DLive seeing major growth thanks to PewDiePie partnership

TL;DR - Chinese-led streaming platform DLive has posted impressive growth in the last couple of months, largely thanks to its partnership with YouTuber PewDiePie.  The platform has grown to over 70,000 streamers, broadcasting to over 5 million monthly active users, an increase in users of 67% since March. DLive, which is built on the Lino Network blockchain, pays streamers 90.1% of subscription dues and gifts in the form of Lino Points, with the balance being returned to the most popular streamers on the platform.  Lino Points can then be converted into a currency of choice through a platform like PayPal for example. With this approach, DLive’s founders have set their sights on displacing Twitch as the platform of choice for the community, but they’ve got a lot of work left to do.

Full story - https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Startups/YouTube-king-PewDiePie-gives-streaming-startup-DLive-major-boost

Twitch signs partnership deal with Hershey’s and Reese’s brands

TL;DR - The new partnership will actually be an expansion of several smaller campaigns The Hershey Company has been running on Twitch throughout the past several years.  In addition to video ads, TwitchCon attendees can expect to see Hershey’s brands present at this year’s event in San Diego. The company will also be sponsoring already popular Twitch streamers such as TimTheTatman and DrLupo.  Twitch will be working with the candy company on custom extensions for those sponsored streamers to integrate into their broadcasts as well. This particular deal will play out for the balance of 2019, with several other unannounced campaigns in the works.

Full story - https://esportsobserver.com/twitch-hershey-twitchcon/

Dreamhack Valencia to feature $100k women’s CS:GO tourney

TL;DR - Dreamhack Valencia, taking place this summer on Spain’s eastern coast, will include an all-women CS:GO Showdown tournament with a prize pool set at $100k.  This makes it the largest tournament of its kind and is sure to set a precedent for future esports events. Eight teams will be competing, two of which will be invited while the other six will compete in global qualifier tournaments.  The tournament will take place from July 5 - 7, with qualifiers happening in early June.

Full story - https://www.shacknews.com/article/111855/dreamhack-announces-100000-womens-csgo-esports-event

Hearthstone to kick off next month’s update with streamer-only invitational tournament

TL;DR - On June 3rd Blizzard will be rolling out its Rise of the Mech update for Hearthstone and, along with it, The Mechanical-Innvitational.  The tournament’s format will feature teams of two from NA, South Korea, Europe, and Russia & Belarus, building decks of only 20 cards from the Classic, Witchwood, Boomsday Project, and Rastakhan’s Rumble sets.  Each team will also receive 40 Rise of Shadows packs and 5,000 gold, along with access to all cards receiving a buff from this latest mech update. Each victory will earn the players a point which they can spend throughout the tournament on perks and additional packs.  The article includes a full list of perks for those looking to explore this format further. The opening of packs on June 3rd can be watched on the players’ respective Twitch channels, with the actual matches taking place on the 4th, both on the players’ channels as well as the official Hearthstone Twitch channel.  The contestants are being kept a mystery until just before the event.

Full story - https://dotesports.com/hearthstone/news/new-hearthstone-streamer-event-called-the-mechanical-inn-vitational-coming-next-month

US legislation to ban loot boxes introduced with bi-partisan support

TL;DR - Missouri Senator Josh Hawley introduced legislation this week that aims to bring sweeping changes to the pay-to-win and loot box mechanics present in so many of today’s games.  Senators Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Ed Markey (MA) have also signed on to the bill, signaling support from both sides of the aisle. Under the proposed law, all games with pay-to-win (PTW) or loot box mechanics aimed at minors, or in which the publisher “has constructive knowledge that any users are under age 18”, would be outright prohibited.  PTW is defined as any offering that makes progression easier, or provides more time or attempts which are otherwise free. In other words, cooldowns and attempt meters would make a game illegal. Anything cosmetic and any forms of DLC that are buyable once would be exempted. The FTC will handle governance of the law, and would be empowered to hand out very stiff fines to violators.

Full story - https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2019-05-24-us-loot-box-bill-receives-bipartisan-support

Apex Legends continues its epic decline

TL;DR - A report from Superdata has shown that the once immensely popular FPS battle-royale title from EA may be in full decline.  According to the data, Apex Legends has completely dropped from the top ten revenue charts for both PC and console, whilst its competitors continue to hold strong.  Furthermore, since its release in February this year, the game’s Twitch viewership has dropped precipitously. It sat comfortably at around 200k concurrent viewers at launch, but in May has struggled to stay at 20k consistently.  Factors to blame include an unwillingness of players to purchase in-game content (i.e. MTX), the persistence of frustrating bugs and hackers, and a lack of overall excitement about the game’s content roadmap.

Full story - https://glitched.africa/news/apex-legends-2/

Artifact’s Twitch directory has taken a turn for the strange

TL;DR - Artifact, the Dota 2-themed card game, never really took off - losing 95% of its player base just two months since Valve released it.  The publisher has done little to address concerns from players about the game and, thus, its viewership on streaming platforms like Twitch has absolutely tanked.  However, the game’s Twitch directory has effectively been taken over by rogue channels capitalizing on the lack of attention it’s getting from the publisher. Channels featuring illegal movie streams, anime, and even porn are present on the regular.  At the time we wrote this, there were only two streams live in the directory and both were legitimate. So it’s possible Twitch has taken notice and cleaned things up, but there’s no real way to prevent it from happening again.

Full story - https://gamerant.com/artifact-twitch-stream/

In case you missed it…

A couple of weeks back the Wall Street Journal published a feature on live-streaming, highlighting some of the streamers at the top bringing in hefty paychecks.  The article itself was paywalled but several other publications have posted their own write-ups of the WSJ article. You can check out the write up at Inc. here.

The WSJ and these subsequent pieces don’t reveal too much new info for those of us that follow the industry closely, but they do provide some interesting insights into the world the top < 1% of streamers occupy.  

In the Inc. article, for instance, they look back at what EA paid streamers like Ninja and DrLupo to play Apex Legends at release.  They then take us through some rough math to arrive at a figure for what EA paid to get players to download their free game, which was about $1.20 per.  Factor in what we know about the revenue potential for microtransactions (MTX), and a buck twenty is a paultry sum for near unlimited revenue potential.

Given the latest news about Apex Legends this may not have been the wisest investment choice for EA, but it does illustrate and reinforce the shift we’re seeing in marketing as it relates to the live-streaming economy.

We’ve shared several articles in the past about how forward-thinking companies are jumping on the live-streaming ship to push their products and seeing success in the process.  The Apex Legends example provides an important case study for putting the proverbial cart before the horse. While the game was arguably release ready, it certainly wasn’t ready for the sort of attention EA’s millions in marketing dollars would bring.  

Tapping into top tier talent may look appealing on paper if your budget supports it, but there are longer term expectations that those new customers will have that must be met.  EA and Respawn have struggled to keep Apex current, exciting, and clean enough to support that initial wave of hype they generated with an aggressive marketing push. Hindsight being what it is, they’d have been better off doing a light push to get players into the game while they worked out those inevitable post-launch kinks and frustrations.  Then, once things were in a better state, they could have poured piles of cash into promoting the game to massive influencers who likely would have played the game for longer - ultimately increasing the value of every dollar EA spent.

There are bound to be more hits and misses as companies learn from their mistakes and those of others.  The future of Apex is unsure at this point, but it’s too early to count the game, or EA, out. 20k concurrent viewers is nothing to take lightly.  And the battle royale genre is currently holding strong on the charts. Apex’s renaissance could happen just as quickly as its decline unfolded.