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08/10/23: This weekend’s Evo fighting game tournament showed just how strong the esports audience still is


Medias First Morning Read
Thursday August 10, 2023

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

This weekend’s Evo fighting game tournament showed just how strong the esports audience still is despite ongoing concerns in the industry about the business of competitive gaming.

As viewership and attendance of live events continues to increase, there’s little doubt that the audience for esports and gaming is both growing and more engaged than ever. The problem brands, marketers, and endemic organizations have run into stems more from the underlying business built around this audience, which fails to capitalize on a large-scale fan base.

There are many reasons that capturing core gamers, those in Gen Z in particular, remains a challenge. Monetizing demographics that are native to free digital entertainment, building brand awareness in a hyper-competitive industry, and retaining an audience that is fickle at best? It’s a tough task, even when you don’t consider the flood of venture capital funding that propped up shaky business foundations for years and artificially inflated budgets and industry outlooks.

The moral of the story is, this “esports winter” isn’t cooling consumers’ desires to engage with their favorite games and competitions. Short-term decision-making without a look at the long-term outlook could fix your books for now but leave you out in the cold in the years to come.

Want to learn more about how to make it through the market dip and come out with a better business? Join us at the Esports & Gaming Business Summit from Oct. 22-24 in Las Vegas. Register HERE before ticket prices go up at the end of August.


Looking to get involved in this year’s Tempest Esports & Gaming awards? We’re looking for professionals in the esports and gaming industry to join our judge’s panel. Email Carley Ashley by August 9th with a short blurb on why you would be a great judge. Know a company that deserves to be recognized? Submit your entry by visiting our website.


The Counter-Strike esports landscape is set to change dramatically following a swath of shifts to the competitive scene announced by CS developer Valve late last week. “The ecosystem has become gradually less open,” Valve said of its rationale, “with access to the highest levels of competition increasingly gated by business relationships.” Some of the changes, set to be enacted in 2025, include tournament organizers no longer being able to have unique business relationships or conflicts of interest with participating teams; invitations to tournaments only being afforded by Valve’s Counter-Strike team ranking system or open qualifiers; and public disclosure of all event prize pools and the criteria by which prize pools were determined.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will launch Nov. 10, Activision announced Monday via a short teaser trailer on social platforms. The next installment of the storied first-person shooter franchise will reportedly carry over cosmetic items from Modern Warfare II, the most recent release in the series, and is being developed by Sledgehammer Games, a longtime Activision partner for CoD releases.

G2 Esports took down ENCE to take home the IEM Cologne title Sunday and $400,000 of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament’s $1 million prize pool. G2 also earned an automatic spot in IEM Katowice, one of the largest tournaments in the ecosystem. G2 won the 2023 edition of that event and will look to be back-to-back champions in Katowice when it comes back around in 2024.

Hometown squad Spacestation Gaming took the title at the Halo Championship Series Salt Lake City event this weekend, with the host squad taking down Sentinels to bring home an HCS tournament title ahead of the HCS Fort Worth Major from Sept. 1-3 in Fort Worth, Texas. FaZe Clan, OpTic Gaming, Quadrant and Native Gaming finished out the top six teams in Salt Lake City and automatically qualified for the Major. Spacestation snagged $45,000 of the event’s $125,000 prize pool with the sweep of Sentinels in the final.


Team Liquid is riding into the VALORANT Champions 2023 in style with the release of a new music video, “Turn the Tide,” as its anthem for the grand finale of international VALORANT Champions Tour competition for the year. The song features 2WEI and Edda Hayes, who produced Warriors for the League of Legends World Championship in 2020, and Kataem, who has collabed with the artists previously and produced hits such as Ready for War and The Lost Crown, a titular song for the Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown video game.

Riot Games is partnering with streetwear company No Future Brand as it looks to further engage with the Brazilian esports community. The collaboration, which targets VALORANT fans in a country that is particularly passionate about first-person shooter competitive titles, will bring together the No Future Brand style with VALORANT Champions 2023 callouts on a limited-time t-shirt. Riot said in a statement that this collaboration is part of a company initiative to engage with individual esports communities across multiple countries and recognize fandom ahead of VALORANT Champions.

FACEIT announced the addition of PUBG Mobile as a title on the esports competition platform in conjunction with PUBG publisher Tencent. PUBG Mobile tournaments on FACEIT, an ESL FACEIT Group product, will begin in August with the PUBG Mobile Challenger Cup. Along with smaller-scale daily events, FACEIT will also support the Challenger Cup competition in the Europe/Middle East/Africa region, with competition continuing through mid-September.

