Level 46: Valorant is Here

This week we take a deep dive into Riot's new FPS, talk about livestreaming's COVID-fueled success, and more.

📜 This Week’s Most Important News

Riot Games is Back on Top: This week in games has been all about Valorant, Riot’s new hero-based tactical shooter. Without spending a single dime on influencer marketing, Riot managed to have one of the most successful beta launches in recent history, taking the streaming and PC gaming world by storm. Here are a few of the many widespread impacts from the games launch:

  • Twitch Levels Up: Twitch broke its record for concurrent viewers (previously at 3.99M), thanks in large to the spike in players checking out Valorant. The game peaked at 1.7M viewers, surpassing Fortnite, and only following behind Riot’s other game, League of Legends by a small margin Link

  • Building the Walled Garden: Part of why Riot was so successful in this launch lies in how they distributed closed beta access, namely to content creators. Riot has spent the last few months hyping the game, drawing comparisons to other top esports. In turn, they had the platform's biggest creators looking to get involved on Day 1. Even better, viewers of those creators tuned in for a chance to win exclusive access to game, only available by watching on Twitch Link

  • People are still talking: The amount of content coming out around Valorant is crazy. Top streamers, orgs, even ESPN are putting together as much content as they can find in an attempt to capture market share and consumer attention early. Their hopes don't seem to be misguided, Riot has shown they know how to do esports, and it's tough to think they don't find a way to make this one a success too Link

We’ll keep covering the game as more comes out, and see if we can’t get our hands on one of those elusive beta keys too. In the meantime, stay tuned for more info on this one.

💡 Industry Content

The Economics of Lifestyle Streaming: Before Twitch was all about gaming content, it was known as Justin.tv, consisting solely of a 24/7 livestream of company founder Justin Kan. IRL streaming has been in the platform’s DNA since its inception, and now makes up a large portion of the most popular creators on the platform. This week Andreeseen Horowitz’s gaming guru, John Lai, took a deep into the economy of these creators, known as lifestyle streamers. Most interestingly Lai points out that viewers who prefer these creators care more about the person than what they are doing. This leads to more opportunities for monetization and better retention of viewers as a whole. Maybe Justin Kan and company were onto something all those years ago? Link

E3 is cancelled...for real this time: Since its cancellation, rumors have been circulating that E3 may cobble together some sort of online experience for consumers. Turns out that was false. Classic E3. Link

🎮 Fun & Games

The Playstation 5, Now with More Senses: This week Sony released their first look at the new DualSense controller, the primary way to play with the upcoming Playstation 5. When you take a look under the hood, the controller packs some much needed improvements: a built in microphone, haptic feedback, and repurposed sharing functionality to name a few. Link

Stadia is Free (for a bit): This week Google announced that they're launching a two month free trial for their gaming platform, Stadia. Until this point, it feels like adoption of the product has been lukewarm at best. From our POV, it’s not the cost that’s making that the case, rather it seems as though Google has struggled to deliver on content. To that point, there aren’t any games that are exclusive and better because they're on Stadia. That being said, free is free, give it a look and let us know if you see something that would change our minds! Link

Inside Xbox - A Roundup: Earlier this week Xbox highlighted a few upcoming titles in one of their direct to consumer “Inside Xbox” events. The best bits were around the upcoming gaming cloud platform xCloud. Here’s a quick round up to get you up to speed. Link

😎 Other Cool Stuff

Twitch Streamer - the World’s First Pandemic-Proof Job: With most live sports on hiatus, live streamers have been seeing unprecedented spikes on all fronts. It makes sense, given that we’re all stuck inside all day, that people are turning to platforms like Twitch and Mixer to get their fix of content. New York Times sat down with popular Twitch creator, Dr. Lupo, to talk shop on how his content creation has seen a huge jump in light of the COVID-19 shelter-in place mandates. Link

Merch Drops...In Animal Crossing: Fashion-focused esports org, 100 Thieves, is no stranger to innovation. The team regularly pushes the cutting edge in both merchandise and content creation to continually get their name in front of consumers. This time,100T managed to combine the two by hand crafting every piece of clothing they’ve ever released inside the new Animal Crossing game. It’s the collab we never knew we needed...until it happened. Link 

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