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11/02/23: Worlds enters knockout stage; Bungie lays off 8% of staff; Xbox names new president

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday November 2, 2023
Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports and Gaming brief.
PC and console gaming revenues have hit $95.2 billion for 2023, according to the latest report from game analytics and insights firm Newzoo. Additionally, all but one of the 20 most-played games in terms of monthly active users for the year came out prior to 2023, with Hogwarts Legacy coming in at No. 15 from January to May 2023. Fortnite remains at the top of the list in MAU across both 2022 and early 2023, according to Newzoo, and the report provided some important insights into the gaming audience as well.

Gen Z boasted a 10% increase year-over-year in self-identifying game enthusiast, Newzoo reported, with 85% of that cohort playing and 72% viewing video game entertainment in the past 12 months. Millennials generally align with in terms of folks who identify as gamers (82%) and players (80%), but there’s a massive falloff in millennials who regularly watch gaming content at just 57% of the group.

This discrepancy shows a noteworthy shift in entertainment consumption preferences from generation to generation and a key opportunity for marketers and brands. Gen Z, more so than any demographic before it, takes an always-on approach to pursuing its passions, be it through social media, streaming, actual play or real-life experiences. Monetizing that willingness to engage with content beyond one screen will be key to disrupting current economic challenges in the gaming and esports industries.


The League of Legends World Championship knockout stage began today with North America’s NRG facing off against China’s Weibo Gaming in the quarterfinals of one of the biggest esports events in the world. Other than NRG, the field is entirely South Korean or Chinese squads, with Bilibili Gaming, Gen.G Esports, JD Gaming, KT Rolster, LNG Esports and T1 making up the rest of the knockout bracket. The quarterfinal matches will run through Nov. 5, with the semis taking place Nov. 11-12 and the finals on Nov. 19.

Dota 2’s The International has seen a minor dip in viewership compared to past years, according to streaming analytics platform Esports Charts. As of Wednesday, the event has peaked at around 1.44 million viewers so far and an average of 541,240 viewers across almost 122 hours of airtime. The grand final showdown between Dota powerhouses Gaimin Gladiators and Team Spirit topped the viewership charts for TI, with GG earning the most-ever peak viewers it’s had as an organization and Team Spirit coming away with the win and just more than $1.4 million of the event’s $3.1 million prize pool.

Bungie has laid off 8% of its workforce, or around 100 employees, according to a report from Bloomberg. The studio formerly behind the Halo franchise and currently working on marquee first-person shooter title Destiny 2 faced cuts alongside several other Sony PlayStation-owned developers, though Bungie had control over who was let go. Among those that were cut are some of the most influential names at Bungie; the organization missed revenue targets by around 45% for the year behind a dip in Destiny play, according to Bloomberg, and the studio will delay its The Final Shape expansion for Destiny 2 (now scheduled for June 2024) and its next major title, Marathon, to 2025.


Gen.G has partnered with a collegiate gaming award program,The Scholars, in a further effort for the South Korean organization to support competitive play at higher education institutions. The Scholars is an offshoot of The Esports Awards, with Gen.G also presenting the Global Impact of The Year Award honor during The Scholars ceremony. Gen.G, which earned a Tempest Award in October behind its partnership with the University of Kentucky, sees this partnership as another way to embed itself in supporting the collegiate space. “We see a lot of overlap between Gen.G’s educational mission and The Scholars Awards,” Gen.G CEO Arnold Hur said in a statement. “Gen.G has long demonstrated our commitment to education and collegiate initiatives.”

Fall Guys and Final Fantasy XIV have launched an in-game collaboration that will see themes from each game overlap. The partnership, while unexpected, will add a Fall Guys-style battle royale activity to Final Fantasy XIV and a FFXIV-themed battle pass in Fall Guys. The collaboration launched Oct. 31 and will run through Dec. 31.

Game publishing organization Midwest Games has secured $3.1 million in funding and named esports and gaming luminary Erin Ashley Simon as a co-owner, the company announced Oct. 30. A flurry of Wisconsin-based organizations led the round, including the Green Bay Packers, Brightstar Wisconsin, Tundra Angels and Ashley Simon herself. “I am thrilled to be part of Midwest Games, a company that shares my passion for creating opportunities and revenue streams in the gaming industry that never existed before,” Ashley Simon said in a statement. As a woman of color, I believe in opening up spaces and creating access for all. Midwest Games is providing access to talent that has long been overlooked, and I look forward to taking down those barriers together.”

Q3 2023 Live Streaming Viewership Hits A Plateau

Our latest quarterly report offers a detailed outlook into the past and current state of the live video game streaming market, and its relevance to the popularity of streaming platforms, game publisher IP, popular media, and creators.
– Live-streaming viewership has begun to stabilize, only down 4% from Q3 2022 to 7.6 billion hours watched. This is almost equal to Q3 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and still 90% greater than the same time in 2019.
– Creator-driven events continue to post extraordinary numbers; ibai’s third edition of La Velada del Año generated 34.1M hours watched (almost 5x the first edition in 2021), and Squeezie’s Formula 4 creator event helped put him on the top creators list by average viewers for the quarter.
– New Q3 role-playing game releases, Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield, have generated close to 50M hours watched each in their first month on the market. These performances put them in the top 5 launches of the year.

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Esports organization Sentinels has secured $3.4 million in investment to keep the brand afloat after a failed (but innovative) crowdfunding effort. The Sentinels ownership group injected capital at the tail end of that crowdfunding initiative, which wraps up at the end of the week. Sentinels CEO Rob Moore said the organization has received $150,000 through the fan-focused funding approach and that they expect the pool of funds, along with a reduction in burn rate, will help Sentinels better leverage the investment.

UK organization Guild Esports has brought in a $1.2 million subscription agreement with $600K guaranteed, Guild announced, behind an undisclosed investor. The funds will go toward increasing Guild’s presence in the Middle East and North Africa regions, which are an emerging market in gaming.

Cloud9 has entered StarCraft II esports by signing South Korean player StarCraft veteran Koh “GuMiho” Byung-jae, the North American organization announced Tuesday. While the StarCraft scene is much smaller compared to its heyday as the biggest esport in the world decades ago, the move is indicative of Cloud9’s ongoing push to cement itself as a global organization with footprints internationally across multiple competitive titles.


Sarah Bond is the new president of Xbox, Microsoft announced, following a stint as corporate vice president at the gaming organization. Bond will oversee the entire Xbox platform, while former Xbox Game Studios lead Matt Booty has also been promoted to a more overarching president of game content and studios role.

Former Riot Games Executive Producer and Design Director Greg Street is launching a new studio to develop a massive multiplayer online role-playing game. Street was previously working on Riot’s development of an MMORPG but moved on from the company in early 2023. “I have a new studio stacked with industry veterans, and we are about to announce, in an unconventional way, both it AND our new MMORPG,” Street said on X (formerly Twitter). “Because we want to be an unconventional studio.”


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How much money did Microsoft wind up spending to acquire Activision-Blizzard? Answer: $68.7 billion. Kudos: Tom Moore | Kalt Productions, Los Angeles; David Westberg | SAG•AFTRA Federal Credit Union, Burbank, California

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