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  • Writer's pictureMatt Kimball

EWD: News for Week of 2/14/22-2/20/22

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Topics: Partnerships, Nintendo, Epic Games, Netflix x BioShock


Nintendo Switch x HelloFresh

To celebrate Mario Day on March 10th, HelloFresh is partnering with Nintendo Switch in Canada to offer Mario Day meal kits and a chance to enter a Super Mario contest. Nintendo advertised it with this headline: "Win back your game nights with delicious, family-friendly meals and wholesome Mario themed crafting activities and games!" For those who don't know, HelloFresh is a meal-kit delivery company that delivers fresh ingredients based on specific meals you've selected on their website.

Starting February 26th, HelloFresh will be offering four meals that'll include tips for kids to "lend a helping hand in the kitchen." This will be available for a 2-week period. If one selects any of these 4 meal options in this time period, you'll receive Mario themed crafting activities (place cards, cup wrappers) in the HelloFresh box to "put the final touches on your great family dinner." Additionally, you can enter for your chance to win 1 of 30 prize packs or 1 of 29 secondary prizes offered by HelloFresh, including one Grand Prize (link to see prizes).

Ian Brooks, CEO of HelloFresh Canada, said:

We are ready to bring back game nights with delicious, family-friendly meals and wholesome Mario themed crafting activities and games. I have two active boys ages 6 and 9 who are already gearing up for some serious Mario fun infused with their favourite kid approved HelloFresh meals.

I think this is a seamless fit for both HelloFresh and Nintendo. Nintendo has historically catered their products to families with their iconic Mario games and intuitive gaming systems. HelloFresh meal-kits provide families with step-by-step instructions and all the necessary ingredients to make meals that taste very good. Together, they hope to bring families together with family-friendly meals by leveraging Mario's nostalgic games on the Nintendo Switch in creating a fun game night.

The Mario-themed crafting activities and tips for kids to lend a hand in the kitchen makes this partnership even more authentic. Lastly, Nintendo incentivizes families to purchase at least one of the 4 meal options during the 2-week period by including a chance to win Nintendo prizes. This is a great way for Nintendo to generate an increased user-base during the weeks leading up-to-and-after Mario Day.

Nerd Street Gamers x FTX

Nerd Street Gamers has partnered with US-regulated cryptocurrency exchange FTX to be a title sponsor for multiple Nerd Street events in the future. The main event FTX US will help with is the upcoming Nerd Street Championships this summer. The Nerd Street Championships presented by FTX US will be a series of esports competitions across multiple game titles split into two seasonal circuits, culminating in a championship event per season. Over $600,000 in prizes will be awarded to competitors for the year. In 2021, esports titles such as Valorant, League of Legends, Apex Legends, Rocket League, and Rainbow Six Siege all had independent events under Nerd Street. FTX will further their commitment to Nerd Street by acting as a presenting sponsor to its scheduled weekly community events as well.

FTX plans to provide Nerd Street’s ability to utilize cryptocurrency through its tournaments. Methods of this include crypto payouts to users at the events and educating attendees about the surrounding blockchain technology and its pros. FTX has been diversifying their esports portfolio over the last year and with this partnership, they've expanded into the realm of esports tournaments.

John Fazio, CEO of Nerd Street Gamers, said:

Every time a new paradigm in technology opens up – the internet, web browsers, mobile phones, or social networks – there is always a lot of noise, and the majority fails to sustain beyond the initial hype. With blockchain, it’s been no different. Our partnership with FTX US is focused on arming our gamers with context and knowledge to cut through the noise of getting rich quick schemes and see the real value of this new technology.”

Fazio and Nerd Street had a breakout year in 2021 that saw it host over 500 tournaments. These were broadcast to 4.8 million viewers with 10,000 monthly users on its platform. According to Dot Esports, this led to Nerd Street’s ability to double its base of owned and operated esports venues. Nerd Street is now looking to expand on its breakthrough first quarter in 2022, starting with FTX. Fazio is aware that cryptocurrency partnerships have not had a very positive outlook from esports fans recently. However, he's confident that blockchain technology will positively impact gamers when applied correctly.

