esports games

New Jersey eSports Wagers

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New Jersey accepts first esports wagers

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) gave approval for the state’s licensed sportsbooks to accept wagers on the recent League of Legends World Championship finals.

The ruling marks the first time the Garden State saw wagers placed on esports, following suit from Nevada, which accepted its first esports bet on IEM Oakland in 2016 with bookmaker William Hill.

While the DGE had given sportsbooks the green light to accept wagers on the tournament, it  applied a few mandates. A limit of $1,000 (£776.25) in bets on the match and a strict prohibition of in-game offerings were instilled ahead of the preliminary trial. The New Jersey esports offering was made available for the weekend, and the weekend only, per the DGE’s permission.

The Borgata casino in Atlantic City accepted New Jersey’s first stake as a Philadelphia broadcaster placed $100 (£77.62) on G2Esports to take home the gold in the finals. Marcus Glover, President of Borgata spoke to the importance of DGE’s decision to welcome esports gambling: “Borgata is proud to be at the forefront of this significant milestone as we look to engage with future generations of esports fans as well as traditional sports fans.”

David Schwartz, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas acknowledged the Garden State’s voyage moment: “I think in the short term, betting on esports has the potential to be a small growth area. There is definitely fan interest, but right now betting on sports outside of the big three — football, basketball, baseball — is pretty small in the U.S. So it would be a small share of a small share of the overall sports betting handle.”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal PASPA and allow for legalized sports betting (on a state by state basis) in May 2018, New Jersey has been the most explosive adopter of licensed gambling on sports – both live and online. According to the Associated Press, New Jersey gambling regulators “thoroughly investigated the tournament until they were satisfied as to its integrity before approving bets on it.”

Though a sea of unregulated bookmakers makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact value of esports’ betting handle, it’s speculated the industry is currently worth over $1.5 billion and experiencing a 30 percent average revenue increase year over year, according to Calvin Ayre

Esports Insider says: Although New Jersey’s permission to accept esports wagers is currently a one-off exemption, it could prove to garner more interest around the possibility of a full-time occupancy in the Garden State. 

Esports Gamers Face Pressure

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Esports gamers face same level of psychological pressure as pro-athletes

ESPORTS players competing in top-flight tournaments face the equivalent pressure and stress as professional athletes, researchers have revealed.

A study at the University of Chichester examined the psychological challenges encountered by elite esports professionals when competing in major contests, in what is the first investigation of its kind.

Researchers found that esports players faced 51 different stress factors -- including communication problems and concerns with competing in front of live audiences -- mirroring the mental conditions experienced by pro athletes including footballers and rugby stars in high-profile tournaments.

Study co-author Dr. Phil Birch, a senior lecturer in sport and exercise psychology at the University of Chichester, said: "Esports has become a multimillion-pound business attracting audiences worldwide, but there is little research into the psychological factors that influence players.

"We have discovered that gamers are exposed to significant stress when competing in top-flight contests. By isolating these stressors, we can help esports players develop effective coping strategies to deal with such stressors and optimise performance while playing at the highest level."

Poor communication between teammates was identified as a key stressor among players when exposed to pressured environments. To manage the situation, said the research team, players either became overly aggressive to one-another or attempted to avoid communication altogether, which negatively impacted their performance.

The investigation, published in the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, interviewed high-ranking players who compete in the increasingly-popular first-person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Researchers also recommended that top esports players are given psychological training to learn practical coping techniques to help them more effectively prepare for the pressures of competing at elite levels.

Rob Black, the Chief Operating Officer at ESL, the world's leading esports company, said: "As an industry we've known for a long time that stressors on top level players can negatively affect their performance.

"This study proves this and reinforces what we have been saying for years. Further developments are needed in this area, and that will be key in ensuring the number of professional players continues to grow worldwide."

The study builds on the University of Chichester's academic expertise in esports and its newly-launched BA (Hons) esports degree, which examines the impact of gaming through scientific study.

Students on the three-year course learn in an immersive gaming environment at the University's new £35million Tech Park, which was recently opened by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and cover the physical and psychological impact of esports, including nutrition, coaching, and strategy.

Course leader Rams Singh, himself a former esports European champion, said: "esports is a developing area, but it is essential that it remains grounded in traditional academia to help us understand immersive gaming and its impact on mind and body.

"This study is important for the industry. We must understand how we can best support the health of our gamers and keep them performing at the top level -- just as any other professional athlete."

