AFK Weekly: BGMI Debuts ‘Game Responsibly’ Campaign
Week 5, December 2021
Hello everyone! Valorant Champions 2021, Riot Games’ marquee FPS esports tournament, finally debuted this week and at its peak, attracted over 690K concurrent viewers with its first match. Riot’s strategy of collaborating with popular streamers such as Shroud and Ludwig for watch parties has largely proven to be a success, and has definitely given its viewership a boost. It will be interesting to see if this could be enough for it to surpass the record-setting viewership numbers of CS:GO’s PGL Stockholm Major 2021.
Here’s a breakdown of this week’s most important esports business news and more in the latest edition of Esports Business Insights by AFK Gaming.
- Vignesh Raghuram, Supervising Editor, AFK Gaming
People on the move
There were a number of key executive promotions and hires in the esports industry worth noting this week: Christian Bishop announced via social media that he has joined the Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch as its new director of Twitch properties. In this role, he'll help the company monetize its first-party properties and events such as Twitch Rivals, TwitchCon, and Twitch Gaming. Prior to joining Twitch, Bishop served as the chief revenue officer at Method. Skye Bui also announced that she has joined Twitch, though she quietly made the move to the company last month. She will take on the role of strategic account manager. Bui has served in executive roles at such companies as OGN, TSM, and Echo Fox.
Josh "Caru" Glodoveza was hired as vice president of talent at the e-commerce company Fanjoy. Glodoveza, who was representing content creators independently following stints at talent management firm Ader and esports organizations Gen.G Esports and Sentinels, will help the company to build out its roster of gaming and esports talent that it represents and find new ways to bring sponsorships and partnerships to clients.
Jessica Gonzalez, who helped organize walkouts and other inititaives to stamp out sexual miscondduct, harrasment, and gender-based discrimation at Activision Blizzard under the "ABetterABK" banner, has left the company. In a statement posted on social media Gonzalez had a message for embattled CEO Bobby Kotick: "Your inaction and refusal to take accountability is driving out great talent and the products will suffer until you are removed from your position as CEO."
Team Liquid has hired Paige Bonomi as a global partnership sales manager. Bonomi joined the company this week from SPORTFIVE where she served in an executive business development role focusing on the company's esports business. Prior to that she worked for ESL Gaming and PR firm JSA Strategies.
Riot Games has promoted Ali Miller to senior manager, global influencer marketing. In her announcement, Miller revealed that the company is "building out a team of experienced global strategists across Action, Strategy and MOBA categories." Miller is a marketing veteran who joined Riot in October 2019. Prior to joining the company, she spent more than seven years at Activision Blizzard.
Finally, Nabil Pervez has been promoted to chief technology officer at Dallas-based marketing agency AOE Creative. Pervez joined the company in November 2018 from Infinite Esports & Entertainment, which was acquired by Immortals Gaming Club in 2019.
Key Takeaway: Twitch’s hiring moves highlight the company’s subtle strategy shift. The platform is focusing less on retaining its most popular creators and instead pivoting to producing more original content such as Twitch Rivals. In its early days, Twitch was able to corner the market on esports, and now looks to do the same once more but for more casual-friendly content.
Battlegrounds Mobile India debuts new ‘Game Responsibly’ campaign
Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) introduced a new campaign that is aimed at encouraging players to care for their mental and physical health. 'Game Responsibly' is targeted at addressing the problem of video game addiction and to teach players how they can cultivate safer and healthier gaming habits. BGMI also accompanied the launch of the campaign with a video that highlights the problems of continuous gaming.
The campaign also highlights various in-game features in BGMI for ‘safe gaming’ including:
A virtual world warning message
OTP wall to ensure parents' consent to play the game
Gameplay limits of 3 hours per day for under-18 players
A daily spend limit of INR 7K ($93.16 USD)
Reduced violence, nudity, and bloodshed
These restrictions are very similar to the ones Tencent imposed in Peacekeeper Elite (PUBG Mobile’s clone) in China following the government’s crackdown on video game addiction in minors. Currently, minors in China are restricted to 1.5 hours per day of game time on weekdays and 3 hours per day during weekends and holidays. Additionally, there are various spend limits also imposed, with under-18 players being capped at a RMB 400 ($62.78) spend limit.
