Level 79: A Quick Catch-Up

The important headlines following a turkey-induced hiatus

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( 📝Editors Note: We’re back after a brief break over for Thanksgiving. In lieu of our standard Deep Dive column, we added a short ‘Quick Bytes’ section to catch up on all the headline. Happy Reading!)

💡 Industry Content

Smash.gg x Microsoft: Microsoft announced that it will buy popular online tournament platform (one of many!), Smasg.gg. The move bodes well for any of the Xbox creator’s future esports aspirations, with the company gaining another tool to run in-house competitions similar to Twitch’s Rivals series.

As past users and 3rd-party developers for Smash.gg ourselves, the move feels somewhat inevitable — the company has struggled with the lack of in-person events in 2020 and has long been in need of some improvements. But with a new Halo on the horizon and a console less than a month old, we’re anticipating that Microsoft will lean more heavily in esports in the coming months. Link

Are Single Player Games Dead? The popular opinion among many of our friends is that Single Player titles are dead, replaced instead by free-to-play games or bundled gaming services, like Genshin Impact or Xbox Game Pass. Why then, does Sony continue to sink so much money in buying game studios and build out first party titles? In this Twitter thread, industry analyst Daniel Ahmad breaks down how single-player games have shifted focus in recent years, why Sony invests so deeply in them, and what we can expect from the genre in the future. Link

🎮 Fun & Games

Fortnite (Almost) Eats the World: Earlier this week Fortnite had another record setting in-game event. In collaboration with Marvel, players teamed up with heroes like Iron Man and Thor to take down one of comic’s most famous villains: Galactus. With nearly 15M participants (and 3M more watching via streaming platforms), these events continue to serve as stellar marketing tactics for new in-game seasons and technical demos for developer Epic Game’s Unreal Engine. Link

The Last One Standing: Founder and analyst Jacob Novak announced Real Peak, a massive interactive live event in partnership with Facebook Gaming, where viewers can collectively vote on actions taken by 12 AI NPCs to help them win the one month survival game. This is truly a first of its kind —we’re stoked on the ability to hop in and out of the game with just a browser link — and is testament to the live viewing technology that Jacob’s company Genvid is working on. Everyone should tune in. Announcement | Play | Gamasutra Feature

The Oasis: In collaboration with the release of Ready Player Two (Ready Player One’s sequel), Roblox is partnering with author Ernest Cline to release their own version of the easter egg manhunt widely popularized in the book. We grabbed our copies earlier this week, but it’s never too late to start. Bonus: it’s never to late to start the hunt! Link

😎 Other Cool Reads

“On Launching The New Xbox And Future of Games” An in-depth interview with Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer. Link

We had a lot to talk about: how much the pandemic has accelerated trends in gaming, why he chose to launch two next-gen consoles at the same time, the issues with preorders and supply he’s seeing, and how he sees Xbox growing over time. And we talked about game streaming, where it is now, where it might go, and how it’s going with Apple and Google to get his streaming service in their app stores.

Designing Design in Slay The Spire: This stream of consciousness article by CloudFall Studios was a super relevant read because it charts a designer’s thought process through a play-by-play of Slay The Spire. Ultimately, the novelty for a game like Slay The Spire rests in the choices a player makes in what they think will benefit them as the game progresses. This is further refined through each play through and as cards accumulate.

“As game designers, we can probably make players have fun by forcing them to choose between short-term gain and long-term gain in this fashion. I have a feeling we’re “supposed” to design cards that only ever solve some of the problems. If any choice is obviously the best regardless of what your past or future is, then I think we’ve failed as designers.”

⚡ Quick Bytes

  • Early Twitch employee Justin “TheGunrun” Ignacio launched a talent agency for V-Tubers, virtual avatar streamers. Link

  • Ryan “Fwiz” Wyatt, YouTube’s Head of Gaming, posted a thread on Mobile Games and their influence on YouTube’s streaming platform. Link

  • Li Jin, Brandon Handoko, and Lila Shroff put together a database for creators, dubbed Side Hustle Stack, focused on helping find opportunity for “platform-based” work. Lots of gaming options to unpack here! Link

  • Forbes released their annual 30 Under 30 List, which includes a list of up and coming stars in the gaming world. Link

  • Valve announced CS:GO BrokenFang, a welcome update in the long history of the game and combat tactic to Valorant’s recent rise in popularity. Link

  • Manny Anekal on unlocking revenue streams in games for “new families”. Link

  • Roblox got a license to operate in China ahead of its IPO. Link

  • “Playco charts a course to the billion-player mobile game”. This is an important read in the context of Rival Peak and the overall browser-native games trend. Link

📊 By The Numbers

Video Games’ Revenue Streams: What makes up the $165B games industry? Visual Capitalist put together a graphic on video game revenue streams from 1970-2020. Not only is it an homage to the various iterations of video games, but also illustrates the sheer size of mobile gaming in comparison to consoles & PC. Link

Top Lists: Among Us, Roblox, Minecraft, Call Of Duty Mobile, Pokemon Go, Legends of Runeterra and Genshin Impact were all notable highlights for Apple’s top mobile downloaded games. Link

😍 Our Current Favorites 

Fawzi (@fawzitani)

I’ve been playing A LOT of Brawl Stars and was excited to tune into parts of the World Championships. There’s so much happening all the time in the mobile esports world, so much so that it’s getting hard to keep track of. I guess one realization that I came away with while watching the finals is how much more affinity I have to organizations vs. players in the mobile esports ecosystem. This is already the case in so many facets of esports: you have your favorite creators and then you have your favorite teams.

Max (@MaxLowenthal)

Back in college, the thing that got me into competitive Super Smash Bros. was the “Melee Doc”, a 3+ hour long documentary about the competitive history of the game, split into nine episodes. The content was so influential to the game that the massive influx of players who entered the competitive scene after it was released are affectionately known as “Doc Kids”. Now, after years of waiting, the sequel to the original documentary is airing on Twitch from December 11th to 13th. This is the equivalent of your favorite show having a sequel after years of speculation and rumors, and I could not be more excited. Link

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