Beyond the Summit successfully hosts CS Summit
This past weekend, Beyond the Summit (BTS) hosted its first ever CS:GO event (the CS Summit), which received raving reviews from the community. BTS has organized esports competitions since 2012, primarily focusing on Dota 2 and Super Smash Bros. While BTS events include a typical tournament format, they utilize a laid-back and humerous style. Casters and analysts hang out on a couch instead of standing at a desk, players and other community figures sub in to cast games, and comedic shoulder content is a regular part of the broadcast. For reference, here is the intro video used for this weekend’s event: https://clips.twitch.tv/BoldBadShieldVoHiYo.
BTS events are truly unique to esports. They embrace memes, poke fun at competitors and other community figures, and offer a genuine glimpse at the behind-the-scenes inner workings of the esports ecosystem being featured. These events are more than just a welcome break from the regular schedule of purely serious competitions—they are at the heart of what makes esports different from their traditional sports counterparts.
Esports grew up in a digital age, where stars interact with their fans more regularly and authentically. When I attended the CS:GO major in Atlanta with one of Catalyst’s basketball agents, he was shocked to find a line of fans waiting to get autographs from Olofmeister, who was in the crowd watching the finals along with everyone else. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen in basketball, or other traditional sports for that matter.
Yet as we become more mainstream, it would be easy to shy away from these origins. Esports celebrities will eventually become mega-stars. They won’t just be recognized at gaming events; they’ll be recognized everywhere. They’ll also start to earn levels of income that naturally segregate them from their fan bases. Bodyguards, high-roller life styles, paparazzi, and more… it’s a question of when, not if at this point.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I’m certainly not saying we should stay the same forever. As esports continues to grow, some distancing between esports stars and their fans is inevitable. That being said, the CS Summit was as much fun watching Counter-Strike as I can remember having. So while I’m thrilled to see efforts like ELEAGUE raise the bar in broadcast quality and professional treatment of talent, I’m equally excited that BTS was able to expand into CS:GO. We shouldn’t be afraid to grow and develop. But we also shouldn’t change so much that we lose sight of what makes esports special. BTS is a perfect representation of this spirit. I hope it never goes away.
Twitch launches premium $9.99/month and $24.99/month subscription plans
In addition to their current $4.99/month subscription offering, Twitch is also launching a $9.99/month and a $24.99/month for viewers that, in addition to ad-free viewing, will unlock various rewards including:
• Special Emotes (chat emojis)
• The ability to send a custom message to the community upon first subscribing
• Help a Partner unlock new emotes faster, as $9.99 subs are worth two subscriber counts and $24.99 subs are worth six subscriber counts
Twitch hasn’t publicly released any official usage statistics for their $4.99 sub package but it is generally well-regarded in the community although ad blockers are still seen as one of the best ways to avoid ads on Twitch. Regardless, Twitch decided to release two even higher priced sub packages.
I believe this move was done to appease Twitch partners and content creators and help offer additional revenue streams to make streaming a more financially stable endeavor. While the majority of users won’t pay $9.99 or $24.99 a month, there are some users who will for the status and unique experience. It is smart for Twitch to diversify their price points and product offering to reach different audiences with varying budgets.
Additionally, Twitch is hoping these more expensive subscriber packages will help increase sub counts since a $9.99 subscriber is worth two subscribers and will give creators access to more emotes (number of emotes are awarded based on number of subs). Emotes are one of the most popular features on Twitch as they are constantly used within chat and often represent inside jokes within a community. Furthermore, the increased competition from Facebook and YouTube for streaming content has forced Twitch to offer more revenue streams and a better product than their larger competitors in order to keep streamers on their network. Expect Twitch to continue to work to appease their content creators to counteract the deep pockets of Facebook and YouTube.
Esports Nendoroid merchandise Growth
Two time world champion LoL player, Bang, recently confirmed the release of a nendoroid figure of LoL champion, Ezreal, on his Twitter. The tweet states that the figure should be releasing at the end of April. This will be Riot’s first globally available nendoroid figure.
The figure merchandise market has immense potential for games with iconic characters such as League of Legends. Although Good Smile Company, the producer of nendoroids, did make a figure of Ahri, it was only available at the 2014 World Championships in Korea. Blizzard has already announced that the entire cast of Overwatch will have nendoroids made and Valve has their third DotA2 character figure being released in August.
It will be interesting to see if Riot decides to release more characters in order to compete with the other esports. The nendoroid brand is well known throughout Japan and popular globally among fans of Japanese animations. Figure producers such as Funko Pop! and Figma also have merchandise from LoL, Overwatch, and DotA2. Although Riot has created their own line of ‘chibi’ style figures, I think that making merchandise with an established brand such as Good Smile will be largely profitable. Currently the Riot made figures are only available on Riot’s online store or at Riot events such as LCS. Making products with other companies will allow for sale at comic, anime, and gaming conventions around the world and appeal to a much broader audience.