Esports Arena

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Esports Arena targets mid-state expansion, but gamers say gaming scene lags behind

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Monday, Esports Arena announced it would be opening a location in Hendersonville.

The location will be inside a Walmart. The company has partnered with Walmarts across the country for Esports Arena locations that accompany three standalone arenas in Southern California, Oakland and Las Vegas.

At the Hendersonville location, which opens later this month, gamers will be able to play in leagues and tournaments. They can face off with each other or against players at other locations across the country. The company's CEO said he was attracted to the mid-state because of a growing population of younger people and because of Nashville's active social scene.

"I was kind of surprised to see that," David Corrigan said. "Because I don't see a lot of big local tournaments going on all the time."

Corrigan is the organizer of the Grand Ole Gameroom Expo, that runs from Friday to Sunday at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. The event focuses on classic games, but Corrigan said he's seen interest in esports tournaments growing over the expo's four years.

"Last year we had a really good turnout, we had about 180 players for our tournaments," he said.

Still, he said the overall esports scene in the mid-state lagged behind other cities.

"I think we're a little behind, but we're getting some momentum," Corrigan said.

The Hendersonville location is set to open on November 16.

Juked Creates an Easy Way to Watch Your Favorite eSports

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Juked.gg creates an easy way to watch your favorite esports broadcasts

 

Juked.gg is launching an open beta for its platform that makes it easy for fans to watch esports broadcasts for their favorite teams or personalities.

Juked is a guide to the wide world of esports that makes it easy to stay on top of every trending match from popular games and teams, featuring support for over 20 titles. In addition to showcasing content, Juked is designed to provide answers to the most common issues esports fans face on a daily basis.

If you’ve ever missed an epic moment in esports because you didn’t know when to tune in, where to find the broadcast, or why you should care, Juked is for you, according to the pitch from founders Ben “FishStix” Goldhaber and Chris “ChanManV” Chan. I interviewed them about the business at the recent Esports BAR event in Miami.

“We want to create essentially the best way to watch esports,” said Goldhaber. “As much as esports has grown over the last decade, it’s incredibly fragmented and super difficult for any outsider to understand what’s happening. Even if you’re someone like either of us who’s embedded in the community, it’s a pain to stay on top of what’s going on.”

Juked anticipates what fans need to know and puts it in one place. This includes aggregating and indexing every esports broadcasts (live, upcoming, and VOD) and related data (brackets, standings, schedules, results, player profiles, and teams) into one viewing app, so fans can easily stay on top of their favorite games, teams, and players.

The Juked beta also features an industry-wide esports events calendar which allows users to set reminders for when individual matches or tournaments go live. It can be sorted and filtered by favorite games and teams.

The founders started San Francisco-based Juked because they were frustrated by the lack of a good way to follow the biggest leagues, tournaments, and events in esports. Casual fans and hardened insiders alike feel this problem on a daily basis—with dozens of relevant leagues, tournaments, and events happening every single week, staying in the know has become a constant chore. And this problem is only getting worse as new esports games continue to launch every year.

“When you land on our homepage, you’re going to instantly see all of the live streams, all the live events that are happening right now,” Goldhaber said. “It can be filtered by game by team or by your favorite player. So when you’re watching on Juked, you’re also getting all this context that you wouldn’t necessarily see on Twitch, YouTube, or any other platform. You’re going to get the brackets, you’re going to get the standings, you’re getting the player profiles, the team profiles, the prize pool, the schedule.”

Goldhaber was previously the director of content marketing at Twitch, where he worked from 2011 to 2018. His roots in esports began in 1999, and he played first-person shooters competitively for a decade. He then began doing commentary and streaming in 2008, and in 2010 he launched GamesCast.tv, the first aggregator of live esports content.

This project led to him getting hired at Justin.tv as the first full-time gaming employee, just four months before the launch of Twitch. His initial role at Twitch was as a partnership manager interfacing with and managing relationships with the biggest esports leagues and events on the platform, before moving up to his director position. GamesCast.tv was both a precursor to Twitch and Juked.

“The problem that we’re trying to solve is the fact that there is no central resource to stay on top of all of the biggest tournaments from across all the major titles,” Goldhaber said. “So that’s what we’re trying to build.”

Chan’s background includes 15 years of experience in software and product engineering. He was also a top-rated WarCraft 2 and NBA 2K competitive player and created several of the most popular podcasts in esports over the last seven years. This includes Value Town, Unfiltered, and The OverView, the latter of which Goldhaber was a co-host.

