[movedo_button button_text="+" button_hover_color="primary-3" button_size="small" button_shape="round" button_link="https://esc.today/our-services/"]

brands

Riots Valorant

Riots Valorant 877 493 esctoday

Isn’t even out yet, but it’s already looking like an eSports sensation

 

“The tactical shooter is breaking Twitch records, and it’s still in closed beta.

Riot’s new video game, Valorant, is both a breath of fresh air and completely unoriginal at the same time. The first-person shooter opened its closed beta on Tuesday to gargantuan Twitch viewership, thanks in part to Riot’s deal with the platform that let popular streamers gift access keys to its beta while they played the game live.

After watching many hours of the game and playing quite a few myself, it’s clear that Valorant is a hyper-competitive game catering to perhaps a small slice of the overall gaming community. (Right now, it’s only on PC, with no plans for a console release.) But that doesn’t matter, because it already seems quite likely to be the next big esports sensation, despite its hardcore nature and the fact that it borrows almost every single component of its design from previous competitive titles.

That’s partly because Valorant, even in its beta form, is arriving at a crucial moment for the competitive gaming scene. Much of the esports world revolves around multiplayer online battle arenas, or MOBAs, like Valve’s Dota 2 and Riot’s own megahit League of Legends. There are peripheral esports communities, like the fighting game community and those that surround individual games like Psyonix’s Rocket League, that exist as niche subcultures within the broader esports field, but MOBAs reign supreme.

Only games made by companies with immense resources like Activision Blizzard with the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League and Epic Games with Fortnite have dared to try to buy a seat at the table through unique league structures, high-production values, and massive prize pools.

‘Valorant’ combines ‘Overwatch’ superpowers with a ‘Countrer-Strike’ structure

There is, however, one big exception: Counter-Strike. Arguably the tactical team-based shooter from which Valorant borrows almost all of its structure, Counter-Strike has remained the one competitive FPS resilient to the ever-changing industry and still inexplicably popular all around the world. Counter-Strike has a global fan base that Call of Duty lacks, and it still ranks it as among the top-played games on Steam and the most-watched titles on Twitch, despite its release nearly eight years ago. Right now, more than 1 million people are playing the game on Steam, making it almost as popular on PC than the next four top games combined.

That’s precisely why Valorant seems primed for success. Simply put, the game combines character-specific superpowers heavily influenced by Overwatch with a tense, high-intensity tactical shooter model more or less carbon-copied from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Riot is attempting to build a modern Counter-Strike, one that appeals to a generation of MOBA fans that grew up on the idea of honing your skill as a specific hero with unique powers and an ultimate ability to use in crucial, match-defining moments.

Going from the early reception on Twitch, Valorant is getting that recipe right in a way that might pull big streamers and pro players away from other games. The game broke Twitch’s record for most-watched game in a single day, with 34 million hours watched. And the game’s peak concurrent viewership of 1.7 million people was second only to the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.

There’s another factor that could contribute to the game’s success: Valorant is not a battle royale game. Riot is bucking the trend that’s taken the gaming industry by storm for the last three years or so by releasing a tactical shooter. Since the release of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in early 2017, BR games have consumed the shooter market. Fortnite is one of the most dominant games on the planet across all platforms, while a number of competitors have popped up to try to capitalize on Epic’s moneymaking potential, like Respawn’s Apex Legends and Activision’s Call of Duty: Warzone. But we’re also experiencing a bit of BR fatigue, as the initial excitement of the genre fades and its esports potential has proved hit-or-miss.

Valorant is stepping in to offer an alternative, one with a more traditional, team-based and skill-based approach that hardcore shooter fans seem receptive to because it removes all of the luck and randomness of the BR genre. In the handful of games I played in the beta yesterday, I was shocked at how meticulous and slow-moving the game is. Each match demands one team plant a bomb and protect it, while the other tries to defuse it. You have just one life per round. When one team wipes the other completely, which happens often, the round ends early — unless the bomb was planted, and then it must be defused.

‘Valorant’ plays almost identically to ‘Counter-Strike’ where good aim and reflexes are paramount

The team that wins 13 rounds first wins the entire match. And in my experience, that can take upward of 30 to 40 minutes if you’re going up against a squad well-matched with yours. The hero abilities, while they’ve earned Valorant a lot of comparisons to Overwatch, are not as critical as I thought. Having superhuman aim and reflexes, combined with the ability to predict the opponent’s actions and communicate and collaborate with your teammates will largely determine your level of success. Learning how to use the various weapons you can buy at the start of each round — also a feature borrowed from Counter-Strike — will determine how deadly you can be.

The powers are just there to shake things up and, in my estimation, give people moments of glory that they can brag about online and share on social media, similar to how a well-timed Overwatch ultimate activation can earn you the coveted play of the game highlight in Blizzard’s team shooter. Some are quite fun to use, like Jett’s updraft jump and tailwind dash abilities. And Sova, the Hanzo-like bowman Riot uses for the game’s tutorial, has some fantastic benefits, like allowing you to see enemies through walls and even strike them down with his hunter’s fury ultimate.

