Gaming tab lands on Facebook’s main nav

TL;DR - The new gaming tab in Facebook’s top nav, will take users to a content feed that includes actual games, VoDs from streamers and others in the industry, and updates from gaming groups.  Of the 700 million users that Facebook claims interact with gaming content on its platform, a select number will initially be invited with more to come as engagement is assessed.

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Twitch teams with Namco for 2019 Tekken World competition

TL;DR - Beginning in April, Bandai Namco will kick off the next competitive season of the Tekken World Tournament.  The competition will span 25 locations, with the first event being held in Lyon, France. The full series will run through November, culminating in a set of finals matches in Bangkok, Thailand.  20 players will compete, selected based on their TWT leaderboard rankings. Throughout the season, players can earn points to qualify for the finals in Thailand. The full ruleset is covered in the article so if Tekken is your thing, be sure to check it out.

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Fortnite responsible for bulk of top YouTubers’ views

TL;DR - According to a report from the analytics firm Fancensus, the variety of games being played by the top performers on YouTube has dwindled dramatically over the last few years.  The number of unique games in those videos shrank from 383 in 2016 to only 28 in 2018. And 94% of the views for the top 10 YouTubers are coming from Fortnite. In the top hundred Fortnite isn’t quite as dominant, but it’s still considerable at around 61% of all views.

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Call of Duty esports league franchises set to cost $25 million

TL;DR - Esports orgs looking to get in on Activision’s upcoming Call of Duty League, set to get underway in 2020, will need $25 million to secure their slot.  The city-based franchise system is already open for business, with Activision meeting would-be buyers, some with presence in other competitive leagues already.  Orgs with Overwatch League teams will enjoy first right of refusal for their cities, but interested buyers only have 14 days to inform of their intent. Along with this news, Activision announced it’s planning a CoD amateur league which will compete in LAN events starting this year.

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Discord to begin shifting game sales to developers directly

TL;DR - In response to community feedback after it rolled out its games marketplace as part of the Nitro service, Discord is shifting more of the selling onto the developers themselves.  Through new verified servers, developers can now create dedicated store channels on their servers through which buyers can score their games. The store tab in the Discord app will be replaced with the Nitro catalog of games instead.  Developers opting in to the new program will also gain access to advanced analytics around their game sales. Additionally, they can sell early access and in-app purchases to their new titles through their servers.

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PlayerUnknown leaving PUBG for special projects division

TL;DR - Brendan Greene, creator of PUBG and director of development on the game for PUBG Corp., announced he’s leaving that position to move over to PUBG Special Projects.  The move will take him from Seoul, S. Korea to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The announcement came via Twitter, after Greene completed five years on the title that bears his name.  This new division will reportedly lead research and game development efforts but no other details were shared. Greene will continue to be a consultant for the PUBG game itself, but a new creative director will be taking over.

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OWL teams will be heading home for the 2020 season

TL;DR - Nate Nanzer, the league’s commissioner, discussed the move for next season during an interview at South by Southwest.  This was part of Blizzard’s plan all along, but to-date all matches have been held at the company’s Burbank venue, the Blizzard Arena.  Starting next year, the league will adopt a “tour” format in which teams travel to the homes of opposing teams just like in traditional sports.  Naturally this will be region specific to minimize travel expenses. Teams will be responsible for local logistics like venues, ticketing, and concessions.  During the current season, the OWL will host three home games in Dallas, Atlanta, and LA as a test for this upcoming change.

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EA to debut new esports broadcast center at Madden NFL 19 Challenge

TL;DR - Electronic Arts announced it has completed its esports broadcast studio which is housed at its HQ in Redwood Shores, CA.  The sports broadcaster plans to use the new facility for hosting tournaments, shows, and basically everything film and esports related.  The debut event will be the Madden NFL 19 Challenge, part of the game’s overall $1.255M championship series. Interestingly the venue also includes spectator seating and the Players’ Lounge which has cameras and mics installed to catch all the action.

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ESPN rolling out its own College Esports Championship

TL;DR - ESPN’s new CEC will allow students to compete in Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, and Street Fighter V for a chance at scholarships.  The sports broadcaster has lined up “hundreds” of schools across North America to compete in the first iteration of the new league. Matches will be streamed worldwide on ESPN and other streaming platforms which are yet to be disclosed.  The partnership with Blizzard likely explains why the company ended its Heroes of the Dorm series in December last year.

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In case you missed it…

In what almost feels like a continuation of an unintentional series of ICYMIs we’ve published lately, there was a leak this week that Ninja may have been paid upwards of $1 million to stream Apex Legends for a single day.  According to the article, this was leaked to Reuters by an anonymous source, likely someone at EA.

Since nothing has been confirmed (we DO know he was paid - #ad), we don’t know the exact sum or for how long was the term of the agreement.  What’s worth noting here is that it happened in the first place, and that it most definitely had an impact on the game’s stellar launch performance.

As we’ve shared in the past, this manner of promotion is becoming more mainstream and that’s fantastic news for most streamers - not just the big ones.  The thing is, not every developer can afford the kind of price tag Ninja and other top tier streamers demand for promoting a title. And there are far more small or indie developers out there looking for any exposure they can get to the right audiences.

While the market may not be there just yet, the more these kinds of deals get publicity, the better it is across the board for the streaming community.  As viewers we get to see some of our favorite content creators try out a new game and we can get a sense for whether we’ll like it. For streamers, there will be ample opportunities to further monetize their content and engage more closely with their audiences.  That’s where the real value lies!