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12/21/23: PS5 hits 50 million sales; Activision Blizzard CEO departing; mobile esports events shine

Medias First Morning Read

Thursday December 21, 2023

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

To better capture the trends you truly care about, the Cynopsis Esports and Gaming Brief is moving to a monthly cadence, with a focus on covering the stories behind the news and providing actionable intel about the industry, its stakeholders and emerging opportunities.

This new approach will allow us to provide you with the big picture and the most important moments in esports and gaming rather than industry news that doesn’t mean much in isolation.

The monthly edition will hit your inbox on the third Thursday of each month, and we think it’ll be better than ever with richer reporting, compelling interviews, thoughtful commentary and more. And of course, feel free to share your feedback and what you want to see from the evolution of the Esports and Gaming Brief with us at the email addresses in our trivia section.


Chinese team Wolves took home the Call of Duty: Mobile World Championship to become the mobile title’s second-ever world champion on Sunday during DreamHack Atlanta. Wolves, which finished fourth in 2022, took down India’s GodLike Esports to claim $400,000 of the event’s $1 million prize pool. The tournament was the most-watched Call of Duty: Mobile esports competition of all time, with more than 50,000 peak viewers and almost 535,000 watch hours over the course of the three-day event.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will step down Dec. 29 following the game publisher’s acquisition by Microsoft, according to The Verge. Remaining Activision Blizzard leadership will report to Microsoft game content and studios president Matt Booty, The Verge reports, following Booty’s promotion to that role earlier this year. More change is expected for Activision Blizzard next year as well, with other members of the C-suite for ATVI departing Microsoft in January and March of 2024.

The Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’s M5 World Championship drew more than 5 million peak viewers, according to Esports Charts, making it the biggest MLBB event of all time and the fourth-largest in terms of peak viewership ever. The event ensured mobile gaming will hold three of the top-5 events in peak viewership for the foreseeable future, unless the League of Legends World Championship (at No. 1 and No. 3 on the list) has another massive year; the 2023 edition of Worlds drew 6.4 million peak viewers, nearly 1 million more than the No. 2 event, the 2021 Free Fire World Series.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s final 2023 DLC, The Indigo Disk, received a lukewarm reaction following its Dec. 14 release, with performance issues still affecting Nintendo’s latest mainline Pokemon title. The Indigo Disk, the second in a two-part DLC for Scarlet and Violet, completed the reintroduction of the entirety of the game’s roster for the series, with 1,025 monsters available to catch, battle and trade, but the returns on nostalgia are noticeably decreasing as fans look for more premier experiences. The Pokemon series is at an interesting inflection point, with a massive generation of fans that grew up on the series hoping for improved quality, storytelling, and creativity, while its primary audience and opportunity for growth continues to be children.


The final episode of 2023 features the entire rEv/XP team: Julia, Theo, Ben, Tony and Chris. The team talks best activations, big moments and more to recap 2023. They also share what they are most looking forward to in the gaming biz in 2024.

Happy holidays!!


South Korean esports team Liiv Sandbox has rebranded to FearX following the conclusion of its title sponsorship agreement with KB Kookmin Bank. The new logo features a yellow fox head and the name of FearX’s ownership group, 4By4. The rebrand will have no impact on the suite of teams that FearX fields, including its flagship League of Legends organization.

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is giving New Years celebrations another try alongside Domino’s with a New Years Eve stream event on Dec. 31. The multi-platform content creator will air a live show on Twitch, TikTok and YouTube featuring guest stars, giveaways and party games, he announced, with Ninja’s New Years Eve hoping to make up for the star’s failed attempt to get a New York City crowd to do the flossing dance during a NYE countdown event in 2018.

The Global Esports Federation and International Esports Federation will work together under a new memorandum of understanding signed at the Riyadh 2023 Global Esports Games in Saudi Arabia. The event aligns the IESF, which recently named Saudi Esports Federation president Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud as the IESF president, with another global organization to “combine their expertise and resources across a set of key areas, enhancing cross-federation ties and knowledge exchange while supporting key initiatives alongside various national esports federations,” according to a statement.

Shikenso Analytics continued its run in the esports partnership space by securing an extension with the newly formed GIANTX, a conglomeration of EXCEL Esports and Giants Gaming. Shikenso, a data analytics solution, previously worked with EXCEL under an agreement from 2022 and will support GIANTX as it looks to bring together Giants’ Spanish audience and EXCEL’s longstanding competitive history in Europe.

Cynopsis Sports Media Awards 2024


The annual Sports Media Awards returns for 2024 with new categories. The program recognizes the best across production, marketing and technology in the industry – do you know a game-changing campaign or company contender?

Enter them into the running below!