But at the end of the day, any other player can take you down with a headshot at basically any moment, rendering any powers pretty much moot. In my Valorant matches, I found myself getting punished routinely for stupid mistakes, like peeking around a corner when I was unsure if an enemy was already doing so or forgetting to walk quietly while using the shift key to dampen the sound of my footsteps. Charging into a situation alone will get you killed almost immediately nine times out of 10. Forgetting to play the objective and getting caught up in small firefights will also put your team at a disadvantage as the timer starts ticking down closer to zero.

Valorant is, above all else, a tactical game that requires you to communicate with your teammates to succeed and demands you practice your aim to have any hope of winning a one-on-one bout. That level of skill requirement and dedication may mean it doesn’t hit mainstream levels of popularity like Fortnite or Overwatch, but the game’s design does position Valorant as a more accessible esport than a BR title or something as chaotic as Overwatch or a MOBA. As Counter-Strike has proved over the years, some games, especially easy-to-understand tactical shooters, don’t need 100 million active players to become popular esports; you just need a community of very dedicated fans willing to tune in and keep up with it.

Tactical shooters move slow enough and have clear enough objectives that they are easy to watch and digest, even for viewers who don’t play the game regularly. I can already see the appeal of watching a big Valorant tournament or keeping some favorite streamers playing it casually on in the background while I do something else.

Valorant’ is much more accessible than more chaotic esports like ‘Dota 2’ and ‘Overwatch’

Each round has a coherent start, middle, and end, and there’s a great momentum that builds toward the halfway point when teams switch sides and then the end of a match that makes tuning in at any moment worthwhile. There are opportunities for highlight plays using a well-timed ultimate ability, and one player can, against all odds, take on an entire team alone if they’re skilled enough. There’s a lot of potential for lasting entertainment with Valorant, even if it’s not really the kind of game you enjoy playing yourself.

Valorant has a long road ahead to release. We don’t know exactly when it’s coming out besides a summer to potentially early fall release window, whether it will even come out on consoles, and what exactly Riot’s esports ambitions are. But the game’s early success and the surprisingly effective combination of elements Riot has polled off set up Valorant as the most exciting new game to hit the competitive scene in years. It has the potential to become the company’s next League of Legends, but that will depend on whether the sum of its parts can give it more staying power than all the games it’s borrowing from”

 

 

Ripple Partner Integrate Blockchain

Ripple Partner Integrate Blockchain 960 640 esctoday

Ripple Partner Forte Teaming Up With Game Developers To Integrate Blockchain

Forte, a blockchain technology company with a strong focus on gaming, has recently partnered with a host of well-regarded game developers to try and implement blockchain and unlock new business models in the ever-evolving space. 

Forte has announced that Hi-Rez Studios, Netmarble, Magmic, nWay, and DECA Games are all part of its next induction of gaming partners. They join previously announced developer partners, Disruptor Beam, Other Ocean, and Kongregate. 

Part of the reason that Forte and its blockchain solution is becoming more and more popular and attractive to game developers is that the blockchain platform benefits both existing and future titles. It has the potential to unlock never-before-possible revenue streams in traditional game designs, while being versatile enough to serve as the economic and creative foundation for blockchain-native experiences. 

What makes Forte and its partnerships even more interesting is that the company is backed by a $100 million War Chest from Ripple; the company behind the XRP cryptocurrency and the company that is focused primarily on integrating blockchain and cryptocurrency into traditional banking. 

A growing relationship

The affinity for blockchain and the gaming space was identified early on as there are many different areas that blockchain technology, as well as the cryptocurrency side of things, can be applied in the industry. However, the partnership between these two different sides is still very much in development, with a lot of future potential. 

 

Coca-Cola Consolidated Richmond Raceway eSports

Coca-Cola Consolidated Richmond Raceway eSports 1200 675 esctoday

Richmond Raceway eSports partners with Coca-Cola Consolidated

 

“Richmond Raceway eSports Fueled by Sunoco has appointed Coca-Cola Consolidated as its official refreshment partner. Coca-Cola Consolidated – the largest independent Coca-Cola bottler – has received naming rights to Richmond Raceway’s development team, now known as Coca-Cola ReD.

Coca-Cola has increased its involvement in sim racing in 2020, becoming the entitlement sponsor for the eNASCAR iRacing Series, the sim racing platform’s longest-running NASCAR championship. The drinks company is also partnered with Pittsburgh Knights, Tespa, paiN Gaming, and Overwatch League.

 

Heather Hucks, Senior Director of Brand Marketing at Coca-Cola Consolidated, commented on the partnership in a release: “Coca-Cola Consolidated is always looking to find innovative ways to engage with racing fans and partners. With the launch of Coca-Cola Energy, we are excited to provide Richmond Raceway eSports fans and drivers with a new beverage experience before, during and after iRacing competitions.”