Razer has launched an international initiative with AD Gaming, an Abu Dhabi organization invested in developing the United Arab Emirates’ esports footprint. Razer will assist AD Gaming in building a gaming hub on its campus known as Gaming Zone, which will be outfitted with Razer products. Razer will also provide discounts for AD Gaming affiliated businesses.

2023 Esports & Gaming Business Summit

New speakers are IN!
Take a look at the new names that will take the stage at the Esports & Gaming Business Summit on October 22-24:
Rema Vasan, TikTok
Chad De Luca, Twitch
Paul Mascali, PepsiCo
Sound like the kind of executives you’d like to share the room with and hear more from?



Esports organization Sentinels is spending nearly $700,000 on player and staff salaries and merchandise and is moving forward with crowdfunding initiatives through StartEngine, a startup equity platform, as a solution. StartEngine is designed to allow fans and other public stakeholders to literally carve out a stake in their favorite team. Sentinels has raised around $74,000 so far, with a minimum investment of just under $300 for interested investors. Nearly 50 people have invested, according to StartEngine, and the company is valued at $30.09 million as the raise gets underway – but if Sentinels manages to raise the minimum amount of equity through crowdfunding, it can still only operate for 2-3 months without additional support.

Team Liquid’s VALORANT squad announced more than an anthem this week: Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen has signed a three-year extension with the VCT Europe/Middle East/Africa region team. Jamppi, 22, has been a key piece of Liquid’s success as it continues to push for VCT Champions contention. The Finland native has been with the org since February 2021.

FaZe Clan has granted DJ and music producer Kaysan a minority stake in the Atlanta FaZe, the organization’s Call of Duty League team, the parties announced. Kaysan, who also creates content for FaZe on YouTube and other platforms, will aim to leverage his minority position and “expand the Call of Duty scene” through working alongside Atlanta. Kaysan is the first individual owner of the Atlanta FaZe, whose ownership includes the parent organization and VC fund Atlanta Esports Ventures.

Astralis shareholders agreed to delist the company from public markets following an Extraordinary General Meeting on Tuesday. The Danish esports organization will exit the NASDAQ First North Growth Market Denmark following approval of an application to delist that will move forward following this vote. “The company will issue a company announcement when the application has been submitted,” it said in a statement.


Larian Studios role-playing game Baldur’s Gate 3 hit more than 700,000 concurrent players on Steam following its release, signaling that the mainstream-ization of Dungeons & Dragons style titles is here to stay. From the big screen success of Honor Among Thieves to BG3 becoming the most-played game on Valve’s PC gaming platform other than Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, fans are once again proving the cross-sections of geek culture are a sweet spot for reaching both core and casual audiences. The success of BG3, other entertainment crossovers like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and more will be a hot topic at EBS, and keep in mind that Best Esports and Gaming Crossover is a category for this year’s Tempest Awards too. Get your entries in HERE.

Final Fantasy XVI did not hit sales goals, publisher Square Enix said in its Q1 earnings report, though the company’s net sales improved by 14% year-over-year. FFXVI sold 3 million units as of June 28, and the title spurred Square Enix’s $204 million in sales on “HD Games,” a console designation. That was a 142% YoY increase; however, profit for the organization dipped 66% YoY to $44.3 million in Q1 2023. While mobile (-18% YoY) and MMO (-22% YoY) sales decreased, the bulk of the profit sink was attributed to costs, likely those of development of FFXVI and other titles.

Twitch has further solidified its stance on gambling on its platform, with a ban on sponsorships involving gambling and promotion of betting in content streamed on Twitch. The change to Twitch’s community guidelines will still allow content covering things such as fantasy sports, sports betting and poker, but things such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s robust skins gambling ecosystem and the companies that support it will not be allowed to be advertised on Twitch as sponsors or be promoted in Twitch content.

Google has opened opportunities for Latin American game developers to participate in its Indie Games Fund, with $150-200,000 available for game devs in the region to support upcoming releases. Applying studios must have already launched a game, and Google is accepting submissions through Sept. 1 with a maximum allocation of $2 million, or 10-13 studios supported by the program.

2023 Tempest Esports & Gaming Awards

We know you’ll LOVE this
Entries for the Tempest Esports & Gaming Awards are still open…but for less than a week! The annual awards ceremony brings together the top companies, brands, teams, leagues, executives and players under the spotlight. Want to see your favorites up there? Put them in the running for an award, but act fast – entries close Wednesday, August 16!


Who did the USA lose to in the Women’s World Cup, marking the earliest the U.S. has ever been eliminated from the event? (Email [email protected] with your answer, and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
Highly anticipated role-playing game Baldur’s Gate 3 officially releases today. How long has the game been in “Early Access” before its launch? Answer: Three years. Kudos: Tom Moore | Kalt Productions, Los Angeles; David Westberg | SAG•AFTRA Federal Credit Union, Burbank, California

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