Most recently, he was the head of product, marketing, and strategic partnerships at Hearthsim, an esports analytics company which created HSReplay.net, and is the CEO of Visual Core, creator of popular online game show Streamer Showdown.

The company started in March and it has raised $500,000 in funding. It has begun hiring its staff.

Esports games supported on Juked

  • League of Legends
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Dota 2
  • Overwatch
  • Rocket League
  • Smash Bros. Ultimate & Melee
  • StarCraft 2
  • Call of Duty
  • Hearthstone
  • Fortnite
  • Street Fighter V
  • Tekken 7
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • World of WarCraft
  • Rainbow 6: Siege
  • StarCraft: Brood War
  • FIFA
  • Apex Legends
  • Teamfight Tactics
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Quake Champions

Over time, the company will add a premium subscription model.

“First and foremost, we were focused on tackling this problem, which we think is discovery, making it easy to discover the best content in esports,” Goldhaber said. “And we’ll be creating additional features where our pro users can pay extra to access pro features on the site. So that’s primarily what we’re looking at for business model content.”

eSports Tournaments League Of Legend

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How the League of Legends World Championship became the Super Bowl of esports

LOS ANGELES — There is no faster-growing sport than esports, and there is no bigger esports tournament than the League of Legends World Championship.

The run-up to this year’s finals in Paris has already garnered all-time highs in viewership, netting just under 4 million concurrent viewers for the league’s second semifinal match, making it the most watched esports event in history, per Esports Charts. The 2019 final, featuring Europe’s G2 Esports and China’s FunPlus Phoenix, has the potential to eclipse that mark.

As is typical for Worlds, the Nov. 10 event is sold out. It will be preceded by a Friday ceremony at the Eiffel Tower featuring the work of Louis Vuitton and a pre-match performance Sunday featuring world famous musicians. It will be the culmination of a project for which planning began last November. And it is of a size and scale that was inconceivable to those who worked on the original event eight years ago, one held inside a conference hall in Sweden.

Now an international cultural touchstone for hundreds of millions of young people, the idea of hosting a tournament was a matter of debate within the Riot Games less than a decade ago, when it was a nascent company in Los Angeles founded by a couple of college buddies.

“Most people were very skeptical about esports, including a lot of people inside the company,” Riot Games Co-Founder Marc Merrill said in an interview with The Washington Post, recalling that he was met with “chuckles” when he would bring up the idea of competitive play. “That was something I remember very acutely.”

League of Legends, the multiplayer online battle arena game, had been on the market for about two years and had already built a strong community of players around its free-to-play model. However it lacked a full competitive experience until the introduction of ranked play and draft mode in mid-2010. Merrill said there were only a “handful” of people at Riot who believed in the future of competitive play, but that core group quickly expanded as data points began to suggest the company might be sitting on a viewership geyser.

The first major test for their concept came in 2011, at what is considered the first Worlds tournament. The event was hosted by Dreamhack at a convention center in Jönköping, Sweden. Gamers brought their own computers, networked them together and competed in front of thousands of fans. However, it was very much an open question as to whether people would tune in to watch outside the walls of the convention center.

“At the time, League of Legends was a big game but it [was just] another game alongside many other games at these multigame weekend conventions," Riot’s Esports Director Whalen Rozelle said.

The result? Hundreds of thousands watched online.

“We were blown away by the response, by how many people wanted to tune into the action,” said Merrill.

That same year, Justin.tv launched Twitch, a gaming-centric, live-streamed video site that sought to capitalize on the millions of people who were already watching gaming content on their site. [Editor’s note: Twitch is owned by Amazon, whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.] This platform allowed a relatively accessible and convenient way for mass audiences to watch esports without mainstream media buy-in or support.

Finding backing from mainstream outlets proved challenging given the game’s complexities, which some first-time viewers have difficulty deciphering. In League, two teams of five players try to destroy each other’s base. The game features over 140 characters, called champions, each with different abilities. For those who can follow it, the game lends itself to exciting viewing moments. A famous one in Worlds lore was when player Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martinez’s champion, was one hit away from being killed but managed to evade opponents and win the day.

That was also a dynamic the league’s founders experienced early on as the tournament’s expansion produced some potentially devastating growing pains.

Panic and pain

On the strength of what they saw in Sweden, Riot decided to bring competitions in-house, developing the League Championship Series in 2012 and running the league itself. The goal, Merrill said, was to build the architecture to enable League to “be a real sport,” complete with a regular schedule, teams and salaries for players. Salaries for starters in North America now average $350,000.