Coca-Cola will be the primary sponsor of driver Jimmy Mullis, one of two Richmond Raceway eSports drivers competing in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series.

Mullis added: “It feels great to be driving the No. 46 Coca-Cola Consolidated Toyota Camry this season for Richmond Raceway eSports Fueled by Sunoco. Knowing Coca-Cola Consolidated’s history in NASCAR, it is an honor to represent them in the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. I look forward to putting our Coca-Cola Toyota Camry up front this season.”

 

Esports Insider says: Coca-Cola itself has ramped up its esports presence in recent months, including with eNASCAR. Even though Coca-Cola Consolidated is independent, it’s clear that sim racing is becoming a target market in this industry for the brand.

 

The Esports Industry Is Booming

The Esports Industry Is Booming 1920 1080 esctoday

The esports industry is booming, and it’s seeking female applicants

 

“Studies show that women comprise 30 percent of esports viewership and 35 percent of esport gamers. These numbers are growing each year. The video game industry is male-dominated, but esports companies are banding together to recognize female gamers and revolutionize the industry. 

Earlier this month, more than 250 guests attended the For The Women Gaming summit in Philadelphia, which was hosted by Spectacor Gaming and Nerd Street Gamers. Participants played games and checked out new products in esports, which are wildly popular organized gaming competitions. Panelists also discussed their professional journeys into esports, personal experiences in their roles and how they are working to create an industry that encourages women to pursue careers in gaming.

The industry is booming. In fact, esports was a $1 billion industry in 2019, and executives at the conference agreed that inclusivity toward women will be the key to its continued success.

A 2019 study from data firm Interpret found that women comprise 30 percent of esports viewership and 35 percent of esport gamers and that these numbers are growing each year. Know Your Value interviewed several executives at the summit, including Joe Marsh, CEO of T1 Entertainment and Sports.

“You can have a mixed-gender [esports] team, and that’s the only professional sport in the world where that can be done,” said Marsh at the event, which took place at the Comcast Technology Center. “There are a lot of women who game and they’re really, really good…They’re going to make space better.”

 

 

The most popular esport competitions feature professional gamers and teams battling in live tournaments through multiplayer online video games, such as “League of Legends” or “World of Warcraft.” Viewers of these competitions have increased year over year, reaching 380 million in 2018, according to Influencer Marketing Hub. Gaming analysis firm Newzoo predicts that by 2021, viewership will reach 557 million.

Women are often victims of harassment or discrimination in gaming, which can deter them from playing esports, let alone seeking out a job in the booming industry, according to attendees. Multiplayer gamers might reveal their gender over chats or microphones when they talk to other players, for example, leading to toxic interactions.

 

 

“Growing up when I was playing video games, I would get harassed over the mic,” said Julie Truong, director of business operations at Philadelphia Fusion, a professional esports organization. “I would have to mute my mic until I proved myself first.” However, For the Women attendees maintained that the esports industry is changing the game”

 

ESL Pro League And Prominent Esports

ESL Pro League And Prominent Esports 960 640 esctoday

ESL Pro League And Prominent Esports Teams Ink Monumental ‘Louvre Agreement’

 

Though competitive gaming has been around for quite some times, e-sports as a business is still maturing at a relatively deliberate pace – but a recently announced alliance between the world’s largest and longest-standing e-sports network/tournament organizer, ESL, and 13 of the most popular and successful e-sports teams marks a huge step forward to ensuring long-term sustainability of the business of e-sports.

In spite of the massive growth of e-sports, the professional e-sports space has remained largely fractured up to this point with scores of teams, tournament organizers, and leagues cropping up around about half a dozen game titles. To make matters more complicated, unlike traditional sports where the games themselves are in the public domain such that anyone with the proper equipment and access to facilities can play, the games in e-sports are owned by the game publishers who maintain outsized influence and control over how and by whom their titles are used.

As a result, e-sports teams maintain additional and separate teams under their own umbrella to play a specific title and enter into tournaments on a somewhat ad-hoc basis. Many of these same teams are also member of “hub and spoke” leagues owned by game publishers like The Overwatch League and Call of Duty League, which resemble traditional sports leagues in terms of both centralized governance and the selling of franchises.

This lack of centralization across the world of e-sports has raised serious questions about the long-term economic sustainability of e-sports as most of the money pouring into the sport is largely coming by way of sponsorships from various brands. Ultimately, there needs to be consolidation and a blood-letting of teams and leagues that aren’t profitable as well as some sort of detente with the game publishers that keeps them from pulling the proverbial “plug” if and when the businesses predicated upon their intellectual property become substantially successful without cutting them in.

The existence of these structural obstacles within the world of e-sports is exactly why this deal between ESL and the list of teams that includes a well-represented swath of the most successful and well-heeled teams in e-sports, including the top-earning team, Evil Geniuses, is so consequential. “The Louvre Agreement,” as it’s being called, gives these 13 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (”CS:GO”) teams a majority stake in the ESL Pro League which includes a share of both revenue and profits generated from the events.