Gaming accessory ownership among PlayStation and Xbox users

Gaming headsets are the most popular gaming accessory, with nearly two thirds of Xbox Series X players saying they own one (64%), and over a half of PlayStation 5 (55%) and Series S (53%) gamers also say they own one. Gaming chairs are the next most popular accessory, although Series S (29%) owners are markedly less likely to own one compared to PlayStation 5 (38%) and Series X (37%) gamers. On the other hand, Series S owners (24%) are slightly more likely than owners of the other two to have a gaming steering wheel in their household.


Evil Geniuses has sold its BLAST Premier slot to fellow North American organization Cloud9 as EG continues to cut back amid an uncertain future for the club. Evil Geniuses, which also gave up its League of Legends Championship Series spot earlier this year, is shifting its sights away from Counter-Strike as well despite the opportunities presented by this year’s launch of Counter-Strike 2. With an exit from two premier titles, it’s unclear what the future could hold for EG outside of VALORANT, where it still fields a Champions Tour roster.

Apex Legends pro Jacob “HisWattson” McMillin is exiting retirement after announcing he was exiting the scene in July. HisWattson will return to Brazilian esports organization FURIA following a few months as a content creator. HisWattson will hope to lead FURIA back to the pinnacle of the Apex Legends Global Series after FURIA’s runner-up finish in the ALGS in 2022 and a disappointing year for the organization following HisWattson’s early exit in July. “Matured and learned a lot about myself in the past few months and am excited to play again,” the 21-year-old said on X, formerly known as Twitter, when announcing the news.

Now for a bit more on that GIANTX deal: EXCEL Esports and Giants Gaming are merging and bringing together their esports rosters across the League EMEA Championship (EXCEL’s operation) and VALORANT Champions Tour EMEA circuit (Giants). The company will feature two offices, with EXCEL’s former home base in London and Giants’ position in Madrid remaining intact after the merger along with EXCEL CEO Tim Reichert and Giants CEO Jose Diaz taking on the role of co-CEOs. The merger brings the teams’ audiences under one banner but also follows one of the key trends of 2023: consolidation for survival, or to put it more optimistically, sustainability.

Real Madrid winger Vinícius Júnior is following in Messi’s footsteps and taking on co-ownership of an esports team, with the La Liga star investing in Brazilian organization LOUD. Júnior, a native of Brazil, will produce content for LOUD at the intersection of gaming and sports alongside LOUD’s extensive creator network. The move follows Lionel Messi’s investment in KRU Esports earlier this year, a club founded by former teammate and fellow soccer legend Sergio Aguero.


The PlayStation 5 has eclipsed 50 million in sales, according to a report from Reuters, backed by a record Black Friday for a PlayStation system. Sony, which set its sights on 25 million in PS5 sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, is “still pushing really hard” to meet that goal, Eric Lempel, the senior vice president for global marketing, sales and business operations at Sony Interactive Entertainment, told Reuters. “I think we will have a record-breaking year no matter where we end up,” he added.

In case you missed it, Twitch is shutting down in South Korea, a hallmark of the differences in streaming culture and content consumption abroad. Costs of operating in the country, Twitch said in a statement, were nearly 10 times as high as most of its regular operating areas, with Twitch “operating in Korea at a significant loss” while competing with domestic products such as AfreecaTV. The move left not just Twitch creators in the country looking for answers but also produced some obstacles for brands such as League Champions Korea, the League of Legends domestic league in the nation.

The California Civil Rights Department and Activision Blizzard have reached a $54 million settlement agreement following a lawsuit from the CRD claiming game publisher discriminated against women at the company. The settlement, which followed a two-year investigation by the CRD, “sought relief on behalf of the State of California and a class of women employees and contract workers who allegedly experienced discrimination in compensation, promotions, and other aspects of Activision Blizzard’s workplace.” Around $45 million of the settlement will be put in a settlement fund for affected workers, and Activision Blizzard will be required to keep on independent consultancy to monitor and provide recommendations for the company’s policies for promotions, compensation and training.


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Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is getting an epilogue in early 2024 as well. When is that capstone to the DLC expansions scheduled to release? (Email [email protected] with your answer, and be sure to include your name, company and city).Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
What is the name of the title that won Game of the Year at The Game Awards this year? Answer: Baldur’s Gate 3. Kudos: Michelle Bergmann | Mediassociates, Sandy Hook, Connecticut; Dom Pasquarella | Mediassociates, Sandy Hook, Connecticut; Jesse Dolan | B.A.S.S. LLC, Birmingham, Alabama; Tom Moore | Kalt Productions, Los Angeles; David Westberg | SAG•AFTRA Federal Credit Union, Burbank, California

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