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10/26/23: GameSquare buys FaZe; EBS takeaways; Microsoft’s cloud gaming boom

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday October 26, 2023
Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports and Gaming brief.

The Esports & Gaming Business Summit brought together hundreds of industry stakeholders this week for dozens of panels, hours of networking, and a refreshing reset on conversations about how to reach Gen Z, build new revenue opportunities, and authentically connect with brands.

Programming from Sunday to Tuesday at MGM Grand in Las Vegas featured major game publishers like Capcom, Bandai Namco and Ubisoft as well as marquee marketers for Twitch, State Farm, TikTok, Populous, Old Spice and more. Some primary takeaways from the conference:

– With an industry-wide reset underway, right-sized activations and added value beyond a logo slap are the primary considerations for marketers. Make sure to adjust expectations, open up bandwidth for bigger ideas and be prepared to prove value through hard statistics beyond reach and impressions.
– Brands still see as much value in the esports and gaming spaces as they did before. The difficulty is that too often, non-endemic businesses look at these industries as the first to go when marketing dollars get tight. Educating leaders and, again, proving the impact of your company on theirs will help keep relationships going.
– The games and competitive audience is ever-growing, and many of them find extra value through friendships, community-building and generally engaging with game products. However, they’re distrustful of brands that come into the space to capitalize on them rather than bring them something new, interactive and truly worth their attention. For non-endemics looking to enter the space, that means thinking hard about the objectives, strategies and tactics you employ; a logo slap is likely to do more harm than good.

Learn more about what went down at EBS below as well as some of the notable winners from Monday’s Tempest Awards, which honored the best of the best in the industry.


Sim racing is providing unprecedented accessibility to real-life racing opportunities, Racing Prodigy CEO David Cook and former GT Academy winner Nick McMillen said during a panel Sunday on one of the most unique ways the real world and gaming are intersecting. Cook’s Prodigy Racing League will hope to take the efforts of some of racing’s biggest names, like McClaren, Michelin and more by democratizing racing competition, which traditionally costs tens of thousands of dollars a year for even the youngest aspiring F1 pros. PRL competitors will have a chance to compete IRL in the Prodigy Week racing academy at Atlanta Motorsports Park and, hopefully, cement a place as an F1 racer moving forward. McMillen, who did just that through GT Academy, said the gap between virtual and in-car racers isn’t as large as many would expect and that, given the chance, many of the top sim stars would show out on the actual tracks.

Qualcomm and ESL FACEIT Group continue to see massive promise in mobile competition, the Snapdragon Pro Series Powered by Samsung Galaxy partners said during EBS on Monday. Mobile’s accessibility has made it the preferred way to play around the world, and open competition, untethered live events, and the league’s partnerships with publishers including Activision-Blizzard and Moonton have Qualcomm manager of product for gaming and esports Matthew Grossman and EFG senior vice president of game ecosystems Kevin Rosenblatt bullish on mobile’s potential. Several of the top esports titles in watch hours, Rosenblatt noted, are mobile games, and Grossman affirmed that Qualcomm continues to see the value of the league’s growth amid an otherwise difficult time for competitive gaming.

Chinese and South Korean squads are crushing League of Legends World Championship competition to no one’s surprise as the main event rolls on in Seoul. South Korea’s Gen.G and China’s Weibo Gaming are 3-0 so far, and all but two of the six squads at 2-1 in the Swiss stage are from those two countries. North America’s NRG Esports and Europe/Middle East/Africa squad G2 Esports are the two rosters with the distinction of breaking up the pack.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder has proven the traditional 2D Nintendo platformer still has the magic thanks to its co-op capabilities, refreshing mechanics and fluid gameplay. The title, which released Oct. 20, has captivated fans and reviewers alike with Universal Acclaim scores on Metacritic. Of course, being able to turn your character into an elephant in the game doesn’t hurt.


In this week’s REV/XP Presents, Senior Vice President Chris Mann is joined by Alex Gonzalez, the Head of Luminosity Gaming. Luminosity is one of the premier global esports teams, featuring competitors across titles such as Apex Legends, Smash Bros, Brawl Stars, Halo, Call of Duty, Rocket League and more. Learn more about the team at


Traditional sports might be the next big frontier for content creators,gaming personality Nick “NICKMERCS” Kolcheff said during his fireside chat at EBS. Gaming and esports fans, who are used to microtransactions in-game and paying for streaming subscriptions, are also likely to bring their affinity for a creator to live events, such as NICKMERCS’ MFAM Gauntlet x UFC 2 earlier this year. NICKMERCS also leveraged the week in Vegas and his appearance at TwitchCon to announce a $10 million non-exclusive deal with streaming platform Kick, making him the latest big name to shift from exclusively working with the Amazon product to the latest hot commodity in content creation.

Cat food business Temptations is blazing a new trail and connecting to a young, engaged audience thanks to its bold decision to embrace gaming content as a pet brand. In Tuesday’s brand camp session, Temptations spoke to its partnership with Misfits Gaming and how it creatively approached an activation that, without a strong strategy, could have seemed like a shoehorned sponsorship for both parties. The cat food supplier’s tactics could set an example for other non-endemic brands that might feel like reaching the game audience is a square-peg, round-hole proposition.