This campaign begins at a rather crucial time for BGMI. In 2021, two Indian state governments (Delhi and Rajasthan) issued advisories detailing the problems of online game addiction. In July 2021, the Delhi High Court also directed the Central Government to decide a representation to form a policy for the protection of children from online and offline games.
Key Takeaway: While many in the gaming industry tend to dismiss concerns about gaming addiction as little more than the latest video game-related moral panic, experts like Dr. Alok Kanojia - a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who regularly streams on Twitch discussing video game addiction - have raised legitimate concerns on the topic. The simple reality is that as gaming continues to overwhelm all other entertainment industries, regulations both in-game and out will become more and more standard as mental health experts come to understand more about the effects of gaming on children.
Quick Shots Segment
G2 expands its product offerings to China
European esports organization G2 esports has begun exporting its consumer products to China. According to a release, G2’s product offerings for the Chinese market will include its Samurai and Bold collection, Pro Kit 2021, G2 X Adidas, accessories, and hardware. Additionally, it will also launch an official Chinese G2 jersey in this month exclusively for the Chinese market.
Free Fire Asia Championship peaks at over 1M viewers
The Free Fire Asia Championship 2021 became the third most watched Free Fire tournament in 2021 with a peak viewership of 1.08M, according to Esports Charts. The tournament also managed to draw in an average viewership of 357K and 3.98M total hours watched.
CS:GO star S1mple added as new RAID Shadow Legends character
NAVI CS:GO star Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev has been added as a new playable character in RAID: Shadow Legends. This new collaboration is part of a larger collaboration between RAID: Shadow Legends and NAVI, which began back in January 2021, which saw the mobile games’ logo being added to NAVI jerseys.
Pressure continues to mount for Activision Blizzard, CEO Bobby Kotick
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), a right-wing organization and a Coca-Cola shareholder, has sent a letter to Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincey demanding that the company remove Activision CEO Bobby Kotick from its board of directors. The NLPC cited allegations of widespread sexual misconduct and discrimination at the company under his leadership. On a related note, six state treasurers in the U.S. are asking the company’s board to have a call to discuss its “response to the challenges and investment risk exposures that face Activision,” according to an Axios report.
Fnatic Team Director for SEA steps down from his role
Eric "ReiNNNN" Khor, Fnatic’s team manager and director for Southeast Asia has stepped down from his position after six years with the organization. “With six consecutive TI appearances and countless other LANs, Eric's dedication, guidance and vision shaped what Fnatic has become in SEA,” said Fnatic’s statement announcing his departure. He will be replaced as Team Director by Paolo "KTM" Gonzales Bago who was previously the Dota 2 team’s performance coach.
Aimlab expands partnership with Valorant Champions Tour, becomes official training partner
Aim Lab, a performance and training platform for FPS players, has expanded its partnership with Riot Games to include the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) for Latin America and Europe, as well as the series' global events, in addition to its previous deal which saw it cover the North American region. According to the release, Aim Lab will be releasing new items targeted at Valorant fans as a result of the expansion.
On the Horizon
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB)’s M3 World Championship which is scheduled to take place from 6th Dec. is the title's biggest tournament yet, featuring $800K in prize money (over double the prize money of the previous edition) and includes teams from North America, Middle East, and Turkey for the first time ever. With the expansion in the number of regions and the general trend of the rising viewership numbers of its regional leagues, the M3 World Championship is expected to break viewership records.
This weekend will also see the continuation of Valorant’s first-ever world championship event. Valorant Champions kicked off earlier this week and will conclude on Dec. 12, crowning the game’s first official champion and establishing its early regional hierarchy.
Finally, the fighting game community will have its first large-scale reunion since the pandemic in Orlando Florida at CEO. The event brings together numerous fighting game communities from Street Fighter to Smash Bros, effectively kicking off the new era for fighting games after more than a year of struggling through poor online and limited developer support.
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