AFK Weekly: Rainbow Six Siege to Debut on Mobile Devices
We would like to believe that the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, that happy days are here again, and we can all return to a state of normalcy, but the current situation in Shanghai illustrates in painstaking detail that COVID-19 isn't going anywhere. The city of Shanghai–home to some of the biggest esports companies and teams and China's largest financial hub–is currently under government lockdown, with reports indicating that basic human needs such as food and medicine are not being met for the city's roughly 26M+ residents. In March there were 103,965 reported cases in the city.
Being that esports is a global business, Shanghai's current situation affects the international events calendar; the League of Legends Pro League Spring Split playoffs and the Chinese Dota 2 Pro Circuit have been delayed with the former likely to be played out remotely, according to an announcement by league operator TJ Sports. Further there's a good chance that teams within the LPL–China's official League of Legends league-- will not be able to participate in the upcoming Mid-Season Invitational.
But COVID-19 is not only on the rise in China--After plateauing for a while, New York City has seen a 60% rise in infections, while Washington D.C. has seen cases double. COVID-19 infections are also on the rise in states such as Alaska, Vermont, Colorado, Rhode Island, and New York, according to a New York Times report.
Which is to say, be prepared for some adverse effects to hit live events and competitions as local, state, and federal governments put restrictions in place to quell the latest variant of this virus that just won't seem to go away.
Rainbow Six Siege Mobile to bring Siege to iOS and Android devices
Ubisoft has announced the development of Rainbow Six Mobile, a new title which will introduce the popular Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege franchise to iOS and Android devices. According to the announcement, the new title will be a “competitive and tactical FPS game with two teams of 5 — Attackers and Defenders,” much like its PC and console counterparts. The game has been in development for over the last three years.
However, there are also a few changes to adapt the game for mobile devices. Rainbow Six Mobile will feature best-of-three matches as compared to the PC and console versions that usually last for four to nine rounds. The HUD has also been adjusted to make it compatible for mobile devices. Additionally, it appears that at launch there will be fewer maps and operators in the mobile version.
Ubisoft did not reveal an exact release date or timeline for Rainbow Six Mobile, but it intends to begin testing the game in the coming weeks with a limited number of players.
Key Takeaway: Rainbow Six Siege is the unquestioned Cinderella story of esports. The game rose up from a lackluster launch to firmly establish a space in the second tier of the industry. With Valorant also moving to mobile, tactical shooters are going to have a strong future on mobile platforms.
Complexity partners with Lenovo with multi-year deal
Complexity Gaming has signed a multi-year partnership with PC manufacturer Lenovo with the company becoming the exclusive “desktop and laptop PC and monitor provider” of the esports organization. As part of the deal, Complexity’s headquarters located in Texas (formerly the GameStop Performance Center) will now be renamed as the “Lenovo Legion Esports Center.” The PC manufacturer’s branding will also be featured on Complexity’s jerseys.
According to the release, the companies will also collaborate on inclusivity initiatives around education-based events focused on topics such as diversity and web safety to “foster a more accepting and supportive gaming community.” Lenovo will also support the esports organization’s pursuit to enhance player performance and improve the industry standard for player care.
Key Takeaway: Gamestop made a major push into U.S. esports several years ago, sponsoring multiple esports teams and attempting to establish some stores as competitive gaming experience locations. As with most of the company’s approach in the modern games industry, the tactic seems to have yielded limited results, leading Complexity to find a new title partner for its facility.
Gaming management firm Loaded raises $20M
Gaming-focused talent management firm Loaded–which represents several high-profile streamers and content creators–announced it has raised $20M to enable it to expand its talent roster and services. The company has also announced the elevation of former COO Josh Swartz as the new CEO and Bridget Davidson as the president of its Talent division.
Enthusiast Gaming’s financial results for 2021 revealed
Enthusiast Gaming Holdings, the company behind Vancouver Titans (Overwatch League), Seattle Surge (Call of Duty League), and Luminosity Gaming, has disclosed its earnings for 2021. The company reported an annual revenue of $167.4M, a gross profit of $37.8M, and annual direct sales of $22.2M for 2021. The Toronto-based esports company also reported a loss of $10.2M in its fourth quarter.
