SuperData released a report this week arguing that the video gaming video content business is booming, even “outpacing earnings from some traditional sports leagues.” The whole paper is a mere $2,499 if you want to read it all, but the summary includes everything from Twitch to YouTube and intriguingly suggests that the viewing audience is almost half female.
“Additionally, gaming live streams are replacing primetime TV viewing with 27% of live stream viewers watching most often during weekday evenings. The Gaming Video Content audience on YouTube and Amazon’s Twitch, 517 million and 185 million people in 2016 respectively, surpasses mainstream channels like ESPN and HBO, further shaking up the traditional media landscape.”
E-sports and stream viewers, the analysts claim, “watch more than four hours of content per week,” while almost half of US gaming video content viewers are hooked to “walkthroughs, trailers and humor videos,” meaning that both the casual and hardcore audiences are being served.
Are you among them? That’s what today’s Leaderboard means to find out.
Whether you’re a big fan of the e-sports scene or you would be quite happy never hearing about it ever again, you are no doubt aware that a lot of companies are sinking quite a bit of money into it. It’s not just limited to existing e-sports darlings like League of Legends, either, as Blizzard is very clearly targeting the field with Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch, and it’s pretty obvious that Guild Wars 2 wanted a slice of that pie. But a new piece by Joost van Dreunen, CEO of Superdata, brings up a relevant point that is often getting overlooked: With all of these companies investing in the field, where is actual business model to make money off of e-sports?
Van Dreunen points out that the long-term impact of e-sports, both in terms of viability and engagement, has yet to be understood in anything more than the broadest terms and may in fact be part of a shifting of culture. The current emphasis on a very narrow appeal isn’t helping drive long-term engagement, and it raises questions about whether the long-term goal of e-sports is to serve as a business model unto itself or if the goal is basically to use these events as an advertisement for the games in question. It’s well worth reading even if you’re not a fan of the field, as it brings up some interesting points about where the idea of competitive video games will go in the next few years.
Remember last week when SuperData published a report on virtual reality, predicting a “steep rise” in VR adoption as we roll toward 2020? Competing analysis firm Newzoo is a bit more reserved and focuses more on the existing market rather than the future one. In its recent blog piece, it points to mobile VR being the current arena of growth opportunity, echoing SuperData’s point that the Samsung Gear has outsold everything else and dangling the idea that an Apple VR system might disrupt the market and bring in wider adoption.
“There are several factors that will contribute to the mass adoption of mobile VR, including improvement in the quality of the VR experience offered by relatively affordable mobile VR devices such as Google Cardboard, overcoming compatibility issues, and a boost in content that caters to people’s great variety of interests,” Newzoo says. “Additionally, the business model needs to be a good match. An example of this, coming from sports, that could potentially spark the mass market breakthrough for VR: the NBA wraps up its live VR experience in their subscription model. Not offering a single purchase option is a missed opportunity and limits uptake. Another factor at play is the fact that many people have their first VR experience with someone else’s device. The need to own a personal headset is not yet big enough to justify the purchase. ”
Earlier this month, we covered SuperData’s report on the state of gambling practices in digital games, in which one of the analysis firm’s claims was that Valve’s ordeal last year — whereby government regulatory boards investigated the company’s level of complicity in illegal gambling of Dota skins — have put a chill on other studios considering similar arrangements, to say nothing of the CS:GO legal drama. “No other company wants to be next,” SuperData said.
But apparently there’s one company: Wargaming. The studio’s Head of Global Competitive Gaming, Mohamed Fadl, told Gamespot that betting in gaming could become “one of the major incomes for esports or streaming platforms.”
“You’re stupid to say betting is bad,” Fadl reportedly said. “It’s a natural part of sports.”
SuperData was rather famously quoted all throughout the industry at the end of 2016 following its research-backed proclamation that virtual reality was the “biggest loser” of the holiday gaming sales season. But this week, the company has issued an infographic suggesting that VR is now “on the rise” and its best days are ahead of it.
Last November, the research firm adjusted its original estimates for VR sales after both Sony and Google saw significantly fewer than anticipated VR headsets sold to consumers. However, SuperData explained at the time that headsets were suffering from “supply inconsistencies,” poor sales tactics during the holidays, and the absence of high-demand games and apps to drive sales — none of which was irreversible.
The new infographic anticipates a “steep rise” in VR adoption over the next few years, though it’ll be one still vastly overshadowed by the use of TV, phones, and PCs. While SuperData suggests most of the profits are in the devices themselves right now, it predicts that by 2020, revenue from VR will near $40B US and eventually be more evenly distributed over hardware and software.
Gambling in video games has been a huge topic for devoted MMORPG players over the last year or so, as core MMOs like Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Elder Scrolls Online have added or tweaked lockboxes, Path of Exile has raised the bar on lockbox transparency, Valve has been hassled by regulatory bodies for enabling underage gambling, and countries have considered classifying certain MMO practices as gambling for the purposes of regulation.
But it’s probably worth remembering that there is a very real and legitimized online gambling gaming industry out there competing for your dollars (in fact, some of them occasionally pop up in our remnant ads, depending on where you live, and we have to get out the mallet).
It’s all explained in a new report the analysts at SuperData prepared for the Dutch government as an overview of gambling practices in digital games, from the “social casinos” of Zynga and trading card games to e-sports bets and in-game item wagering.
