FTC assembling loot box workshop with industry leaders

TL;DR - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States will play host to a workshop in August to which it’s invited industry leaders, academics, and trade associations to discuss loot boxes.  So official is this workshop, it even has its own title: “Inside the Game: Unlocking the Consumer Issues Surrounding Loot Boxes”. The event will take place in Washington DC, will be open to the public, and will be streamed online.  To its credit, the FTC is soliciting feedback and questions from the public leading up to the event. Topics and participants can be suggested up to June 7, and comments will be fielded through October 11. Contact details are included in the article.

Full story - https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2019-04-05-ftc-announces-loot-box-workshop-to-address-consumer-protection-issues

Latest Magic: The Gathering tournament pulls huge Twitch viewership

TL;DR - MTG’s Mythic Invitational at PAX East last weekend managed to draw just over 100k viewers on Twitch, well above it’s 30k - 50k average for past events.  The spike is being attributed to the game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, sponsoring content creators for its new Magic Arena title - a move that’s driven heaps of attention to the game.  However, unlike recent major release sponsorships, content creators aren’t leaving Magic Arena once their sponsorships are up. And their viewers are sticking around too. With a $250k grand prize, it’s no surprise folks have been sticking around.

Full story - https://screenrant.com/magic-the-gathering-mythic-invitational-twitch-viewers/

Streamlabs rolls out new AR Face Masks extension for streamers

TL;DR - Streamlabs’s new Twitch extension, Face Masks, gives streamers the ability to turn emotes into their own augmented reality (AR) overlays.  Currently in Beta, there are 26 facemasks available which viewers can trigger when they subscribe to a streamer’s channel. Streamlabs is billing this as a new way for streamers to monetize and engage with their audiences, as non-subscribers can trigger these facemasks through Bit donations as well.  Face Masks are available for tier 2 and 3 subscribers (12 masks per tier), resubs, and when donating Bits (2 masks open to all). However, streamers must be using SLOBS to take advantage of the extension.

Full story - https://venturebeat.com/2019/04/02/streamlabs-launches-augmented-reality-face-masks-for-twitch-streamers/

Epic Games CEO has no plans to end exclusivity deals for games store

TL;DR - Tim Sweeney has made it clear his company will continue to offer and sign exclusivity deals with game devs and publishers, even if they already have agreements in place with Steam.  Sweeney went on to say that these folks have to make these decisions for themselves, and that Epic won’t turn them down because of existing deals. The company has said it won’t continue this process indefinitely, at least as it relates to PC titles.

Full story - https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2019-04-04-epic-to-continue-signing-exclusivity-deals-regardless-of-steam-plans

In case you missed it…

Over the course of the last couple of months we’ve shared several stories about how brands have been dabbling more seriously in sponsored content on Twitch.  Specifically, the hits and misses we’ve seen happen when companies attempt to work with streamers to promote their products and services.  Unsurprisingly. those sponsorships often come from game developers and publishers but what’s been the most interesting is when brands outside the industry attempt to connect with streaming’s evasive demographic.

Streaming data aggregator Stream Hatchet recently published some data on just how much sponsored content is being consumed by the Twitch community - sort of.  I say it that way because there’s no way to capture this data with absolute certainty. Laws require full disclosure by content creators when their work is being sponsored, but that’s not a sure bet either.  So Stream Hatchet’s process is about as good as it can get, and it does give us insight into the role sponsored content plays in the overall Twitch ecosystem.

Take this past March for example.  According to their analysis, 1% of the total hours watched on Twitch carried #ad in the stream title, a relatively sure bet it was sponsored content.  Taken in context, that’s almost 10M hours of live content consumed in a single month. That’s a lot of hours no matter how you come at it.

Personally I’d like to see Stream Hatchet share the data over time so we can start identifying trends.  If I was to put money on it, I’d say this is trending upwards. Whether that’s because advertisers are seeing the return or because of the general hype would be my next question.  Regardless, this is encouraging news for streamers.

It’s typical for new advertising mediums like this to play out at the upper levels first as the participants find their footing and evaluate the process.  Stream Hatchet’s data supports this. During March, Ninja’s sponsored content made up 5% of the total sponsored hours consumed. In fact, four streamers accounted for nearly 10% of the total sponsored hours consumed.

There’s a huge opportunity in all of this for both brands and smaller streamers once the market/industry adjusts.  Because of their smaller audience size, those streamers tend to have deep connections with their audiences. Access to the streamer is significantly easier for viewers and that access serves to feed long-term engagement.  For brands, that means they’ll be able to connect with specific demographics at lower cost. As for viewers, they’ll be exposed to brands they may actually care about, versus the unavoidable shotgun style approach you see with the largest streamers.

Onwards into another week!