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11/16/23: Pokimane launches snack line; Amazon Games makes cuts; new GTA announced

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday November 16, 2023
Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports and Gaming brief.
A PC Gamer gaffe reminded the games industry just how much work we have left to do in order to make sure we’re properly recognizing the contributions of women and underrepresented persons in games. To celebrate PC Gamer’s 30-year anniversary, the publication revealed its list of the most influential people in producing the magazine in the past three decades – a list that featured no women.

Here’s what probably happened, from someone who’s been in newsrooms crafting these kinds of projects before: A staff full of predominantly men put their heads together to discuss the most important decision-makers in the games industry. They made their list, unconsciously leaving out people that deserved a spot but are so often left out of the limelight in this industry. And no one in the room, because the room was so lacking in underrepresented people (if not entirely devoid of them) was able to advocate for or identify the problem that PC Gamer’s audience immediately noticed and correctly panned.

We all need to do better. We need to not just be intentional about our recognition of the contributions of all types of people to this industry but also be intentional about putting others in the room that don’t look like us, that don’t share our points of view, skin color, gender identity and all the other traits the people who match the status quo are often too uncomfortable to talk about. Because if we don’t open seats at the table, things like this happen – and unfortunately, this is just one small example in an industry that gives even less back to its underrepresented stakeholders and advocates than most other sectors.


T1 and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok are one series away from making more League of Legends history at the League of Legends World Championship in South Korea. Faker, recognized as the greatest League player of all time, led his T1 squad to a stunning 3-1 win over tournament favorite JD Gaming and will now face Chinese squad Weibo Gaming in the final at Gocheok Sky Dome on Sunday. Faker and T1 will go for an unprecedented fourth Worlds title with a hometown crowd behind them, while Weibo Gaming will attempt to complete a miracle run that began with multiple upsets in their regional league just to make this year’s main event.

Developer Rockstar Games is finally releasing the next edition of the Grand Theft Auto series, with a trailer for the long-awaited Grand Theft Auto 6 releasing in early December. Rockstar president Sam Houser confirmed the news on X (formerly known as Twitter) last week, though the studio hasn’t outwardly committed to that title yet. Grand Theft Auto V came out more than a decade ago and is still going strong thanks to online play; the game has sold 190 million units, according to a November 2023 version of publisher Take-Two Interactive’s investor deck.

A Counter-Strike 2 Major tournament is coming to Shanghai thanks to organizer Perfect World, the esports event operator announced. The event will be the second Counter-Strike competition hosted in China, with venues and dates for the 2024 event yet to be announced. It will also be the first Major, or Valve-backed international competition, to take place in Asia.

Scholastic esports tournament organizer PlayVS has made its events fee-free for North American competitors, CEO Jon Chapman told The Esports Advocate. The move runs counter to the troubled past PlayVS is known for; the organization previously had a reputation for scooping up game licenses for scholastic competition, then charging schools at all levels to participate. PlayVS will instead shift to relying on partnerships and sponsorships to fund its operations.

If you missed this year’s EBS, have no fear; we have a taste of the three-day conference for you below. From Oct. 22-24, hundreds of the industry’s biggest names gathered in Las Vegas for the conference, which featured around 100 speakers addressing industry trends, insights and the path forward for esports and gaming.

Check out some of the highlights below.


Twitch streamer Imane “Pokimane” Anys is launching a snack food line, the popular content creator announced. Pokimane, alongside former Kellogg executive Darcey Macken, revealed Myna Snacks on Monday, a healthy snacking option inspired by Pokimane’s dissatisfaction with the types of quick-and-easy food available to her during the gaming and content sessions that are the hallmark of her brand. Myna’s first product, known as Midnight Mini Cookies, are available online at four packages for $28.

Gaming lifestyle festival DreamHack is giving back to host city Atlanta later this year through a partnership with Toys for Tots during DreamHack Atlanta from Dec. 15-17 at the Georgia World Congress Center. The initiative brings back DreamHack’s Dream BIG charity program, which was introduced at DreamHack San Diego earlier this year. Along with a Toys for Tots drive, the festival is donating $530,000 worth of tickets to students at Title 1 schools in Atlanta.

Rainbow Six Siege publisher Ubisoft is partnering with stream analytics firm Esports Charts to help the developer build additional insight into its esports audience. The move will equip Ubisoft with the full suite of Esports Charts data, including demographics of its audience, their viewership habits, comparisons to competitors and potential next steps for enhancing the Rainbow Six production experience and overall audience size.

XSET has partnered with RoboSquad Revolution to bring in-game items featuring the gaming lifestyle organization into the video game platform. RoboSquad Revolution, an arena-based shooter and free-to-play game available in Early Access on Steam, will work XSET gear into the title, with influencer partnerships, sponsored tournaments and more planned following RoboSquad Revolution’s official launch.