“We asked ourselves, ‘How would we rethink this?’" said Rozelle, who was hired in 2012 to develop esports for the company and is related to Pete Rozelle, the NFL’s former commissioner. "The core of it was, ‘Okay, we’re fans of sports, we’re fans of video games and we’re fans of esports. What are the best things that we can pull from all three things?'”

Their ideas manifested in the Season 2 Worlds event, the initial rounds of which were held in a courtyard outside the Staples Center, home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and the NHL’s Kings. It drew passionate fans, many of whom came sporting homemade costumes of characters from the game. It was another key moment for Riot, which had created the event from scratch. By all accounts the first matches had gone well. But then, in the middle of a quarterfinals match, the game stalled due to an Internet connectivity issue.

“Your heart sinks so low," Merrill said. "You’re instantly going into the worst case assumptions.”

Merrill recalled a “moment of panic, followed by the pain and knowledge that this is really bad, followed by the motivation to move forward and do the right thing.”

Rozelle, who was in the broadcast truck when it happened, put it more bluntly, “Holy s---, I can’t believe this is happening,” he remembers thinking. “It just breaks your heart.”

Left without any other options, they decided to restart the match. Then the game stalled again. After several hours of trying to resolve it, the technical issue remained. Brandon Beck, who founded Riot alongside Merrill, went out on stage, apologized, and offered those in attendance $25 of in-game currency along with free merchandise and pizza. The crowd erupted in joy.

With their customers satiated, Riot ultimately resolved the technical problem by creating offline servers and adding satellite Internet backup options, which they deployed at the finals, held at Galen Center, home to the University of Southern California’s basketball teams.

“It was us growing up quickly, when it came to live event production and knowing that you can’t rely on your planning to always go well,” said Rozelle.

Merrill said that Season 2′s World Championship was a huge inflection point for the community, which further validated their belief that live esports events could take root and succeed in North America, and beyond.

“It felt like a borderline religious experience, being in that arena,” said Merrill of the finals at the Galen Center, owing to the excitement generated by enthusiastic crowds, orchestral music, and the overall celebration of League.

It also brought a mandate to spend more money.

‘No one is going to do this for us’

By 2013, Riot set its sights higher, taking the event inside the Staples Center, utilizing a seating configuration the building used for concerts. The event sold out in an hour, according to Forbes.

Rozelle said the Staples Center staff was initially confused about the nature of the event, thinking that thousands of people were coming to play video games. It took mutual connections to assuage concerns about Riot’s bona fides and the event they planned to hold, according to Rozelle.

Just as they scaled up their live event, they also worked to professionalize their broadcast product. At the 2013 Worlds, 32 million people watched at least part of the broadcast via Twitch. While those figures are not a one-to-one comparable to TV’s Nielsen ratings, the mass global audience did show how live-streamed esports can stack up favorably against linear programming.

From a production standpoint, Riot found that endemic companies were busy with their own programs and “not so interested” in League, according to Merrill. Traditional sports-related outlets and companies simply did not understand the concept of esports. That made it clear what their next challenge would be.

“We have to go build the expertise and do this ourselves, because no one is going to do this for us, or help solve the problems,” Merrill said.

Riot was able to hire some people with expertise, such as Ariel Horn, who had experience with the NFL and Olympics, but by and large the company relied on itself to determine what a competitive esports league should look like and then develop the know-how to execute their plans.

Traditional outlets have since come around with more than 30 television and digital platforms having aired events in 13 different languages, including ESPN and SYFY.

The move to South Korea for the 2014 final was a natural one for Riot. League’s early success was due in large part to engagement from Korean gamers, who also provided a sense of legitimacy to the esports league in its early days. South Korea is a mecca of esports, where televised tournaments have taken place for more than 15 years.

Signaling how big Worlds had become, it was hosted at the Seoul World Cup Stadium. The headline performer was Imagine Dragons.

In 2015 and 2016, the championship continued its global tour, moving to Berlin and then back to Los Angeles.

A global league with global challenges

Riot has staged these large scale events with a small core team — between six and seven people, all of whom have other responsibilities at the company — throughout the year, according to Adam Mackasek, who has worked on the company’s global events since 2014. The team can expand to around 50 people, between employees and contractors, closer to event dates. Mackasek said planning for Worlds begins the day after the current year’s event ends. Logistics present challenge enough, but those are complicated further by having a global league that features international competitions.

