Epic pushing major update to Fortnite’s streamer mode

TL;DR - Responding to recent criticism from streamers about getting sniped more frequently, Epic is pushing an update for Fortnite’s streamer mode.  Streamers will now have an “Anonymous” and “Hide Other Players’ Names” option when activating streamer mode. The former will mask only the streamer’s name but not everyone else’s.  The latter will make every player anonymous, only showing “Player #” in the kill feed. These changes will roll out in the v7.30 update in late January. Both options can be enabled at the same time.

Full story - https://www.dexerto.com/fortnite/major-changes-coming-to-fortnites-streamer-mode-will-further-help-prevent-stream-sniping-309545

StreamElements raises $11.3M in Series A round

TL;DR - The round was led by Pitango Venture Capital, State of Mind Ventures, Rainfall VC, and Samsung Next among others.  The “production platform” for streamers claims 600% user growth in the last year, with more than 200,000 streamers on Twitch and YouTube using the service.  StreamElements is projecting revenue for creators to exceed $40M this year, and expects to become the top production platform on Twitch. This latest round will be put towards growing its global brand partnerships team.

Full story - https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-israeli-live-streaming-co-streamelements-raises-113m-1001270394

Gaming content facing hardships as major advertiser returns to YouTube

TL;DR - YouTube’s new ad policy, which triggered the ad-pocalypse of 2017, is apparently working - for some.  AT&T has announced it will begin advertising again on the video platform, but will avoid gaming content due to “unsavory chatter and behavior”.  The company’s chief brand officer has referred to such videos as “fringe content”, despite being one of the most prevalent genres on the platform.  AT&T is happy with the restrictions YouTube has put on its Partner Program, specifically the requirement for more subscribers and viewing hours. What this means for gaming content creators is hard to say, however it does set a dangerous precedent for gamers and streamers looking to monetize on the platform.

Full story - https://www.dexerto.com/entertainment/major-advertiser-returns-to-you-tube-will-avoid-gaming-content-305296

Sea of Thieves unexpectedly vaults into Twitch’s top 10

TL;DR - Thanks to the efforts of Summit1G, and a December update that addressed many of the issues players had surfaced since the game launched in March, Sea of Thieves is back.  Summit’s return to the game has attracted other, smaller streamers, which has continued to boost viewership, and thus positioning on Twitch. In fact, the game has become the second-best selling title on the Microsoft store.  At the time this was written, Sea of Thieves was number four at prime time.

Full story - https://www.kotaku.com.au/2019/01/sea-of-thieves-has-unexpectedly-become-one-of-twitchs-biggest-games/

US video game industry eclipsed $40B in sales last year

TL;DR - The industry as a whole in the US posted sales of just over $43 billion in 2018.  This data, tracked by The NPD Group, includes hardware and software, the latter including in-game purchases.  Those in-game purchases and subscriptions accounted for over $35 billion of the total, up 18% year over year. This sales figure puts the video game industry ahead of the TV, movie, and music industries.

Full story - https://www.shacknews.com/article/109484/us-video-game-sales-hit-434-billion-in-2018-a-new-record

PUBG Lite introduces free-to-play option to popular battle royale title

TL;DR - Rather than optimize the full version of the game, PUBG Corp has opted to release a PUBG Lite f2p version for people “who were previously unable to access the game due to the specification requirements”.  This new version has been in testing in Southeast Asia since October of last year, and will include the Erangel map at launch. Fans of the game can expect continued support and new maps like Vikendi further down the road.

Full story - https://www.dexerto.com/pubg/pubg-is-releasing-a-free-to-play-version-of-the-game-301259

Profit-sharing and event sponsorship coming to PUBG pro league

TL;DR - In order to assist teams in the NPL and PEL, PUBG Corp is launching an initiative that will bring profit-sharing, direct support of operational costs, and event sponsorship.  Assistance for operational costs will go towards travel and housing, while a percentage of the sale of in-game items that are team and league-branded will go directly to participating teams.  These changes are expected to occur around late April of this year. PUBG partners will be eligible to sponsor events throughout the year, which will include teams from the six regional leagues and exclusive in-game items.  25% of the sales from those events will go to the teams involved. PUBG Corp will also match the prize pool dollar-for-dollar, doubling the opportunity for the teams.

Full story - https://esportsinsider.com/2019/01/pubg-esports-financial-initiatives/

In case you missed it…

In the latter half of 2018, Twitch announced it would be ending the ad-free component of Twitch Prime.  This news came not coincidentally after it was leaked that CEO Emmett Shear had tasked the company with hitting $1 billion in ad revenue in the coming year.  A number which was roughly double what the company was producing at the time.

When Twitch was acquired by Amazon in 2014 there was heaps of speculation about what the purchase would mean for a video game streaming platform like Twitch.  After all, Amazon was known as one of the greatest of all time retailers - not exactly something you’d think to intermingle with a live-streaming platform. But you didn’t need to dig too deep to see the potential.

However, the most apparent course of action is not always the one that takes shape.  Yes, Twitch has integrated physical product sales into Twitch streams and it’s been met with marginal success - or so we’ve been told.  The less obvious play for Amazon was acquiring access (something we’ll be talking a lot about soon) to one of the most difficult demographics when it comes to advertising.

Therefore it was incumbent upon Twitch to begin stitching together the strategy necessary to reach those would-be consumers in a way that would, to put it bluntly, sell things.  There’ve been some hits and many misses in the very short nearly five years since the purchase went through, which is totally understandable. Say what you will about the changes to Twitch Prime, the company is trying to find things that work and I believe they’ll eventually create a viable model.  Bridges may be burned in the process but let’s be very real here for a minute. ALL of the content on Twitch is 100% free.  It isn’t unreasonable by any measure that ads will appear and will continue to appear into the foreseeable future.  For those that just don’t see it my way, there’s always Turbo!

What it comes down to is time.  There are only so many hours in a day and therefore only so many opportunities for someone to do anything.  The fact that Twitch streamers can command audiences well into the tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands for any period of time is astonishing.  The effect of this is being felt across the entire entertainment industry.  When you factor in video games in general (i.e. not just streaming), it’s even more astonishing just how much share of attention our industry is capable of commanding.

Gamesindustry.biz published a very interesting article on the threat Fortnite alone poses to streaming services like Netflix.  Two very different things, but again there are only so many hours in the day.  With games like Fortnite capturing such a large audience, it’s natural that a portion of that audience will gravitate to streaming services like Twitch - either to stream or as viewers.  When viewed at this altitude, it’s easy to see how streamers like many of you reading this are competing with Netflix, Hulu, Disney, and others for share of attention. That shifts the perspective of just how meaningful and important each and every viewer’s time is when they drop into a channel, even if it’s just for a few minutes to say hello.  Remember, the audience can always be doing something else.