OTK’s Mak’Gora Creator Event Boosts World of Warcraft’s Viewership By 50%

The World of Warcraft (WoW) community experienced a unique thrill in October, thanks to a collaborative effort by OTK Network and Starforge Systems. They hosted an extraordinary event on a WoW Classic hardcore server called The OTK/Starforge Hardcore Mak’gora.

The event helped boost World of Warcraft to the 7th most-watched game in streaming last week, and boosted its weekly viewership over 50% from the prior week. The game generated almost 13M hours watched, with a quarter of that coming from the Mak’gora event.

This event underscores a critical aspect of MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) like World of Warcraft; they are a niche market, yet they hold immense potential for successful campaigns. The hardcore Mak’Gora event tapped into the community’s passion, delivering an experience that was both authentic to the game and thrilling for the players and viewers alike.

Read more at Stream Hatchet’s blog.

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The Sports Media Awards recognizes and celebrates the industry, across production, marketing, technology and talent. Next year’s event launches this month – take a look at last year’s winners for an idea of what it means to win.


Gamers Prefer Search Engines, US Adults Flock to Retailer Sites for Holiday Finds

Nearly half of gamers (50%) turn to search engines when looking for products to buy during the holiday season, while 43% of all US adults opt for retailer websites/apps. Family, friends, and colleagues influence 43% of gamers and 38% of adults in their product decisions. Online reviews hold sway over 36% of gamers and 29% of adults. The data reveals distinct patterns in how gamers and US adults navigate their holiday shopping, showcasing the pivotal role of digital platforms and personal connections in their purchase decisions.


A Turkish VALORANT pro who died in earthquakes in the country earlier this year has been memorialized in-gameby developer Riot Games. Gizem “Luie” Harmankaya, a VALORANT Game Changers player died in February 2023 amid the disaster that affected parts of Turkey and Syria. Riot produced an in-game player card to honor the player, according to information from a data miner who discovered assets that will soon be available in-game.

The Houston Outlaws, a former Overwatch League team, are facing fan backlash following the organization’s decision to scrap its Overwatch program entirely and turn the Outlaws into a content creation-focused organization. The Outlaws, who cut the Houston moniker alongside the decision, signed three streamers, none of whom regularly stream Overwatch. The organization has since made multiple statements on social media acknowledging fans’ concerns but has yet to sign any Overwatch creators to its relatively unknown cohort of streamers.

Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona is expected to enter VALORANT esports as part of its new Barca Games program, according to multiple VALORANT insiders. FC Barcelona would have to enter the ecosystem via the Spanish VALORANT Challengers circuit, but from there could qualify to the Tier 1 VALORANT Champions Tour via the regional Ascension tournament.

JD Gaming coach Yoon “Homme” Sung-young has resigned and will take a temporary break from coaching following the team’s 3-1 loss to T1 in the League of Legends World Championship. The decision was another stunner at the end of JDG’s attempt to be the first team to complete The Golden Road: an accolade that includes winning both domestic splits, the international Mid-Season Invitational tournament and Worlds in the same year. “I should have done better today,” Homme said on social media platform Weibo following the loss. “I did poorly, so we lost the series.”


Enthusiast Gaming reported a net loss of $43.1 million in Q3 2023, with a cash balance of just above $2 million remaining for the Canadian gaming and esports entertainment company. Enthusiast, which operates esports organization Luminosity Gaming, noted its continued success as the No. 1 gaming brand in terms of unique traffic according to Comscore. However, the views and programmatic revenue that come from them aren’t making magic happen on the balance sheets, with expenses rising year-over-year for the company alongside a 10% revenue dip compared to Q3 2022. Previously, Enthusiast had announced a voluntary delisting from the Nasdaq public stock exchange, though it is still traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Amazon has cut around 180 employees from its Amazon Games division, according to Aftermath. The layoffs affected Amazon’s Twitch channel, known as the Crown Channel, and the company’s Game Growth team. “We’ve listened to our customers and we know delivering free games every month is what they want most, so we are refining our Prime benefit to increase our focus there,” Christoph Hartmann, the VP of Amazon Games, said in an internal email obtained by Aftermath. “With these changes in our business approach come changes to our resourcing.”

Developer crunch is rearing its head again following a report from Bloomberg detailing issues during the development of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III. The title, which was initially planned as an expansion of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, turned into another mainline title instead on an extremely truncated timeline, according to Bloomberg, though representatives from publisher Activision and developer Sledgehammer Games have denied that claim. Modern Warfare III has been near-universally criticized post-launch, particularly for its campaign mode, which takes only three to four hours to complete.

Gaming publication Uppercut is scaling back its operations due to underfunding and understaffing, editor-in-chief Ty Galiz-Rowe announced. Uppercut, one of the premier publications focused on indie titles and cultural issues in gaming, will not be accepting pitches moving forward. “Thank you to everyone who supported me/us over the years. It has meant a ton to us and helped us to make at least a small impact during our time in operation,” Galiz-Rowe said on X. “Please support the small sites that are still around, like Into the Spine, Start Menu, DEEPHELL, no escape, and try to find others like them.”


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