“Geopolitics plays a big role,” Rozelle said. “We have competitors coming from everywhere and one of the challenges is getting people from everywhere to places that they may not have great government affiliations.”

Rozelle said Riot is able to lean on Chinese conglomerate Tencent, which owns Riot Games, for matters concerning the Chinese government, and will find more informal routes to lobby officials in the U.S. “Maybe somebody knows a congressman or a senator and we have to reach out and try to get visas," Rozelle said.

Once players and fans arrive, a different set of challenges arise, as Riot has to find ways to engage with, close to literally, the entire world, informing and entertaining millions with vastly different backgrounds and interests.

“We reach a generation that’s very hard to reach in traditional channels these days,” said John Needham, global head of esports at Riot. “We are the next big sport, the next big wave in sports.”

For the last few years, Riot has tried to push the envelope for its live experience, rivaling events such as the Olympics — and arguably exceeding the World Cup and Super Bowl, with its technological innovation and production value.

In 2017, the World Championship in China saw an augmented reality dragon flying through the stadium and last year’s event in Korea featured an entire augmented reality K-Pop vocal group called K/DA perform alongside its real-world vocalists. The group’s Spotify page shows more than 101 million plays for their song “POP/STARS.”

“We did the [augmented reality] dragon in 2017, and so I was like. ‘Oh how can we push that a little further?'" said Toa Dunn, head of music at Riot. “And I said, ‘Imagine, instead of just a dragon, four members of pop band.' And even that, we had to learn how to do that."

Hundreds of millions of viewers are expected to watch at least part of this year’s World Championship in Paris, in addition to the sold-out crowd at AccorHotels Arena. The spectator experience in France will include a fan village next to the Paris City Hall, complete with player meet-and-greets, demos of pro gaming setups, customized videos, scavenger hunts and a speaker series.

Despite overseeing the most-watched esports event in the world, Merrill said he and his team are still getting used to their role in the culture.

“People have tried to make fun of me constantly,” Merrill said of his love of gaming. “We’re so focused or heads-down in our own little world that we are sort of nervous to go broader. ... Are people still going to be mean to us? And isn’t that cool when that doesn’t happen?”

The increased scope and popularity of the league has also brought new sets of concerns, particularly when current events creep into the picture. Just as the NFL struggled to find the balance between the freedom of its players to protest over the past several years, esports has had to handle a similar incident when a player in the Activision Blizzard-run Hearthstone league, spoke out in support of Hong Kong protesters and was punished. The incident sparked an awkward back and forth between Blizzard and outraged players, some of whom threatened to boycott the company.

“We’re going to try to be as agnostic as possible,” said Needham.

To a degree, the incident will serve as the backdrop to Sunday’s next installment of the World Championship, which will pit European-based G2 against China’s FunPlus Phoenix. It may also serve as a prelude to 2020, when the World Championship will return to China.

“We don’t think about geopolitical realities in any specific area of the world, as much as we just focus on delivering a great experience in game and with our sport," Needham said.

Mobile Advertising Within Esports

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Why All Brands Should Consider Mobile Advertising Within Esports

In this exclusive article for ExchangeWire and TheGamingEconomy, James Anderson (pictured below), business director at Publicis Sport and Entertainment, discusses how mobile esports has evolved from humble beginnings, and why the time is right for advertisers to invest in the medium.

The world’s most popular video game console is sitting in our pockets right now.

All brands should consider tapping into the gaming industry

Research finds mobile gamers tend to be more receptive to advertising compared to non-gamers. Some 43% of mobile gamers say they are more likely to buy or use brands with ads they like, compared to 32% of non-gamers, which creates a massive opportunity for better marketing efficiency and effectiveness for brands.

The big revelation for mobile gaming was that if you remove the barrier to the gaming field, a whole lot more people want to be gamers than you think. That is the value exchange for brands, the predominant form of video within gaming apps is a sort of user-initiated value exchange video.

Mobile gaming offers brands the opportunity to engage with consumers, at scale with data, and to provide positive moments with them. Brands and potential sponsors need to assess the different landscapes which gaming as a vertical has to offer and understand how they can authentically and relevantly enter into this space and add value to the audiences and overall experience to leverage the true value.

