Halo Championship Series sees signs of life
Saudi Arabia’s investment in esports and gaming has caused a backlash. SBJ’s Hunter Cooke interviewed the head of the Saudi Electronic Sports Federation, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, about the kingdom’s plans and the backlash. Well worth your time. -Jason Wilson
Although it’s been a tough year for the Halo Infinite game, the Halo Championship Series has seen some success. Despite some struggles with its quasi-franchise “partnership” decisions, the HCS has rebuilt the once formidable Halo esports ecosystem. He brought open hooks (a staple) back to the Majors while fitting in with some of North America’s most powerful organizations like FaZe Clan and Cloud9.
Tahir “Tashi” Hasandjekic, Hearing Officer for the HCS, tweeted this week that the series had higher viewership for September’s Orlando Major than late April’s Kansas City Major. This is a good indication of growth ahead of November’s Halo World Championship. Additionally, the HCS has just announced that Quadrant, the team owned by F1 driver Lando Norris, is now an official partner of the HCS. Norris’ helmet for all Singapore Grand Prix sessions has been modified to look more like the Master Chief’s.
Halo Infinite struggled as a live service game. It’s sorely lacking in content, and some modes didn’t get specific playlists until late after launch. The absence of Forge, an in-game tool players use to create maps and game modes, remains a glaring omission. Still, Halo Infinite’s core gameplay is the best the franchise has had in quite some time, combining the advanced movement of modern Halo games while staying true to old Halo mechanics. The skeleton of a great multiplayer game is there, even though the HCS is the only thing working right now. — Hunter Cooke
The worlds of gaming and football merged before ‘Sunday Night Football’ when Dr Disrespect, one of the most popular influencers in the streaming space, was part of the pre-game show ‘Football Night in America” from NBC.
Dr. Disrespect, whose real name is Guy Beahm, was featured in a segment breaking down the QB battle between the 49ers and Broncos. While some knew he was a 49ers fan, many wondered how this esports and gaming personality with over 4 million YouTube subscribers managed to make it into the broadcast.
“I was talking to my son about the upcoming 49ers-Broncos game and mentioned that I didn’t have much creativity on the San Francisco side beyond the obvious return of Jimmy Garoppolo,” the coordinating NBC producer said. Sports Vinny Costello at SBJ. “He said, ‘Why not do something with Dr Disrespect?’ I said, ‘who?’ He told me about himself, the character he took on, his strong following in the gaming world, and his connection to the Niners as a Superfan. It seemed like an interesting angle, and (the coordinating producer) Matt Casey and his team agreed we should prosecute him We found out Dr Disrespect was at 49ers training camp this summer, hanging out with the players and even did a skit for his fans while throwing a football 70 yards to George Kittle. The team hooked us up with his manager, and we got him ready for a Saturday morning shoot in Los Angeles, and [it was] on the air for ‘Football Night’ the next day.
Dr. Disrespect is just the latest connection between the NFL and the game, which has included Ninja appearing in an NFL Super Bowl spot and FaZe Clan teaming up with the league for training camp activations. Dr. Disrespect made a name for himself playing games such as Call of Duty and Valorant and now has over 1.2 million followers on Instagram. — Kevin Hitt
Dr Disrespect Instagram
Activision admitted that sales of Call of Duty: Vanguard fell short of expectations, so the video game publisher must be pleased that fans seem excited about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. Activision said its beta test attracted more players, who played for more hours and more matches, than in any Call of Duty beta before launch.
Call of Duty sales remain the cornerstone of Activision’s bottom line, and a good game not only brings in more money, but also more fans for the Call of Duty League. According to Esports Charts, 2022 viewership is up year over year for the finale, but the past two years haven’t beaten 2020’s numbers (when using 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare). And the numbers are still trailing in 2018. A few factors play a role. CDL is still rebuilding viewership after 2020’s (albeit lucrative) number-creating switch to YouTube (fans prefer Twitch for esports).
This means that it can be difficult to gauge the commercial success of a game based on its esports audience. Activision may have also split its traditional playerbase with free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale and Call of Duty Mobile. While these players continue to spend on Battle Passes and other in-game transactions, they aren’t buying a premium game either.
I expect sales to rebound. Fans have a lot of nostalgia for the original Modern Warfare games, and the reboot and return to modern weapons could boost sales over Vanguard’s failed forecast. Modern Warfare II releases October 28. – Jason Wilson
- Saudi government-funded gaming conglomerate Savvy Gaming Group will invest $37.8 billion in gaming as part of a “controversial effort to expand the kingdom’s role in the sector”. Axios notes. Savvy has earmarked over $13 billion to acquire a major game development studio or publisher to become a “strategic partner.”
- Vinnie Viola, owner of the NHL’s Florida Panthers, has acquired the FlyQuest esports organization from Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens. FlyQuest has a coveted spot in the North American League Championship Series (LCS) within League of Legends esports.
- 100 Thieves has signed a partnership with Rock Entertainment Group, cementing ties under Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. 100 Thieves operates numerous competitive esports teams in games such as League of Legends, Apex Legends, and Fortnite and a host of streamers and YouTubers who create entertaining content.
- Enthusiast Gaming Group has sold esports publication Upcomer (along with several other websites) to Sydney-based gaming, esports and entertainment media network Gamurs Group (it owns Dot Esports) for $4.97 million .
- Thorne Health is now Team Liquid’s health and wellness sponsor.
- The Gullit team, which focuses on FIFA esports, has a new sponsorship with Philips OneBlade and will wear the product logo on its jerseys.
- PepsiCo is launching the Mountain Dew Real Change Challenge, an effort to boost black representation in esports and gaming. This includes sponsoring an HBCU esports tournament with a $500,000 prize pool.
- Netflix opens its first in-house game studio, setting up shop in Helsinki (one of the main centers for mobile game development) with former EA and Zynga head Marko Lastikka. As Netflix accelerates, Google retreats, announces the end of its Stadia cloud gaming service.
- Motorsport Games is making five activations during the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs showcasing NASCAR 21: Ignition and the upcoming NASCAR Rivals racing video game simulation.
- Snapdragon Pro Series has announced the second season of the mobile gaming esports competition, with eight games now under its umbrella: PUBG Mobile, Clash of Clans, Wild Rift and Free Fire highlight the roster which also includes Brawl Stars, Asphalt 9: Legends, Clash Royale and Legends of Runeterra. Notable new additions to the game are Wild Rift, Free Fire, and Clash of Clans.