For the 3rd week in a row, a crypto wallet has partnered with an esports entity. This time, with an esports tournament organizer. The same goals and objectives applies to this partnership as does almost every crypto wallet partner: educate fans on blockchain technology and garner trust within the esports community. However, this partnership allows users involved in prospective tournaments to get payouts in the form of cryptocurrency. I haven't seen this used before, and I think it's a pretty cool idea. We'll see how the public views this partnership, but I think it will to the point where esports and gaming fans will become tone deaf to these blockchain partnerships.

ONE Esports x HSBC

Esports media platform ONE Esports has partnered with international banking and financial services company HSBC to help esports players and fans with financial guidance. The partnership will introduce a pilot project in Malaysia and Indonesia centered on 10 different local tournaments and at least one major event in 2022. They plan to produce content focused on financial guidance inside MOBA games. They'll do this by addressing the difficulties esports players face when optimizing valuable assets, despite managing in-game resources being a key part of esports.

ONE Esports will also provide HSBC with research and reporting on the Southeast Asian esports community’s consumer behavior towards financial services preferences. ONE Esports is the largest esports media company in Southeast Asia.

This is definitely an interesting partnership that will be insightful for HSBC in their understanding of the SE Asia esports market, while also be educational for esports and gaming fans as they understand financial literacy in and out of the game. HSBC definitely has an understanding of the young consumer demographic gamers and esports fans fall under, so they decided to leverage their potential lack of financial guidance by doing a content series with a popular media company. I don't believe HSBC has partnered with anybody in the esports and gaming space, so I'm excited see this content series come to life.

For ONE Esports, they're partnering with one of the largest financial institutions in the world. This is a no-brainer partnership from their perspective.

BLAST x Epic Games

BLAST, an esports entertainment and event organizer, has agreed to a one-year partnership with Fortnite to produce all Fortnite Championship Series (FNCS) events in 2022. BLAST's biggest project since BLAST Premier in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, they'll operate the entire FNCS Chapter 3 broadcast broadcast schedule during each Fortnite season.

FNCS Chapter 3 Season 1 began last weekend (Feb 17th-20th) with qualifiers. The top players around the world were vying for a share of $3,008,500 in prize pool money. Leo Matlock, MD for Development at BLAST, said:

We are delighted to be able to establish this year-long partnership with Fortnite. BLAST has been able to build trust and a fantastic working relationship with the Fortnite Competitive team to create incredible experiences for the community. We loved every minute of FNCS All-Star Showdown and FNCS Grand Royale and have amazing plans for FNCS Chapter 3, which kicks off with Season 1 on February 17th where we have a record amount of content for fans to enjoy alongside our world-class production as the best in the world battle it out for over $3M in prize pool.

According to their press release, there's no details of whether or not these events will be in-person on LAN. I really hope, depending on the status of the pandemic, there will be large-scale events like the Fortnite World Cup to end Fortnite Chapter 3. As I mentioned in last week's article, the 3rd iteration of the Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl got a lot of viewership and Epic Games has finally given a tournament organizers the reign to run Fortnite esports events.

Other News

ESL Announced more details of Women's CS:GO Circuit

ESL Gaming, an esports tournament organizer, has announced more details regarding their all-women CS:GO Circuit. Now named ESL Impact, it'll include two league seasons with live finals, standalone event, online cash cups, and a $500,000 Prize pool. This will start on March 17th and be broadcasted every Thursday and Friday for a 6-week period. ESL Impact is a part of ESL's #GGFORALL initiative focused on making gaming more inclusive, respectful, and empowering.

8 teams per region (Europe, North America and South America) will be split into two groups of four and play out a round-robin best-of-three format. In total, the league will feature 24 teams. Two teams from each region will be invited while the remaining 6 teams in each region will be determined through open qualifiers. The top 2 teams of each region, as well as 2 wildcard teams, will compete in the global finals at DreamHack Dallas in June 2022.

This will also be the 1st tournament announced since ESL Gaming and FACEIT merged and were acquired by Savvy Gaming Group. According to an interview with Esports Insider and ESL FACEIT Group co-CEO Craig Levine, they'll continue to develop the women esports circuit and initiative program despite this acquisition.

Although some for whatever reason don't like or understand why there's a women-only female esports circuit, I believe this should really make waves in making esports a much more inclusive space. Hopefully those against having a women-only esports event will change their opinion and be more respectful going forward. I'm excited to watch the qualifiers and main event in Dallas in June this year!