Gaming is the future of mobile advertising

Once solely the home of relatively simple, if captivating, games like Fruit Ninja and Paper Toss, mobile games have experienced a revolution in recent years. Growing from a past that began with Snake and Brick Breaker, phones and other mobile devices now feature games with the kind of strategic gameplay once only available on PCs and gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox. And it’s driving eye-popping revenue figures. In 2018, mobile game spending was projected to rise more than 25% and represent the majority of all game spending, totalling about $70bn (£54.1bn) in a $138bn (£106.7bn) market, according to research firm Newzoo.

Such numbers have bolstered hopes for a new growth front in mobile gaming, as the industry recently christened its first esports leagues. Formal esports organisations, which oversee season-long competitions between professional video gamers competing for robust pools of prize money, have usually been the province of blue-chip game titles from major publishing companies catering to consoles and personal computers. But surging audience numbers and the widespread availability and accessibility of mobile devices has made competitive gaming titles for mobile phones and tablets a fertile growth area as esports continues to push into the mainstream.

Regardless of format, esports industry leaders are lined up behind competitive mobile gaming.

“We firmly believe that mobile is the future of competitive gaming,” said Noah Whinston, 23, CEO of Immortals, a top esports organisation.

The belief stems from outsize potential audience numbers driven by the prevalence of mobile devices. Seventy-seven percent of adults in the United States own a smartphone, including 94% of people between 18-29, according to 2018 figures from The Pew Research Center. There were 4.3 billion smartphone subscriptions in 2017, expected to grow to 7.2 billion by 2023, according to last June’s Ericsson Mobility Report.

This ability to reach such a wide swath of people enables Clash Royale and other mobile title-based leagues an opportunity to develop both a massive audience and pull players. The growth in mobile gaming has been powered by the speed of innovation in smartphone tech, resulting in more advanced visuals and gameplay with broad mass market appeal.

Mobile gaming: the advantages and limitation for brands

The International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker forecasts the overall smartphone market to reach 1.646 billion units shipped in 2022, up from 1.465 billion in 2017. This is compared to 82.2 million PlayStation 4 units sold through July since its 2013 release. Microsoft does not release sales figures for Xbox One, but game publisher Electronic Arts stated that the console sold 29.4 million units as of 2017. Nielsen has reported 162 million video game console owners in the US, which equates to about 50% of the population.

Despite the enticing metrics of mobile gaming, some industry observers do not see a rosy future for mobile esports leagues.

Citing the screen size and control scheme as limiting factors, Michael Pachter, a research analyst at Wedbush Securities, is sceptical about the ability for a mobile game to establish itself as a major, organized esport on par with the Overwatch League or the League of Legends Championship Series. “I don’t think mobile ever becomes a big deal,” he said. “If you can watch a movie in Imax or on your phone, which one are you going to do? The best experience is always going to be on a large screen,” said Pachter, who added that mobile game participation will “vastly exceed” that for PC and console games. “There will be games that people want to play, I’m just not sure that we want to watch,” he said, seeing mobile-based strategy games like Clash Royale as being more like curling or chess in that way.

Owing largely to endemic interest and non-legacy media outlets, Clash Royale’s league has been able to generate buzz. A trailer teasing the season kick-off received over 13 million views on YouTube in just the first few days.

These developments, from an esports league to billions of dollars in revenue, would have been hard to imagine during the early days of mobile gaming, which started in the mid-late 1990s, notably with Snake on Nokia phones. The advent of the iPhone brought colourful and engaging games but, like bubble gum, the taste quickly faded, owing to the limited scope of gameplay. But recent titles have solved that problem, particularly as devices get more sophisticated, opening up new possibilities for game makers.

Universal eSports Principles

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Games industry international trade bodies unite on universal esports principles

Set of four principles for engagement agreed upon by representatives of the ESA, ESAC, UKIE, ISFE, and IGEA

Games industry representatives from associations including the ESA, the ESAC, IGEA, ISFE, and UKIE have united on a set of principles for esports engagement, the groups revealed today.

In a joint announcement, the organizations unveiled a set of four principles for promotion of and participation in esports. They are as follows, with explanations as shared by the coalition:

1. Safety and Well-Being

All esports community members deserve to participate in and enjoy esports in safe spaces and to be free from threats and acts of violence and from language or behavior that makes people feel threatened or harassed.

2. Integrity and Fair Play

Cheating, hacking, or otherwise engaging in disreputable, deceitful, or dishonest behavior detracts from the experience of others, unfairly advantages teams and players, and tarnishes the legitimacy of esports.

3. Respect and Diversity

Esports promotes a spirit of healthy competition. Whether in person or online, all members of the esports community should demonstrate respect and courtesy to others, including teammates, opponents, game officials, organizers, and spectators.