Populous' spherical music/esports venue to be built in London
Architectural firm Populous has gained planning approval for MSG Sphere, which will become London's largest indoor venue once completed. The 90-metre-high (roughly 295 feet) spherical music venue will have a capacity of 21.5K with 17.5K seated. “The MSG Sphere London is a natural fit for events such as esports, where audiences will be able to participate in the competition and interact with each other," according to a release.
Tencent to shut down video game streaming platform Penguin Esports
Tencent has announced that it is shutting down its video game streaming platform Penguin Esports, citing a change in business strategy. In July 2021, China's market regulators blocked Tencent’s plans to merge Huya and DouYu, two of the region’s top streaming sites.
Chinese League of Legends Pro receives lifetime ban for match fixing
Chinese League of Legends player Chen “Jay” Bo of LGD Gaming has received a lifetime ban from all Riot and Tencent competitions for match-fixing. Additionally, the player is also barred from streaming League of Legends on all platforms. In April 2021, 38 League of Legends pro players were banned or suspended for engaging in match-fixing activities.
Galaxy Racer announces esports league in Pakistan
Galaxy Racer has announced the Supreme Galactic League which has been dubbed Pakistan’s first-ever professional esports league. The league will feature “eight professional esports teams from across the country as well as other renowned names” competing in it, according to a release.
Getty Images expands partnership with Riot Games
As part of its multi-year renewal and expansion of its partnership with Riot Games, Getty Images has added Valorant and Wild Rift to its portfolio. The company will serve as the official photo image and distribution partner for global events for the two titles in addition to League of Legends.
Activision Blizzard gives 1,100 QA testers full-time jobs
Beginning July 1, all of Activision Blizzard's temporary and contract quality assurance workers in the US will become full-time employees with many of these workers receiving a pay raise. However, these pay increases for QA employees will reportedly not apply to workers trying to unionize at Raven Software.
Riot Games asks employees to return to LA Headquarters without mask or vaccine mandates
Riot Games has asked its employees to return to the Los Angeles headquarters without having any mask or vaccine requirements in place. The decision has led to fear among employees with some even reportedly resigning from the company over this decision.
Nodwin partners with Gameloft for racing tournaments in India
Indian esports tournament organizer Nodwin Gaming has signed a partnership with Asphalt 8: Airborne and Asphalt 9: Legends publisher Gameloft, to execute esports events for the two titles in the country.
T1’s Faker was allegedly offered $20M per year to compete in China
On the April 6th episode of the Trash Talk with Doublelift podcast, T1 CEO Joe Marsh revealed that Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok received a $20M dollar a year offer from China when he was a free agent.
People on the Move
It’s been an interesting week for promotions and new hires within the gaming and esports industries, but of personal interest to this writer is Brandon Brathwaite (a former TEO contributor and all-around nice guy) taking the reins of Full Squad Gaming; and Sterling McGarvey, who in another lifetime wrote form EGM and GameSpy, taking on a new role at Hit Detection. Congrats to both of them. With that said, here are this week’s movers and shakers:
Ashley Wise joins Riot Games as its new influencer manager.
Josh Swartz is promoted from COO to CEO of Loaded following a $20M funding round.
Bridget Davidson is promoted to the role of president of talent at Loaded.
Brittany Castrataro joins eFuse as a senior partnerships manager.
Dominic Petrozzi also joins eFuse as a senior partnerships manager.
James Deasey leaves his role as talent manager of RESPAWN Products for a new adventure–to be announced.
Paul Murphy exits SteelSeries to become director of NFT marketing at Warner Media.
Sterling McGarvey has been promoted to the role of head of consulting at Hit Detection.
Brian Shanahan has been promoted to the role of associate director of digital marketing for Call of Duty at Activision.
Andy Kim has left his role at Blizzard to join Gearbox Entertainment as a senior designer.
Brandon Brathwaite becomes the new managing editor of Full Squad Gaming.
Nicole Musicco resigned from the Enthusiast Gaming board of directors after being appointed to the role of chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System.
Gareth Evans has been promoted to the role of territory director - MENA & Turkey at Ubisoft.
THX LTD. has named Jason Fiber as its new CEO, taking over the role from Min-Liang Tan (who is better known as the long-time CEO of Razer).
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