I sure hope you’re not tired of CCP Games talking about VR because CCP can’t stop won’t stop.
The video game studio known best for EVE Online has been laser-focused on the VR space for the last few years now, launching Gunjack, Gunjack 2, and EVE Valkyrie for VR and just last month announcing VR sports sim Sparc.
Today, CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson features in a new interview on GamesIndustry.biz, where he basically talks up how well VR is doing. When interviewer James Brightman suggests that only about two million high-end VR devices have sold — numbers that the analysts at SuperData said made VR the “biggest loser” of the holiday gaming sales season — Pétursson argues that two million is actually a much bigger deal that it seems to be by putting the number into national perspective.
Earlier this week, we reported on a SuperData revenue ranking report that showed World of Tanks pulling in more cash than World of Warcraft’s western division. At some point after that piece ran, as The Ancient Gaming Noob noticed, SuperData revised its chart and merged WoW East and WoW West back together again, putting it ahead of World of Tanks in the aggregate.
Now, I don’t really have a problem with this; that’s how it should be since none of the other games was ever split by region that way, as we’ve been arguing since February. But clearly someone — SuperData? Blizzard? — cared enough about WoW being #4 and not #5 to change it after publication.
But I wondered whether any players actually care. I suspect most of us care only that it’s successful enough to keep online first and keep the entertaining content coming second; whether it appears in a top 10 revenue chart on some analyst’s site isn’t going to be of much interest to regular players, except when they’re busy throwing shade on some other game, of course.
How much do you really care if your MMORPG is super successful?
Happy SuperData day! That’s the monthly holiday when we pore over the market analysis report, freak out over something doing well, freak over something doing poorly, and then fight over definitions, the evils of trusting paywalled science, and why more MMOs aren’t on the current list. This round, there’s lots to bicker over — but also some bits to celebrate in the February 2017 charts of top-grossing game titles.
On PC, while League of Legends, Crossfire, and Dungeon Fighter Online continue their top-three dominance, the rest of the roster has seen a bit of a shake-up, as Overwatch has fallen from #4 to #6 and World of Tanks has pushed past it as well as World of Warcraft. WoW’s status is a tad confusing; last month, SuperData began reporting Western and Eastern WoW separately, even though it does not appear to be doing that for any other game. This month, it’s omitted the West/East tags but still has two entries for WoW, so we’re left to assume to top one is still West as it was last month.
On console, ARK: Survival Evolved has fallen from its #4 spot to #6. As always, we point out that ARK: Survival Evolved has yet to formally launch, and it’s absurd that it’s on this list at all, but fools and their money and all that.
When it comes to financial reports, there’s always one word that every investor wants to see: growth. And for those that read Perfect World’s 2016 annual report, that’s exactly what they saw.
The international publisher, which operates titles as diverse as Dota 2 (in China) and Star Trek Online as well as other media properties, reported that it had a very good year, raking in 6.1 billion yuan over the course of 2016. Its gaming division was responsible for over two-thirds of this revenue and an impressive 25% growth compared to 2015.
What’s interesting here is that while PC game sales remained relatively stable and flat, it was the mobile market that was the driving force behind this increase in Perfect World’s income. This means that we can expect to see the company put an even higher priority on developing and publishing mobile titles in the future.
Overwatch is probably not coming to the Nintendo Switch, or so suggests Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan. He told Reddit last night that while he loves the platform, getting Overwatch Switch-ready would be “very challenging,” but the studio is “always open minded about exploring possible platforms.”
That’s a bummer for fans of the Switch, which in its first week sold 1.5 million units, a third of which in the US. SuperData attributes the platform’s performance almost entirely to Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
In happier news for Overwatch, Blizzard has a new behind-the-scenes out for upcoming hero Orisa, which we’ve tucked down below.
The latest Superdata Research report is in for the month of January 2017, and in addition to an increase of 9.8% of digital game sales, several online titles are sitting comfortably in the top 10.
One notable entry is the rise of ARK: Survival Evolved in the console chart to the number four spot. “Launching on PS4 in December, the game is an unusual standout on the AAA-publisher-heavy top 10 console list,” the report noted. “In January, the game continued a rise as it becomes popular on the latest generation of platforms and took the number 4 slot, ahead of titles like Battlefield 1.”
League of Legends, Dungeon Fighter Online, Overwatch, Lineage, Destiny, and Pokemon Go all made expected showings. World of Warcraft is also on the list, but twice, as the game’s sales are being split between “west” and “east.” That seem a little unfair to anyone else? You can check out the full chart after the break.
What the heck is Crossfire? It’s a game that makes quite a bit of money, according to SuperData; we’re talking in the “massive numbers at the top of the list” category here. And yet it hasn’t really gained much traction in the west for whatever reason, as evidenced by the fact that this piece could open off with “what the heck is Crossfire” and most of our readers were probably nodding. So the fact that Smilegate is opening a European branch to help push the brand should say something.
Smilegate Europe’s biggest push will be getting Crossfire accepted as an eSports venue, although it’s probably facing an uphill battle against existing Western favorites such as Overwatch. Still, more games is a good thing, isn’t it? Time will tell if this push finally breaks open the western market for the title or ultimately fails to make a dent.