Esports is truly global and brings together players from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. We believe the broad and diverse player base of esports contributes to its success. We support an open, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all, no matter one's gender identity, age, ability, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

4. Positive and Enriching Game Play

Esports can help build self-confidence and sportsmanship and boost interpersonal communication and teamwork skills. Esports brings players and fans together to problem solve through strategic play, collaboration, and critical thinking. Participation in esports can also lead to the development of new and lasting friendships among teammates, competitors, and members of the broader esports community.

Additionally, the groups have shared a joint statement on the adoption of these principles:

"Our esports community includes the game publishers and intellectual property owners whose games are at the core of the esports ecosystem as well as the players, teams, and tournament organizers who bring this vibrant community to life," it reads. "As members of this community, we created these guiding principles to foster an esports environment that is vibrant, engaging, fair and fun for everyone. As esports continues to grow, collectively we support an ecosystem of play that can be enjoyed by all members of the community - from international competitions to local community events.

"We believe values of respect, diversity, safety, integrity, and fair play should be the foundation upon which positive and enriching esports communities are built. It is our sincere hope that others in the esports community will join us today in welcoming our universal esports principles and affirming belief in an open and inclusive esports environment."

Newzoo projects that the global esports market will exceed $1 billion in value for the first time ever in 2019.

Warner Bros eSports Series

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Warner Bros. developing two scripted esports shows

Studio Warner Bros. Television is developing two scripted television series based on esports, ordered by CBS and NBC. CBS has put out a pilot order for a comedy seemingly based on Echo Fox founder Rick Fox‘s life, NBC is developing esports comedy ‘The Squad’ with Big Bang Theory actor Johnny Galecki.

The Big Bang Theory-inspired series will be executive produced under Alcide Bava, Galecki’s production company. Anthony Del Broccolo, co-executive producer and writer of Big Bang Theory, will join Galecki along with Holly Brown and Cory Wood of Alcide Bava.

Rick Fox’s autobiographical series “follows a recently retired pro basketball star who attempts to reconnect with his estranged son by buying an eSports franchise,” according to Variety. Fox will executive produce the series and will be joined by Dan Kopelman and Kapital Entertainment’s Aaron Kaplan and Dana Honor.

These series will be the first of their kind as esports-dedicated scripted comedies on major television networks, though it’s not the first time esports has featured on the small screen. HBO’s Ballers recently featured a LCS-inspired arc where Fox himself made a cameo appearance.

Release dates for the pilot episodes are yet to be announced.

Esports Insider says: It’s good to see that Fox is looking to bring even more attention to esports with his own show, especially after recent events. We believe ‘The Squad’ will have a harder time in achieving acceptance from the esports audience but the proof is in the pudding. We’ll have to wait and see if the pilots are picked up by the networks before getting ahead of ourselves.

SKT vs Splyce eSports Event

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SKT vs. Splyce had the highest peak viewership of any esports event

Roughly 2.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the League of Legends World Championship quarterfinals series between SK Telecom T1 and Splyce earlier today, according to ESCharts.

The series toppled the previous League viewership record of the 2017 World finals match between SKT and Samsung Galaxy by about 400,000 viewers. Additionally, it became the most viewed esports event surpassing the Fortnite World Cup 2019 Finals record of 2.3 million in July.

SKT are no stranger to high viewership. This Worlds alone, SKT have already surpassed the 2 million mark twice. Once during their group stage match against Fnatic followed by Royal Never Give Up the next day. Today, the LEC representatives brought SKT to four games, a feat which many fans thought to be a pipe dream. Viewership raised as viewers eagerly watched the underdogs of Splyce attempt to reverse sweep the three-time world champions.

Immediately after Splyce vs. SKT, G2 Esports faced DAMWON Gaming in the last quarter final series this Worlds. This series reached a peak viewership of over 2.1 million and also topped the 2017 Worlds finals by about 16,000 viewers.

Next week, the viewership kings, G2 and SKT, will face each other in the semifinals. SKT alone would bring in millions of League fans, but with G2 beside them we’ll surely see another record smashing series. The series between SKT and G2 will begin Sunday Nov. 3 at 5am CT.

Five Below Video Gaming Space

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A new era of retailing? Here's how Five Below is trying to fend off Amazon

It's sounds pretty unusual, though not outright outlandish. Value-oriented "fun" retailer Five Below is introducing esports game-play at a handful of stores beginning next year. If all goes well, more of the company's 850-plus locations will be adding 3,000-square-feet localhost spaces connected to their stores.

