Apex Legends absent from YouTube Gaming due to platform bug
TL;DR - While Apex Legends has been busy tearing up the charts on Twitch, it’s been noticeably absent from YouTube Gaming’s roster. Due to a bug in the platform’s “automated process”, Apex Legends wasn’t picked up and added so that streamers could choose the game and viewers could actually browse a directory. The team at YTG are treating the bug as a high priority until resolved.
ESL walks away from Facebook-exclusive streaming deal
TL;DR - ESL has officially ended its exclusive streaming agreement with Facebook for all of its events. It will continue to stream on the social media platform, but it’s opening up to include any other streaming platforms as well. The change came amid steep declines in viewership and backlash from the community that began immediately after the agreement was originally signed.
Apex Legends eclipses 52M hours watched since launch
TL;DR - It’s no surprise at this point how popular Apex Legends has been on Twitch. But numbers tell the full story - and they’re fun too! In the first week + since the game was launched, a staggering 52.5 million hours had been watched on Twitch alone. This thanks in large part to EA paying some very influential people on Twitch to try the game, but those people have kept playing. Unlike CoD 4: Blackout, which had a strong launch but then saw most of the top streamers go back to either Fortnite or PUBG after about a week or two - Apex Legends may have what it takes to hang out with the big kids.
Heroes of the Storm viewership on steady decline after Blizzard pulled competitive support
TL;DR - Activision-Blizzard’s announcement it would end support for competitive HotS back in December could be affecting the game’s popularity on Twitch. At that time, the HotS was averaging just over 4k viewers at any given time. Today, that number is closer to 2.2k - a decline of nearly half. Tempo Storm’s recent invitational event, with a $10k top prize, was only able to pull about 1,700 viewers. For perspective, the average viewership this month is the lowest it’s ever been for the game going back several years.
Tencent releases ruleset for anyone live-streaming its games
TL;DR - In the wake of China issuing a set of standards for live-streams, Tencent has joined the club with its own set of rules for any streamers intending to broadcast from its catalog. Among Tencent’s 12 rules are guidelines for words or actions that challenge social stability, government policies, and personal privacy. Also included are rules against behavior that could “damage user experience” and the “brand of Tencent’s games”. On the more reasonable side of things, there are rules against cheating, boosting (ironically), and spreading viruses. Streamers are also forbidden from prematurely ending any contracts they have with live-streaming platforms - a growing issue for the Chinese streaming community. Violations could result in bans from Tencent titles, of which there are many, and losing any sponsorships or agreements the streamer may have with the company. It’s important to remember that Tencent titles include LoL, and PUBG - both massively popular titles around the world.
OWL season 2 opener sees significant viewership drop versus last year
TL;DR - The OWL season 2 opening match saw the returning champion London Spitfire take the stage against the Philadelphia Fusion. While the match posted an impressive 297k peak concurrent viewers on Twitch, it was still down by 127k against the same match last year. It’s worth noting this was the most popular match of the day, if Chinese viewership is ignored. The Shanghai Dragons / Hangzhou Spark was the most attractive match of the day for the Chinese crowd - if you believe those numbers.
Activision-Blizzard axes 8% of workforce after record revenues in 2018
TL;DR - We shared a story last week that this was likely coming and, unfortunately, it has. Approximately 700 employees received the pink slip from the developer after it announced 2018 saw record revenues and earnings. The issue is the “pressure” on revenue since its deal with Bungie expired, and since its flagship titles have lost share to newcomers like Fortnite and, now, Apex Legends. AB has no battle royale title and that’s all the rage at the moment. The company expects revenue growth to slow indefinitely in 2019.
Esports market worldwide to top $1 billion in revenue this year
TL;DR - Newzoo’s latest global esports marketing report projects the industry to exceed $1 billion in revenue in 2019. Using its “predictive esports market model”, the research firm combines data from various sources including its own consumer research, and macroeconomic and census data, to arrive at the $1B figure. The biggest contributor is predicted to be sponsorships, which should make up approximately 42% of the year’s revenue. Media rights were a distant second at 23%.
In case you missed it…
Battle royale titles have dominated the directories of every streaming platform ever since PUBG debuted in 2017. Since then, titles have come and gone but the one constant is that BR is the genre du jour. Fortnite has enjoyed the top spot in the genre for well over a year despite challengers like Realm Royale and Call of Duty Black Ops 4: Blackout making a big initial impact.
Since the debut of PUBG, developers and publishers have been learning and refining their process. The goal being a smooth as butter launch with a big burst of hype, backed up by a solid launch experience for players. And brother, is EA showing us how it’s done with Apex Legends.
Not only is the game in a state you’d expect from a triple-A studio at launch, players and streamers are loving it. And EA, a company that last year took a hellacious PR beating over it’s questionable monetization tactics, may have righted its ship with this one. The company’s stock is up 11% for the month, boosted by the fact that the game has already attracted more than 25 million players in just two weeks.
EA’s marketing is also on point. In what could serve as a model for future releases, the company relied almost exclusively on a short burst of top tier influencer promotion to secure an invaluable amount of post-launch exposure. When the game dropped on Feb. 4, EA had sponsored a line-up of streamers guaranteed to drive maximum exposure on Twitch. Just one day later, those deals had run their course and Apex was flying solo. It’s had no trouble maintaining the top spot since. At the time I’m writing this, it’s sitting comfortably at 240k viewers - roughly 80k ahead of second place Fortnite.
What’s worth noting is that those sponsored streamers (and many, many others), are STILL playing the game, two weeks post-launch. It’s been widely accepted there’s an appetite in the streaming community for something new, both from the viewer’s and streamer’s standpoint. While the BR genre is remarkably compatible with streaming, it does tend to get stale quickly. Fortnite has addressed this with a steady stream of updates, content collaborations, and the introduction of new mechanics and weaponry. However well Apex does in the coming weeks and months, it’s a given that EA must follow its predecessor’s footsteps in that regard if it’s to remain relevant.
This all points at the value streaming now represents in the gaming industry. Viewership is a great vanity indicator of how well a game may perform, but longevity is how money is truly made. At this point it’s impossible to say if Apex Legends will stay the course and continue its winning streak, of if it will be relegated to the growing heap of interesting yet ultimately irrelevant BR titles.
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