Don’t we all want a round of applause every time our brand pops onscreen?Capcom’s 360 approach to its partnership with Chipotle led to just that for the restaurant chain, which alongside Capcom built a Street Fighter VI sponsorship that encompassed its competitive program, in-game cosmetics, additional work with companies like Twitch and more. The result: A campaign that earned cheers when Chipotle made onscreen appearances during Evo, the largest fighting game tournament in the world. Not bad, huh?

A live action series for game franchise Fallout is scheduled to release in April 2024, Amazon Prime Video announced, marking the latest in a slew of game-to-TV adaptations in recent years. Similar to the The Last of Us series, the Fallout show reportedly resulted from deep collaboration between developer Bethesda and its showrunners to authentically bring the game to life onscreen. The popular post-apocalyptic IP is slated to come to the big(ger) screens on April 12.


Fortnite on top: Analyzing Unique Channel Growth on Live Streaming PlatformsIt is hard to deny that Fortnite has been, ever since the release of the game, one of the pillars of the live streaming industry, especially on YouTube where millions of gameplays have been recorded. Up to this day, Fortnite is still one of the top games played in primary live streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube Live. We know for sure since the past 2 quarters of 2023, Fortnite has been the game with the highest number of unique channels, growing 14.17% from 1.6M to 1.8M.

Fortnite caught our attention because, in the past 30 days, it emerged as the undisputed leader when it comes to unique channels on live streaming platforms. It stands at an impressive 4.9% higher than the game in second place Just Chatting category. This distinction is significant as it indicates the diversity and reach of content creators choosing Fortnite as their streaming focus.


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Which gaming genre sees the highest amount of time spent by players?This chart highlights the percentage of players who invest a substantial seven hours or more per week on PC or console gaming, sorted by the gaming genres they play. MOBA gamers lead the pack, with 61% play for seven or more hours in an average week, followed by Battle Royale gamers at 54%. Gamers who play Massively Multiplayer/RPGs, Horror, and Indie games also log high game time, with over 50% of these players spending at least seven hours playing. By comparison, only two-fifths of racing (40%) and sports (39%) gamers play for that duration in an average week.


Grassroots events are one of the most authentic homes for players and teams and are an untapped resource for sponsors and partners, speakers at this week’s conference said. As franchised leagues such as the Overwatch League fall out of favor, teams are increasingly flocking to titles with open or semi-open formats. One example: Luminosity Gaming, an international esports organization that won its first-ever world championship through Pokémon UNITE and is a contender for the Call of Duty: Mobile World Championship after picking up on mobile gaming. The fighting game community and others that have remained right-sized leading into the “esports winter” are also still primed for investment.

Esports organization Gen.G won Team of the Year and Collegiate Program of the Year at Monday’s Tempest Awards behind its Mobil 1 Racing Rocket League squad and its University of Kentucky Campus Takeover conference. The company leaned on its differentiators to stand out, with its Mobil 1 partnership as the driver of two teams (Gen.G Mobil 1 Racing and Gen.G Mobil 1 Racing Black) as well as an ongoing commitment to supporting innovative collegiate gaming programming and career opportunities at Kentucky.

Counter-Strike star Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken is joining Team Liquid,according to a report from The decision’s timing is surprising given Twistzz, formerly a member of FaZe Clan, recently won the first major Counter-Strike 2 tournament with an IEM Sydney championship alongside FaZe. The move will reunite Twistzz with a former org where he found success over multiple years of play.

Speaking of FaZe, things might get complicated for the squad across multiple esports following GameSquare’s acquisition of the gaming lifestyle organization. GameSquare’s current esports program, Complexity Gaming, overlaps with FaZe in several titles, and most leagues have rules that prohibit companies from fielding multiple teams in one league. The addition of FaZe also introduces noteworthy roster price tags for an organization for which esports isn’t a primary business, meaning it’s likely there could be some tough choices to come for the org’s new parent company.


Microsoft reported $56.6 billion in Q1 revenue behind 13% growth of Xbox content and services revenue, the company announced. Despite a 7% dip in hardware sales, a surge in Game Pass subscriptions and marquee title Starfield’s release propelled the company to 13% year-over-year growth in Q1 revenues. Microsoft expects the trend to continue as it rolls out a suite of Activision-Blizzard titles on Game Pass next year.

In case you missed it above, GameSquare has acquired FaZe Holdings in an all-stock deal. The price tag, given FaZe’s free fall in the public market since August, was approximately $17 million for GameSquare, which will hope to turn the beleaguered gaming and content company around and adjust its bloated budget. Faze went from ambitiously proclaiming itself the first esports and gaming lifestyle brand with a $1 billion valuation to selling for around $0.20 on the Nasdaq as of this month as the market soured on gaming investment and was clued in to FaZe’s balance sheet.

Only around 2.2 million of Netflix’s nearly 250 million subscribers play games daily using the streaming platform, according to research by Apptopia reported by CNBC. Apptopia also reports an estimated 70.5 million downloads of the 77 game titles available on Netflix. Though the percentages look stark, co-CEO Greg Peters said the “this trajectory is not dissimilar from what we’ve seen before” and that Netflix expects gaming to be a “long-term center value of entertainment” for it during an earnings call, according to CNBC.

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