Details of the initiative are still scant, like how Five Below's gaming infrastructure partner, Nerd Street Gamers, will staff, manage, and promote these spaces – particularly if the plan is to schedule regularly occurring esports events. It's also unclear where the densely stocked stores will find space for an esports venue without accessing added retail space.

Still, the company deserves kudos for thinking outside the box. Other retailers would be wise to embrace the same idea and offer their own spin on entertainment, even if just to underscore the point that e-commerce giant Amazon.com can't do the same via the internet.

Welcome to the new era of retailing

"The partnership with (esports gaming network) Nerd Street Gamers is a unique opportunity to engage with an important and growing community of gamers in many of our locations across the country," explained Five Below CEO Joel Anderson when the announcement was made earlier this month. He added, "Gaming is a trend our younger customers are actively enjoying, and working with Nerd Street Gamers will help us to provide an exciting gaming experience that appeals to our core customers and beyond."

Five Below sells a variety of smartly curated goods ranging from toys to electronics to books to home furnishings, and more. Most items cost less than $5, making it easy for its customers to "let go & have fun," in turn making it easier for the retailer to deliver its intended "WOW" that rivals like Dollar Tree and Dollar General somehow can't.

Now its customers will have another reason to step foot in a store where they might make a purchase once they do.

It's not a completely unheard-of idea. GameStopis the sponsor of Complexity Gaming's 11,000-square-foot esports facility. Simon Property Group invested $5 million in Allied Esports in the middle of this year as a precursor to the establishment of competitive video gaming venues at some of its properties. And, if you look closely, several malls that are slowly being vacated by retailers are being repopulated by entertainment offerings like virtual reality experiences.

Other initiatives have been more direct and store-specific. The U.K.'s top-tier department store chain Selfridges operates an indoor skate park at one of its locales. The recently revived Toys R Us brand, which still hasn't reopened any stores of its own, is teaming up with Candytopia to create branded, interactive, candy-themed exhibits. The brand's present owners promise its new stores will be more immersive than its predecessors.

The underlying theme is clear – shoppers are increasingly expecting to be entertained.

Easier said than done

While the broad premise makes sense, creating an engaging experience in a retail space is much easier said than done.

"I think the majority of the stores are really still not that great, honestly," said Foot Locker VP of Global Retail Design Kambiz Hemati, speaking earlier this year about the future of retail in general. He went on to tell Retail Dive, "They've fallen behind and they've become complacent. I think a lot of it has to do because they just don't know what to do."

He's right. Many retailers are on the defensive, yet hesitant to steer away from the formula that worked so well through the 1990s.

The advent of the internet (and mobile internet, in particular) is largely responsible for that shift. Hemati goes on to say, "Before, people would come to the store and that was the first time they experienced whatever products and services that you sold. And now, I think one of the very big differences is, even before they come to the store, they already have done their research."

That leaves retailers in a position where they need to build a relationship with the consumers stepping foot in their stores. It hasn't been stores' strong suit, however, and the older the retailer, seemingly the weaker its ability to do so.

The irony: The younger the consumer, the more open they are to such relationships. A CrowdTwist survey from 2017 found that 57% of the generation Z crowd still prefer to shop in a store as opposed to online. Even more, most of those surveyed are members of at least one retail loyalty program.

A strategy worth mimicking

Five Below isn't breaking brand-new ground here, but it's one of the better efforts thus far to meld entertainment and retail aimed at the same basic crowd. Although in this case, it's as much about combating Family Dollar and Dollar Tree as it is about competing with Amazon and its budding online video gaming platform. For other store chains, the idea could be the last means available of standing up to the e-commerce giant.

If that's going to be the case, however, sooner is better than later. While Amazon's 500 Whole Foods grocery stores and planned conventional grocery store chain pose a threat to the grocery segment, it's hands-on bookstores that promote its own electronics and Amazon Go convenience stores are still nascent efforts. There's time for non-grocer retailers to build a moat against an Amazon incursion, but not a ton of it.

Bottom line? A whole slew of store chains have been on the defensive, but only because they weren't thinking creatively enough about how to use their selling space. Five Below's initiative in rethinking what draws foot traffic into a store may be a lesson some struggling retailers embrace as a means to sidestep the Amazon juggernaut or even a bigger brick-and-mortar rival.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. James Brumley has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon, Five Below, and GameStop. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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