainment and nonprofit sectors. We are looking for a Talent Assistant to a Talent Publicist in Los Angeles. We are seeking enthusiastic candidates who can work in a fast-paced environment, are driven & have strong communication and writing skills. Full info HERE

BAHAKEL COMMUNICATIONS/CHARLOTTE NC: Develop and oversee the production of a daily or weekly national political show that covers the most important political news and events of the day. Develop and execute strategies to increase the show’s audience and engagement. At least 5 years of experience as an executive producer for a political show or similar program. Full info HERE

Oversee all editorial and entertainment content, news production and presentation. Responsible for day-to-day operations of the show: producing, writing, and guiding creative. Develop content for the News @ TEN, plan, assign and create production schedules. 7 years of experience as executive producer or show producer. Network experience preferred. Full info HERE


Guide and mentor a team of producers and program managers across development of a major AAA game title from early development to launch and beyond.
Sr. Director, Production (Unannounced Project)
Bellevue, WA

Work closely with the VFX Lead and Art Director(s) to build high-quality visual fx and
aid in driving the vision through look-dev and rapid iteration through prototypes.
Principal VFX Artist (Unannounced Project)
Bellevue, WA

Perform handy person duties including but not limited to installation of whiteboards & corkboards, hanging pictures, removal & installation of keyboard trays, and minor furniture rearrangement & repair.
Senior Facility Services Technician
San Jose, CA

Conduct safety discussions before work starts and post necessary notices in accordance with State and CAL-OSHA regulations.
Glendale, CA

Responsible for providing exceptional client service, leading a project team, and providing management of project budget, schedule, and quality.
Project Manager
Oklahoma City, OK

Be sole point of contact for establishing business relationships with third party and cloud hosting providers, customer support, quality assurance, NOC and localization.
Head of Game Operations
Turtle Rock
Orange County, CA

Champion content and feature development by working with Leads and the rest of the Production team on maintaining a clear project schedule and tracking team capacity.
Leads Producer
Turtle Rock
Orange County, CA

Focus on scaling real-time interactive experiences to tens of thousands of players in the same fully-simulated environment.
Research Manager
San Mateo, CA

Serve as an expert in strategic talent programs, continuing to identify ways to optimize employee performance, enhance employee engagement, and align talent initiatives with business priorities.
Senior Talent Management Partner
Redmond, WA

Establish and maintain ongoing business relationships with key stakeholders at external publishers and developers in the games industry.
Sr. Manager, Partner Management (AAA Partners)
Redmond, WA

Work with and lead a Multiplayer Engineering team to craft development of innovative Multiplayer content systems & experiences.
Lead Gameplay Engineer
Playa Vista, CA

Implement, debug and optimize major features and content in C/C++ and other languages in the context of a large cross platform codebase.
Senior Gameplay Engineer
Playa Vista, CA

Develop innovative, complex, and visually stunning visual effects and work closely with our designer, animators, and programmers to implement effects.
Senior Real-Time FX Artist
Hi-Rez Studios
Alpharetta, GA