CSM Appointed as the Agency of Record (AOR) for Evil Geniuses

CSM Sports & Entertainment is now the sponsorship sales agency of record (AOR) for Global gaming and esports brand Evil Geniuses. CSM will assist the company in identifying, developing, and securing commercial partnerships with big-name brands with the goal of expanding Evil Geniuses brand recognition at a global-scale.

Evil Geniuses has teams competing in a number of the most popular esports titles, including League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, DOTA 2 and VALORANT.

Matt Grandis, Chief Commercial Officer at CSM said:

Evil Geniuses is a true pioneer in the world of esports and gaming, with a long history of being at the forefront of the industry. With our existing network and expertise in the commercial partnerships sector, we see this as a great opportunity to introduce Evil Geniuses to new brands and audiences across the world who share their values.

Evil Geniuses has had prior and existing partners with globally recognized brands such as Monster Energy, Bud Light, TUMI, Coinbase, and Absolut. They're even partnered with, and have received a minority investment from, English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.

This is an overall great decision from Evil Geniuses to bring in CSM Sports & Entertainment as their sponsorship sales agency. We're seeing more and more now that esports organizations are working with global agencies that have experience and expertise in working with worldwide brands to further expand their sponsorship portfolio. Sponsorship, especially during the pandemic, is the biggest revenue driver for many esports companies and I think it's very much needed for them to expand their operations beyond just in-house sponsorship sales work. Agencies such as CSM have developed long-standing relationships and have created cutting-edge campaign activations with Citibank, AIA, PGA European Tour, and WTA to name some. I cannot wait to see all of the partnerships and activations that come out of this.

Netflix to Create New BioShock Film

Netflix is partnering with 2K and Take-Two Interactive to produce a live-action film adaptation of the renowned video game franchise BioShock. No writer or filmmaker is on board as of yet and this partnership deal has been in the works for almost a year.

They have previously tried to make a BioShok film with Universal and Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski, but lack of budget, having it as an R rated movie, and dysfunction led to 2k and Take-Two Interactive in pulling the plug. The original BioShock game released in 2007 sold millions and was followed by two sequels — BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite — which expanded the dystopian landscape as they combined action, sci-fi and horror.

Although a couple recent video game iterations that turned into movies haven't really turned out (i.e. Uncharted with 39% tomatometer and Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City with 31% tomatometer), Netflix series The Witcher is one of the top-rated titles on the streaming platform (81% tomatometer). Netflix certainly has the budget to get the right actors and such to make the video-games plot reach its fullest potential. Hopefully there's no bumps in the road in getting this film executed.

NASCAR Launches eNASCAR College iRacing Series

NASCAR and iRacing have partnered with collegiate esports league NACE Starleague to launch the eNASCAR College iRacing Series. This will bring the excitement of top-tier sim racing towards college students across North America this spring. The series will be open to over 500 colleges and universities across North America, with aspiring drivers competing for a chance to earn a share of $50,000 in total scholarships.

To be eligible to compete, students must register and post a time in each race's "Time Attack session on the iRacing UI." The top 32 drivers in three separate time attacks will qualify to represent their universities in races at the virtual Daytona International Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Watkins Glen International over a three-month span. Additional events will be announced as the fall semester inches closer.

The collegiate sim racing series will be presented by Coca-Cola, Southern Computer Warehouse, Playseat, and Logitech G. Nick Rend, Managing Director of Gaming and Esports at NASCAR, said:

Gaming and esports are an important component of NASCAR, allowing us to reach new fans who are often engaging with the sport for the first time. Our various eNASCAR initiatives have seen exponential growth. We felt this was the right time to extend our reach to a younger audience and launch the eNASCAR College iRacing Series to show students the opportunities that sim racing and our sport hold for them.

NASCAR has seen exponential growth during the pandemic working working with sim racing platform iRacing. Joining with the NACE Starlegaue gives a whole new offering on the esports side for NASCAR by giving students a chance to compete for scholarship and be put onto a bigger stage. Collegiate esports is continuing to become a mainstay at college institutions and multiple esports titles are either partnering with leagues or starting their own collegiate esports initiatives. Can't wait to see these future events come to life.

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